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.
not a mess
When I have a studio visitor, there's almost always a moment when that person lets out an astonished sort of laugh...the sign that my work table with its jumble of uncapped paints and grimy, encrusted tools has been spotted. Even people who have been in my studio lots of times tend to linger over this mess in amazement. "How in the world do you get from this
(the table) to that
(a painting on the wall)??!!" I remember one friend asking.
My brother took this photo of one small spot of the table when he and his family visited last week (the table is actually about 8ft. by 3 ft.) He said he was going to use it for his laptop wallpaper. I'm not sure why...is there something inspiring about this? (The friend who came with them impressed her 5-year old with "Rebecca gets to make a BIG MESS every day!")
The thing is, to me it isn't really a mess. I know my way around this...arrangement...of stuff pretty well. I do have a little system going here--it's pretty loose, I admit--but there is some organization to the whole thing. Even if I'm not exactly compulsive about maintaining it.
Frankly, I just have no patience with trying to be neat while I'm in the middle of painting, and afterwards I guess I don't see the point either. I actually do love and respect my materials, although I realize it might be hard to make that case!
Anyway, since everybody seems to get such a kick out of my quirky mess, I thought I'd go public with it, at the risk of embarrassing myself.
(PS: lest you imagine that my house, clothes and personal self are in a similar state of grunginess, please know that in most areas of my life I'm reasonably neat and clean. )
responding to abstraction
Recently I came across these remarks by Patricia Ryan
on Robert Genn's site
, Painter's Keys: (her comment is in regards to Genn's use of the term "unusually satisfying pattern" to describe what people may be responding to, when they feel an immediate attraction to a painting:)I think "unusually satisfying pattern" nails it, dead on. I have spent many hours trying to figure out why some very abstract paintings corral my interest for years, while others have absolutely no effect on me. When one grabs me, it evokes feelings that I can only rarely express verbally, but nonetheless are solid and memorable. It's like a feeling of connectedness to something I need. Maybe the pattern of lights and darks, or the combination or patterns of colors causes a response in the brain that simply mimics patterns of stimulation associated with really fundamental human responses. Or maybe the patterns are stimulating a function of the brain that current science doesn't understand or even recognize--some kind of non-verbal awareness. Not everyone "gets" truly abstract art, and those who do don't like the same works. So the patterns may be individual
I thought this was quite an interesting take on that mysterious chemistry that happens between painting and viewer. It also occurs to me that her ideas need not apply only to abstract painting, but to any time when the viewer reacts to pure elements of art such as color and contrast--the abstraction that is present within every style of painting.
This painting, Fusion
(70"x24") took on a curiously Asian appearance at some point...due to my reluctance to appropriate anything I'm not culturally entitled to, I hesitated about this, but in the end I decided to let it flow. They're not easy to see in the photo, but I made some line drawings of tree limbs on the white panel, and these seemed to push the whole thing in an Eastern direction, though the colors had it heading that way already I suppose. (Click on the photo for a larger view.)
It's the old sponge analogy, that as artists we soak up many influences, and they mingle and are squeezed out in often surprising, unexpected and certainly unconscious ways. How often have we all realized well into a painting, "hey, this reminds me of...(some other artist, or style, or "ism")? And then wondered whether to follow that path or make an abrupt turn in another direction.
In this case, I followed the path that the painting seemed to be heading, and am pleased with the result. I'm packaging this up tomorrow and sending it to my New Mexico gallery, Darnell Fine Art
. I'm hoping to keep Darnell, my most active gallery, supplied with at least a trickle of new work in the lead up to my solo show in July, though of course I'm holding most of it back. I'm feeling good about the first few that I've finished for the show, such as Coast
, posted a few days ago...all is going well, and with daylight savings time, I seem to have extra energy to work longer now in the evenings.
weekend in milwaukee
I packed a lot into two days...Saturday afternoon was my friend Mark Horton's opening
at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee. It was a beautiful show--as always, no matter how many times I have seen Mark's paintings in progress in the studio they astonish me when I see them finished in the gallery setting, under lights and varnished--their rich colors glow and the paint is practically edible in its lushness. And actually these days I don't often get to see them in the studio, since Mark moved from Eau Claire (nearby) to St. Louis (a nine-hour drive) last summer. I did get to see this body of work just before he delivered it to the gallery, though--when I was in St. Louis last week--and I knew then it would be a great exhibit.
I stayed in Milwaukee with my painter friend Marina Broere
and her husband, Cor, and after the opening she and I went over to her studio/gallery in the Fifth Ward. (see photo above, taken as we relaxed and talked over tea, with several of her works in the background.) It was wonderful to see her paintings in person--we often email in-progress shots back and forth, but I don't always catch on my computer screen the subtleties of color and texture that characterize her work.
