Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Process of Work in Process

There are many ways of beginning a painting.  Some do a sketch on the primed white canvas or paper.  Then they may put a wash or underpainting on to create a mood of light or dark, followed by blocking in the lights or darks.  Some go straight to the color, following the lines of their sketch.  I even knew one painter who worked directly from the top of the canvas to the bottom, on the most elaborately detailed images of fantasy that I have ever seen.  Perhaps it has to do with training.  I don't know.  But I think it may have more to do with one's personality or how the mind works.

Personally, I always begin with texture and a color wash.  I never begin with image, though often with thoughts of nature, most often of gardens (I think I miss the large gardens I had when I raised my children, and of the idyllic ones created by my son and his love in the San Juans where we spent some time this summer).  On large canvases (or board which I most often use) I use large trowels to spread texture medium, emphasizing areas with more or less texture.  I like the smooth feel of spreading the medium and the surprises that show up, created by rivulets, overlaps, creases, thin transparent spots and distinctive lines caused by the knife or trowel edge.  It is almost always in this first phase of the process that I can see what the painting is, but occasionally it takes another go after the first layer is dry.  While the medium dries, which can be a day or two, depending on thickness and humidity, I work on other pieces in other stages (but always on paintings, not gourds since the processes are very different as well as the mess I create), taking time to watch the new piece drying, becoming.  I will turn it, letting it rest on each side, lest I miss something wonderful trying to come out.  It is intuitive, I suppose.  Painting is a time of meditation for me - a time when I can more easily open myself to the flow from mind/imagination to hand.

Here are some pics of the ongoing process on one of several small pieces I am currently working on -

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Updated websites

Must be fall...I updated my websites - this one and - and posted a picture album on my FB page -  So, aren't I just feeling very proud of myself!  It's a brief moment in time to feel organized.  By this afternoon, I will be behind again.

My big news, in case you haven't heard me say so somewhere else, is that Syed and I are going to be grandparents in April!  My son and his lady are expecting, and we are ridiculously happy!  So, no question about whether or not we'll be headed to the San Juans next summer (notice the good timing?  Baby B-P will be 3 months old and surely sleeping through the night).

I am sorry to lose my great "guest blogger" -  she did such a great job, but back to school and life as a normal American more roti jala, nasi goreng, kari ayam, teh o'...just burgers now.  We had a wonderful time with her (our 13 year old granddaughter).  She was an extraordinary traveler, ate everything with enthusiasm, helped in the kitchen, carried her own gear, tolerated being stared at, and noticed her surroundings.  Hope she'll go with us again!

I have six 12" x 12" canvases with paint almost dry waiting for the next phase - it's a series on autumn for the Alexandria show in two weeks.  Back to work!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Carolina Wildflowers

Finished and delivered to the invitational exhibit, "Opening Acts", at the newly and fabulously rennovated Arts Council Building of Winston-Salem, NC - it's an honor to be invited to participate with these incredible artists in this gorgeous space.  The show opens Sept 9 and runs through Oct 24.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Work in Progress

Here are some pics of a work in process - Carolina Wildflowers - It's a large project with a surprise ending - so stay tuned for pics of the completed piece.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Finnegan!

It's 4:30 a.m. here in NC and Jet Lag has me in its grasp.  I forgot to take my Melatonin last night and am paying the price.  I don't really think all the remedies for jet lag work, but you do feel as if you are doing something to counteract the body's confusion.  So, I stayed awake for 15 of the 17 hour flight to LA and the 3 hours it took to get a car and drive to San Diego, arriving at 3:30 a.m., slept 4 hours, spent the day exchanging working tips with another artist, trying out some new tools and sharing design ideas, watched the video Little Whit put together of our trip, and crashed, after taking a Melatonin, at 10 p.m.  Slept all night!  Thought I was home free!  Left for NC at 11 a.m., arrived home about 8 p.m. dog tired and went to bed at 10....ooops....forgot the Melatonin.  Woke up at 1 a.m. and here I am.  The really weird thing about jet lag is the sporadic state of mental paralysis you experience while your physical body goes on about its business.  It kind of feels like the opposite of REM though all those rapid eye movements have become your wakful physical self while your mental self is asleep.  Perhaps I am actually asleep now but don't know it.

Being wakeful in the middle of the night is always swimming in a sea of ideas.  Being away from my studio for almost six weeks, away from working, is a time to gather fuel for the process.  The fuel from San Juan Island and then Malaysia is much to think about.  But since the most recent bowl of curry was had in Penang, my eyes and mind are still engaged with Chinese art and architecture.  These doors evoke a sense of the ancient, but also a connection with the hands that made them - the fine caving on some, the hand oiled surfaces, patinas from many decades of care.  The paintings of this wealthy and revered Chinese couple remind me of the craftsmen laboring in the building of their mansion, filled with the finest tiling, cabinets, furniture and paintings.  Standing on the cool tile floors, feeling the dark shuttered shade in deep rooms echoing from high wooden ceilings, I am struck with the grace of silence.  I can feel the ghosts of this family's servants who were murdered by the Japanese in WWII.  The family had escaped and the home lay vacant for 60 years, nearly ruined.  A great-grandson began the renovation.  And the renovation spurs my connection to craftsmen who came before me half a world and a century before.