Over the past few weeks, I've had as many as forty "floating " panels in my studio--ones that haven't found their place in a finished composition. In various stages of paint application, they are tacked up on walls and stacked here and there on the floor, and I move them frequently as I look for configurations that work for me. On Saturday, I had two studio visitors--my artist friend, photographer and media artist Patricia Marroquin Norby
, and her friend Carol Gunderson, a Native American beadworker-- and things came together in a fascinating way.
Because my multiple panel paintings aren't bolted together til the end, thinking up new arrangements for the various component pieces is a sort of puzzle that can be worked on endlessly in my studio. I sometimes spend almost as much time moving panels around as I do actually painting, and finding final results that work for me has gotten to be a fairly refined process. There is nothing random about it, and lots of trial and error.
Some people, when they are in my studio, have the idea of joining in this process. It can be an irresistable urge once a person realizes how modular the panels are, how neatly they fit together and how one small change can affect a whole arrangemnt. But for reasons I hope are now obvious, I don't usually encourage their input very much. It's not that I don't appreciate feedback and ideas--I do--but more significant changes happen when an entire panel is moved than through a comment like "how about more contrast?" or "that blue seems a little strong." It's usually better for me if people take my arrangements as a given, and just react the painting as a whole.
But it was odd...somehow when Patricia and Carol went into "how about putting this panel over here" mode, I didn't have my typical, slightly defensive reaction. No gritting of teeth, no sense of being caught between a desire to be open minded and an urge to defend my turf. Maybe it was something in their choice of words or tone of voice, or that I felt they really "saw" and understood my work to an unusual degree. It was, instead, an exciting moment. We moved panels, tossed ideas around and quickly and decisively this painting came together from five already completed panels.
It is 24"x66," comprised of 5 panels. No title as yet. Suggestions?