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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I've been working towards an exhibit which will run from April 20-May 19 at Polderland Gallery (formerly MB Gallery) in downtown Milwaukee's Arts Building. The gallery is a wonderful space that is both intimate and light-filled, and doubles as the painting studio of painter Marina Broere. Opening night, 4/20, coincides with Milwaukee's Spring Art Crawl, when many local galleries hold receptions and events.

In order to create enough work for this show, as well as to supply various other galleries, I've been putting in a lot of painting hours. Things are going well...right now it seems that the more I paint, the more fired up I get, and the more ideas flow into my brain at 5:00 a.m. (or whenever I happen to be lying awake.) It's a time of high energy and productivity...in spite of it being February, a dreary month in Wisconsin. (The studio is a great distraction from gray skies and subzero temperatures.)

With a new gallery on the horizon and good sales of work overall, I think the need to be more productive is probably not just a temporary situation. No complaints--this is a problem I'm happy to solve! I guess that answers will come--they usually do in a "sink or swim" situation.

A couple of thoughts I've had (and it would be great to get a discussion going with others who have been in this situation...let's say a bit overwhelmed with commitments.) One thing is to have a lot of paintings in progress at the same time--going from one to another as things reach a stopping point. My studio motto these days is "keep moving."

On the other hand I hate the thought of just cranking things out--I don't want to lose the thoughtful quality that I value in my work. My solution so far is to keep the "finished" ones in full view (I've had to clear some more wall space) so that I continue to look at them every day. Over a week or so of seeing them in at least my peripheral vision, I notice things that need to be reworked.

The last thought is about mental focus, about keeping higher energy and momentum. What I have now seems to be inspired by necessity, aided by a shot of adrenaline when I think about my commitments. But I'm working on a few changes in my personal life that I hope will help sustain it over time. Nothing too huge, because that never works, does it? Just being more aware how I tend to procrastinate and give in to things I don't really want to do, and being more conscious of scheduling my time.
Congratulations on everything; sometimes it's like the heavens open up! ;-)

About your "keep them in full view" solution: it definitely works. I've also developed a kind of rotation pattern for pieces in progress... nothing formal, just habits formed over the years.

When a painting reaches one of those stages of feeling complete, I spin it over to what I think of as my "waiting wall," where I'll see it first thing when I walk in, last thing when I leave, and at unexpected times when I turn away from the wall where I actually work. Most times it begins to clamor for more attention within days. That cooling-off period always helps me to get past the "pretending-it's-good-enough-as-it-is" phase pretty well.

Meanwhile, the unfinished and in-progress pieces either hang or lean just out of my peripheral vision, but close enough to pick up some splashover (literally or not) from the piece I'm actually working on.

Long story short, I swear by the rule that one always benefits from "living with it awhile." I think it's a form of test-driving the piece before it (hopefully) ends up permanently on someone's wall. If it continues to resonate over time in my own space, chances are it will in someone else's too.

Keep riding the crest of this amazing wave you're on... enjoy every minute. You've worked hard to get to it!
Everyone has to find their best manner of working. I work on anywhere from 5-10 pieces at a time, partly for technical reasons-I work in glazes so can only do a little bit of painting on each of them each day. But in that process I have found that by working on so many at once, it keeps me from focusing too much on just one, which for me usually leads to overworking.
Having read your entry and the comments I smile in recognition, more of us seem to go by the rule: live with it for a while. I too work on multiple paintings at the same time although I have to admit that there are always moments when the focus shifts towards one in particular on which I'll work for the longest time of a day. When that one reaches the 'maybe done' state it moves to the spot behind the easel or on another one at my side. The trick indeed seems to be that you see it subconsciously while working or having tea (I'm a huge teadrinker)After a while it will mark itself as ready or'needs more' or if you already knew it needed more but were'nt sure exactly what it needed (I have that a lot of times) it will (miraculously) come to you. This profession keeps amazing me, even after 30 years.
As for 'our' show, I'm looking forward to it very much!
Thanks everybody! What great responses. I just came back up to the house from the studio after writing that post with a couple of more "tips for myself" and for anybody else who would find them useful--
**keep things fresh (I move my paintings around a lot, putting different ones in the prime spots on my working wall.

**lots of good music, most of it high-energy...for me that is everything from world music (African and South American especially), classical, and techno to (on the more mellow side) Iz ehich I played nonstop over the weekend.

**keep enough supplies on hand so that the lack of a certain color or size of panel does not stand in the way

**keep little sketchbooks around the house to jot down ideas when not in the studio...my only problem with this I have too many to keep track of.

**and coffee is a marvelous beverage (yes marina, so is tea!)
Hallo Rebecca

I have just found your blog(s) and website via Tracy Helgeson. I am fairly new to the artistic life (although fairly worn in years) and have only recently begun exploring abstract painting, so I am always delighted when I find new artists who write about their work and process.

I was comforted to read that I do what others do ... have my latest work around so that I can look at it frequently and catch glimpses from different angles. It certainly helps to iron out the wrinkles!

Your 'tips' were food for thought. Music is something that I need to get worked out ... I really must get a source fixed up in my work space!

I like the way you write .. you seem to be very 'accessible' and down to earth, and you write about things that I can understand and relate to.

Altogether a very happy visit, so thank you.
Thanks for visiting my blog Lesly--I'm glad you like it so far. I'll check out yours too!
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       Rebecca Crowell