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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.

Saturday, December 30, 2006
  art & antiques ad
Check out the lower right corner of the magazine. There's my painting, in an ad for Wilde Meyer Gallery...and there's also a bit of text about the gallery on the left page. This is the January issue, just came out. Art & Antiques is a slick, national publication aimed at collectors, and although they tend to focus on older art work and antiques, they feature contemporary art also. This issue has a whole advertising section devoted to Scottsdale, where Wilde Meyer is located. Scottsdale really is a great art market--even back when I was a grad student in the mid 80s at ASU (in nearby Tempe) it was a happening place. I don't think I ever imagined then that I'd be represented there, but life has its interesting twists and turns.

In the Exposure Game most of us artists seem to engage in, this seems like its worth a few points, maybe. In any case, I'm pleased about it--it's a first for me. Wilde Meyer is also running an ad with a different painting of mine in a local Tucson publication in February (they have a gallery location there as well as Scottsdale.)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
  new column paintings
In the midst of holiday distractions, I managed to pick up these recently mounted-together paintings from the woodshop. These are #11 and 12 in my Column Series, and are 87" and 84" by 12." After bringing them to the studio yesterday, I spent all day today tweaking them into their final (?) version, shown here. Sorry the photo isn't the best--it's taken inside on my studio wall, not outside, where I get better results. That's because Christmas decorations are currently taking over the wall I use for outside photography. Ah, such is the season.

You can click on the photo for a larger view, but be sure and use your "back" button when you're done looking, because otherwise you'll exit this page.

I took a break from working on my Column series for six months or so, until I started these two (and there are more in the works.) I can see changes here since the last ones I did, which were exhibited in Feb. 2006--mainly in the use of more whites and neutral darks, offset by a few panels of brighter color. It's hard to see in the photo I think, but several panels have a very stone-like texture, others are almost pure color. I'm feeling excited about taking up this series again. They are interesting for me because, while the column is a predetermined format, I tend to use more panels per painting than I do in multiple panel paintings, and figuring out their order, color and the how to vary the vertical dimension of the individual panels (all are 12" wide) is a complex challenge.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
  blogging notes
The year in review: in 2005 (my first full year of blogging) I received over 1,200 visitors on this site from all over the world, from places as far away as China, Israel, New Zealand and Holland. Perhaps that's not terribly impressive, especially when compared to more established blogs. But when I started this blog I really had no idea that my readership would go much beyond friends and aquaintances. So I'm amazed and delighted when I check my site stats.

By the way, I love getting comments--those stats turn into actual people with ideas and reactions. You can always comment anonymously and include whatever identifying info you're comfortable with in the body of your text. It's easy--just click on the "comments" link below each entry. (I had a problem awhile back with some spam comments--that's why I added the word verification step.)

Texas art blogger Cheryl McClure tipped me off to the fact that if you go to blogarithm.com and enter the URLs of your favorite blogs, you become a subscriber and receive email alerts when something new is posted. I'd love to have more regular readers, so please consider subscribing to this site--and thanks to everyone, everywhere who is reading this!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
  the only thing constant

is change, so the saying goes. Here is another studio picture, taken a few days ago. My panels continue to migrate around day by day, as each one develops and attracts others into its orbit. No, they don't actually do this by themselves, but it does sometimes seem that they have intentions of their own.

People often ask me about the process of making my multiple panel paintings. Do I paint all the panels separately first, then arrange them? Do I have certain formats in mind before I start?

The way it works is not easy to describe. Things are always in flux, changing even as I think I've settled on a course. It's like a big puzzle--the panels are all the pieces, but they fit together in many combinations so there isn't one 'right" answer at all. Add to the puzzle analogy the idea that the pieces themselves undergo major shifts in color or texture as they are developed.

But there are a few things I can share about how I work. One is that I try to keep a variety of panels on hand--not always easy on the budget (but then again I'm not especially frugal when it comes to buying art supplies.) They are a sort of palette of sizes and shapes, analagous to my many tubes of paint. That way I can usually grab what I think might work, get a basic color down in a few minutes and stay with the flow of ideas I'm having about a particular painting.

Of course, instead of a brand new panel, I often choose one that I've already worked on, that already has developed a particular voice in terms of color and texture. I tend to treat whichever painting I'm working on as top dog, entitled to everyone else's bones. In other words, I am quick to steal a panel from some other painting in progress, no matter how well I thought it was working where it was. This approach tends to break up my arrangements on a regular basis, since I usually focus each day on one or two paintings that are different ones from the day before.

