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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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  may party

Our annual May Party (held for the past 26 years on whichever Saturday in May works out best) has always attracted an interesting crowd...old friends from 30 years ago, people who came mainly to play my husband's 18-hole disc golf course, and other friends of all descriptions. This year the art crowd made an excellent showing, and I enjoyed having them into my studio after dinner, along with everyone else who wanted a look. Art friends who came included Paula Gorski, Chris Yocca, Marina Broere, Gregg Rochester, Jan Mehn, Jane Herrick, Kris McCallum, Steve Katrosits, Susan O'Brien, and last but certainly not least, several graduating high school people heading for art school in the fall, including my son Ross. It was a wonderful party.
Thursday, May 24, 2007

In his new book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now, a long time favorite of mine) writes about transcending habitual thought processes, which arise from the ego, in order to develop more awareness of a larger and more expansive reality. In an early chapter he describes how labeling and categorizing everything around us tends to deaden and limit our perceptions.

The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within you and around you. In this way, cleverness is gained but wisdom is lost, and so are joy, love, creativity and aliveness. They are concealed in the still gap between the perception and the interpretation. Of course we have to use words and thoughts. They have their own beauty--but do we need to become imprisoned in them?

There is much more--it is one of those rare books that as soon as I reached the end I went right back to begin again. This time through the above paragraph struck me in its application to viewing art, as well as to the inner processes that one experiences during creative flow. For me, his description of "the still gap between perception and interpretation" sums up so well the presence in a work of art that goes beyond words.

Abstraction is an approach that to a large extent sidesteps issues of labeling and easy interpretation. I think this is can be said of any work of art, from the abstract to the most realistic, due to the ways the artist manipulates various art elements and aspects of content. But abstraction, especially pure abstraction, is unique in requiring the viewer to venture away from identifying and categorizing, and to explore a different way of perceiving. Perhaps this is why abstraction since its beginnings has been identified with transcendent ideas and to some extent, spirituality. Early abstract painters such as Kandinsky and Mondrian made clear connections between their art and their spiritual ideas.

The photo above was shot yesterday just before Marina Broere and I took down my exhibit at Polderland Gallery. I loved exhibiting in this quiet, contemplative space and hope that my work existed in some way in that "still gap."
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I had a dream that I was at the computer surfing for a particular website that was so profound, if I found it I would come away with life-changing truths and understanding...my computer was like a tech-age oracle, and I just needed to find the right URL to unlock the deepest wisdom of the universe.

How unfortunate that I woke up before that happened.

Dream analysis: I spend too much time at the computer. (really?) And I thought all I was looking for was a little connection to the bigger world, the art world especially...some good conversation and food for thought. When I find that, I'm happy enough.

In that vein, here are two recent discoveries:

In Studio (Kesha Bruce) and Use My Sky (Leya Evelyn)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
  new painting

I just finished this painting to send to Woodwalk Gallery in Door County (Wisconsin's tourist destination on Lake Michigan.) It is 34"x30", titled (at this point) Woodchuck.

Which leads me to this story: yesterday was the second day I'd spent trying to resolve this painting, which was already bolted together and more or less done, but still needed...something. I went up to the house for lunch, leaving my studio door open to allow some fresh air in. Well, I let something else in besides the breeze--when I returned and was sitting back for another good stare at this painting a woodchuck wandered nonchalantly into view, sniffing along the wall of paintings, up a few times onto its hind legs (looking like quite the art critic) and eventually meandering right past where I was sitting and into a pile of cardboard I keep at the back of the studio.

In other words, I got a good long look. And when I stared again at the painting, I suddenly saw, very clearly, the front end of a woodchuck--already there in the texture of the dark panel on the left. So I sketched in the back end, worked things over a bit more, and there it is.

I don't usually put anything that specific in my paintings, but the woodchuck is subtle, even in the actual painting which has a lot more going on than this photo. It reminds me a bit of the dog paintings I did last summer.