I was not just admiring and commenting on her current work, but also on a mission to pick out an older painting for trade. (Marina took one of my older paintings when she visited me in December.) This small abstract caught my eye from across the room with its rich warm tones and strong contrast, and I was very pleased when she offered it to me.
After our time at Marina's studio, we met up with Mark, his family and friends at a very nice restaurant, and later finished off the day with art talk back at Marina's house. Sunday morning we had a chilly but beautiful walk through the botanical gardens nearby, and then it was time for me to head home, a four hour drive.
It was a welcome break to get away for a few days (especially to go "south" towards spring!) And in the spirit of that season (still very slow in making its appearance around my house) Marina and Cor surprised me with a huge bag of 100 daffodil bulbs (they have a wholesale bulb business, with imported bulbs from Holland, their homeland.) I plan to put most of them around my water garden, and to force a few blooms indoors to satisfy more immediate cravings for spring.
This is Coast
, 54"x36" and just recently finished. My friend Tiit Raid
came over for a studio visit yesterday and he was drawn to this one right away. His appreciation of it seemed just the validation I needed to say to myself, OK, done! (I thought it was, actually, but had not gone so far as to photograph or catalog it.) It is a painting with both high contrast and much subtlety. (The left side of the lower dark panel has a glowing application of gold/raw umber, pushed back under a final layer of the same dark as the rest of the panel--an example of subtlety that may not be obvious in the photo.)
It is always a pleasure to have Tiit over for art talk. I've known him for more than 25 years--he was one of my undergraduate painting teachers back in the early 80s. One of the nice things about living in the same place where you went to college is these kinds of long standing relationships (I have several) in which teachers evolve into friends and colleagues.
signs of spring
Two signs of spring (and believe me, here in Wisconsin we are a long ways from robins and daffodils)...(1)I just noticed the tiniest pussy willow buds, a quarter inch long, while on my evening walk...and (2) my studio flooded yesterday, because of melting snow. That's actually a routine event which will happen more than once between now and summer. But this was the first time this season, and it caught me by surprise--lots of panels and finished paintings were on the floor. Thankfully I discovered the situation before any damage was done from the encroaching waters, and since I have a drain it is not hard to push the puddles in that direction with a broom.
For some reason, although I may gripe a bit, I never really mind dealing with the floods. Like the occasional bird or woodchuck finding its way inside in summer, the annoying wasp invasions every fall, and the winter chore of loading and maintaining the wood stove (by which I must huddle uncomfortably for the first half hour or so of my work day) the spring floods come with the territory of having a rural studio building out in the middle of nowhere...and really, I do appreciate that a lot.
on the road, st. louis
I'm happy to be home from my trip to St. Louis, with 1000 miles on the car since Tuesday evening. That's a lot for me solo, but everything went fine. My main purpose was to deliver new paintings to Steven Boody Fine Arts
and that mission was accomplished yesterday afternoon just before heading home. This photo shows the original painting in my ongoing series of vertical panel paintings, which Steven has hanging in his show room. Painted in 2004, Twenty Five Views of Landscape
is a strict grid of 12"x12" panels each with texture suggestive of grass, foliage or rock. It was good to re-visit this old friend of a painting, and to consider how my vertical paintings
have evolved in the years since this one was made.
Shortly after painting Twenty Five Views
I continued with the basic format, but with changes--I began to treat each column of panels as an individual painting, and to vary the height of the component panels to provide more visual interest and rhythm. Each painting then became a study in color and texture evoking various moods and places. At first I used a wide range of color within each painting, but within the past year or so, I've shifted to more subtle ranges of values and colors. This is my only ongoing series, and it continues to intrigue me, thirty or so paintings along.
Besides my gallery visit, which was very good, I spent quality time with my friend Mark and his family, and e-penpal Patty (see entry below.) St. Louis had just had about a foot of snow, but it was melting much faster than it does up here in Wisconsin, and I experienced a welcome glimpse of spring after all.
Here is my latest painting, Solstice
(54"x36" oil on board.) The intense blue panel has been floating around my studio, in and out of various compositions, for weeks, without finding a place to land. I considered developing it as a single panel painting, but then found this arrangement that works for me. The lower panel has subtle copper colored lines that relate to orange lines that I scratched through on the blue panel (the original color layer, under the blue, is orange.) The white upper panel also has some linear elements that are hard to see in the photo, that resemble tree limbs.
Next week I'm hauling this painting (and three others) to Steven Boody at Boody Fine Arts
in St. Louis. I've been with this gallery since the mid-90s and Steven and his assistant Leigh have done an excellent job in placing my larger paintings in various offices and business settings such as banks and law firms.
I'm looking forward to the trip, not just because it seems like heading for the tropics (from still-frozen Wisconsin) but because I will visit my painter friend Mark Horton
, and meet my e-pen pal Patty Oblack
for the first time.