Finally, I do sometimes work with a preconceived idea of the format of the painting. This is most true for my Column series, three of which can be seen in the photo above. I love their tall, thin shape, which has the attraction of being unexpected, unusual. Especially given that to some extent, my images refer to the landscape, which is traditionally depicted horizontally. The column format seems to me a very abstract one, relating to geometry and architecture more than the flow of paint, and I enjoy the tension of having both of these forces at work in the same painting.

However even when I set out to do Columns, there will be more than one in progress, because shifting panels back and forth is always part of the process...change is constant until some delicate sense of "right" is acheived and the painting goes off to the woodworking shop to be mounted together. In the end I like to believe that each panel finds its best home, and my job is to stay as open to the many possibilities as I can.
Monday, December 11, 2006
By the way, I titled the painting posted below (on 12/4) Flicker. This alludes to both the glowing, emberlike colors of the orange panel and the dance of the insect forms across the surface. When I brought Flicker in to Circa Gallery last week, Wanda, the director, said, "haven't we had that title before?" "No,"I said, but I've brought in Flutter, Flitter, Skitter, and Skatter, so I can see why you'd be confused.

Titles can be a bit of a challenge. Here is a link to an interesting analysis of titles by painter Robert Genn, who posts a bi-weekly essay on his site, The Painters Keys. According to Genn, titles can be classified in five ways--as Sentimental, Numerical, Factual, Abstract or Mysterious. Personally I try to avoid Sentimental and also anything that seems too self-consciously Mysterious (or Cosmic) for my work.

My favorites are simple words that are open to interpretation, such as Core and Veil. I also like place names, like Taos and Arenal (a volcano and nearby village in Costa Rica)...I lean towards these when a painting, through its colors and textures, has strong associations for me with a particular location. Lately I've been using a new catagory of words, signs of the zodiac (Pisces, Scorpio.) It's not that I'm so into astrology, but I like the way the signs are grouped into earth, air, fire and water symbols. Often my paintings evoke one of these elements, and perhaps convey a sense of the associated character.

Last but not least, I will reveal one of my great sources for titles--vehicle model names. I check them out when I'm waiting for a light to change or walking through a parking lot. This isn't as weird as it may seem...car companies spend a lot of time and effort coming up with words that are poetic and interesting, without being too specific, which is often just what I'm after. So in years past I've had Geo, Horizon, Contour and more recently, Echo (#1 and #2.) And I've got a few more jotted down for future reference. There are plenty that will never make the cut--Windstar??--way too Sentimental! Grand Am ?? I don't think so. But it's a decent source, at least as good as randomly sticking my finger in the dictionary. Which isn't always so bad either.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
  a simple committment
For the past few months I've been one of a group of artists responding to questions and ideas emailed out by author and therapist Eric Maisel, who concerns himself with issues of creativity. In his most recent post he introduced several elements that he feels are basic to creative practice. The first of these is simplicity--not in the sense that the creative process is simple--far from it! Nor is the end result of most creative work simple. What he's referring to is a clear, straightforward committment to oneself and one's work. Although I don't always agree with Eric's points of view, I'm with him on this one. It strikes me that a simple statement of committment to one's work cuts through mountains of procrastination, excuses and rationalizations. It really is simple, you either do this or you don't. Some people must overcome large obstacles to meet that committment, but the clear intention is the same driving force for everyone.

I also thought about the various forms this intention can take. For some people it means committing to working in the studio every day--this in fact is the conventional advice--that you should always work even when not feeling so inclined. In my own experience, though, I don't find this is right for me. There are definitely times in the studio that I can see I'm doing more harm than good. I'm not in tune with my work--I'm tired or distracted or just burned out. I believe that part of the creative process is time to rejuvenate, and also time to incubate ideas. When I recognize that I'm "off" in the creative sense I do take a little time off. Maybe a day, maybe more. When I return, I'm always much more productive and focused.

So the "simple" committment might not be as simple as "I will paint every day." For me it's more like this: "I will do the best work I can." Without getting too specific, that means committments of time, energy and thought, and no excuses.
Monday, December 04, 2006
  new painting
Here's the latest of my multiple panel paintings...untitled at this point, 66"x24," comprised of five panels. There are definite insect references in this one--some wings and a dragonfly shape in the white panel, and an abstracted sort of bee in the upper orange one. Those of you who have known me for 25+ years (yes, there are a few!) may recall the emphasis on insects in my BFA show of 1982, which included actual little beetle mummies bound with string. Although perhaps that is best forgotten.

Anyway, if there are indeed lifelong themes in an artist's work, I guess insects qualify in my case. What interests me now is the way they activate the garden, with their flicking and flittering about, and their amazing colors and forms.

The warm colors of this painting evoke for me the summer heat of earth and flowers, so distant now on a snowy December day.


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       Rebecca Crowell