Oh and once I started painting I guess I made enough noise to convince the woodchuck that it was time to go.
Monday, May 14, 2007
  gardening and painting

Surprises, discoveries, sensory pleasures and room for experimentation...gardening and painting have these things in common. (Oh and hard work, too--sometimes enough to cause an aching back which was my fate over the weekend.) I love the way both tend to wipe away brain chatter and sense of time, and allow one to become lost in creating another world out of form and color. Both are excellent ways to be practice being present in the moment, and to act intuitively and gracefully in response to whatever occurs.

Painting inevitably has a heavier, more serious side...whimsy and spontaneity must be balanced with a strong dose of left-brain activity...resolving the work and making it available to an audience are considerations, and little inner voices bring up criticism and doubt along the way. Deadlines, upcoming exhibits, and gallery requests hover in the air, and add a whiff of anxiety to the studio atmosphere.

Meanwhile, for me anyway, gardening remains lighthearted, playful, private, ephemeral, and full of simple pleasure. This is a photo of the garden that covers the bank just outside my studio door, and at this time of year I often step out, take a few breaths and feast my eyes.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
My younger son Ross will graduate from high school in a few weeks and I've been drawn into the nostalgia that surrounds this event...we're submitting a cropped version of this photo for the wall of childhood photos that will hang at the high school graduation party. We laughed that Ross (on the left, his older brother on the right) is still covered with mud after all these years--he is heading to Northern AZ University in the fall for a degree in ceramics.

Marveling at the growth of our kids is of course part of the joy of parenthood... memories of baby and childhood plus pride in the young adults they've become are all in the mix. But as I looked today at this photo of my two little boys (while tearing up a bit, I admit) I realized that while I'm celebrating Ross's graduation in this complex flood of emotions, including a fond look back over 18 years, it's kind of hard to have that perspective on my own previous two decades.

Photos from the same time period as this one show that the mother of these little boys was not only younger, but slimmer, more energetic and had far fewer gray hairs than today's version. And when I look at her image, my thinking kind of stops there. There isn't the same fondness for that woman that I feel towards these little boys--it's more like envy, or distress over the ravages of time. I'm thinking this is probably a common experience for those of us digging through old albums as our kids prepare to leave home.

But I do also recall that younger woman was chronically starved for studio time, often stressed and rushed, naive in certain ways, and going through all the struggles of an emerging artist. A lot has happened in 18 years towards her maturity as an artist (and perhaps as a person too.)

So I'm thinking, growth is growth, and let's celebrate it in all its forms! In spite of seeing it beautifully demonstrated by children, I think we're a bit slow to appreciate it in ourselves, distracted as we may be by gray hair and loss of youth. To all parents of grads--that kid that was you 18 years ago was sure cute, but look how you've grown!
Saturday, May 05, 2007
  new paintings
Here are two new paintings that are currently being packaged for shipment to Wilde Meyer gallery on Monday. They are #5 and #6 in the series I'm calling Verticals--very similar to the Column series, but on deeper cradled gessobord so they stand out further from the wall, and they are easier to ship since they can be unbolted. My Column series panels are mounted all into one unit, so they aren't so flexible in that way.

As with all the work I post, there are subtleties that don't show up in these small images. You can always click on the picture for a larger image, then use the back arrow key to return to the blog.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
  it's official (finally!)
About a month ago, I wrote about my trip to Santa Fe, and said that things were a bit up in the air with the gallery situation there as a result of personnel changes. It was a rather difficult time of uncertainty--but the wait is over. I got a call last night, and can say now for sure where I'll be represented--Darnell Fine Art, also on Canyon Road, but a smaller, more intimate gallery than 707 Contemporary (where I was originally accepted.) There will be opportunities for solo shows that would probably not have existed at 707, and I'm pleased with all other aspects of the gallery as well.

The back story is that Janine, the director of 707, took a new position at Darnell in March, and asked me to accompany her there. Her transition into that job, and the approval from the owner to bring in a few new artists, including me, took several weeks. My challenge during that waiting time was to trust in the best outcome, whatever it might be. I can't say I was a complete model of patience, but I did OK, and I'm definitely relieved and pleased at this point. I'll be sending four paintings from my Milwaukee show to Santa Fe in a few weeks, to add to the three that are already there.


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       Rebecca Crowell