I began this piece last week planning on creating a piece that includes a crow in some manner as my family has always called me Crow-Talker. It seemed that this work is predestined when I visited Jeb Matulich's blog and saw the new piece he collected...a crow by Brice McCasland. When I think of the crows that speak to me from the evergreen trees in our yard, I think of blues that are almost black and touches of red - both such strong colours. In between drying times I've also been reading a book given to me by a friend titled 'The Law of Happiness' by Dr. Henry Cloud whose book 'Boundaries' changed my life in that I finally learned that it is okay to say 'no', even to things that might be wonderful but that you know in your heart are going to deplete you in terms of time, added responsibility, etc. Anyway, in this book he discusses the science of happiness and created a list that all happy people have in common, they:
"It's a choice we artists make, that is not too unlike love,
where we find ourselves venturing into a realm of total vulnerability."
~ Kirk Wassell
I'm done. And I'm very happy with this piece - it's been turned around and around so many times and I'm excited that compositionally it holds its own in any direction. I wanted to create something soft, something feminine, something spiritual, and I feel like I've captured what I was trying to say. I found my own voice in the abstract realm which still had to be representational (because that is just who I am) and it feels like a whisper to me. Though I have to admit that this has been a vulnerable time for me, for many steps along the way I have cringed and considered giving up but it has been so good for me to post the work as I go. You keep me accountable and I thank you for it. If you feel so inclined would love to hear feedback on this work. And, again I'm off to the studio - another different (but similar) project is on the back burner.
I've been studying many abstract artists over the past couple of years and was remembering my introduction to abstract painting in college when I realized that what I want to achieve meant I required richer colours in my base, so I went back in to darken everything - plus I decided to add a blessing as well. My goal is to complete this piece by working the negative space to create the positive shapes. One of the abstract painters I enjoy is performance painter Jonas Gerard - here's a link to a great video: http://youtu.be/1I1lfe1ngtc.
What I think I've almost enjoyed the most about working on this piece is the continual turning of the canvas as my intention is to complete a work that can be hung in any direction. This is reminiscent to me of Georgia O'Keeffe as she was asked how she felt about her work being hung incorrectly on occasion and she responded that she felt that good work should read well in any direction. She wasn't offended, but instead inspired. I've actually completed this piece but I'm just waiting for good light to take a proper photograph...can't wait to share it tomorrow!
I'll leave you with a few inspiring words by Mr. Gerard:
"Paint as if your life depended on it. Be totally present. Don't paint for approval."
This piece is undergoing some major transformations - learning to trust my instincts, taking the time to stop and really look as I go. As I was looking yesterday, I noticed the light hitting the canvas as it filtered through the evergreens outside the window and I was inspired to add these sunlit shapes. I had an idea of where this painting would go but to be honest I really don't know at this point. All I know for sure is that I'm enjoying this process.
This process is very interesting to me...lots of working and then as much (or more) waiting. For this second layer I chose to use a navy (pthalo blue mixed with a little napthol crimson) and cadmium yellow. Some heavy body acrylic and then some very watered down acrylics to allow for organic drips. It's been fun, but I keep Henri Matisse's words in my mind, "Creativity takes courage." This piece to me seems to put into form the title of the book 'Praying in Color' as I have always felt that painting was like a prayer for me, and even more so in this instance as I have to trust my intuition, which I believe is the Holy Spirit's guiding. What I find most interesting in this process is the fact that my final goal is to create a piece that can be hung vertically or horizontally, so I keep moving the canvas around, placing it on the floor and then again on the easel. I haven't worked like this in quite some time so it's been intimidating and extremely enjoyable all at the same time.
These days I've been doing a lot of reading about art & spirituality - 'Praying in Color', 'Art & Soul', 'The Artful Journal', 'Saying Yes: Accepting God's Amazing Invitation to Artists and the Church'. My current read is the best one yet, 'The Art of Soul'. The author, Regina Coupar, discusses the disconnect artists often feel in traditional religion and the importance of finding your spiritual community. She focuses on the merging of art & theology & spirituality. Though this book is mostly meant to focus on a series of art lessons, it is her reflection in between each chapter that meant the most to me. I've studied and practiced light, colour, perspective and balance. My work initially began as a way to honour my faith, featuring the student Bible that I read over a three year span to try to understand my place in this world. And when I worked in a church for a number of years, I thought that I was fulfilling that spiritual part of me, but the work was in management and finance which almost crushed me. Now I understand that I have been created as a creative and that there is a definite connection between my art and my soul. I still struggle to find my 'community' but I feel that it is getting closer, that the more I commit myself authentically to the work, the more connected I feel and I experience greater peace.
Years ago, in art school, the first painting I completed on a large canvas was an abstract. Since then I have completed a few more abstracts as commissions but, as you know, my focus has been on a recognizable subject matter. Last year I hung an exhibit at the library titled 'Direction' in which the artist, Aaron Hagan, created a body of abstract work which I thought was stunning. I loved the fact that each piece was wired to hang either vertically or horizontally allowing the patron of the work to be involved in the process of the art. These days I've been dreaming about abstracts again, though in bright, feminine colours and have decided to create one. This photo is its beginning - a canvas which was flooded with colour has been given a 'skim coat' of plaster to add texture. To me this feels like an emotional response to my thoughts on spirituality - my art & soul. I'm excited to see where this one takes me.
The weather has been a little insane lately - on Sunday we had winds that reached 160 km/hr (100 miles/hr) which meant that siding, windows & roofing was damaged on a number of buildings...downtown Calgary ended up being closed for a couple of days. Our house is fine and it was actually kind of cozy here. Just snuggled up and read and painted, my favorite things. Then we had flurries yesterday so I hunkered down and read and painted some more ;) In the studio I've been struggling with this large canvas I've been working on. Not sure if I want to reduce or increase the size of the canoes or to remove the canoe idea altogether and paint an interior. So, I will let it simmer and see what happens. I love those 'aha!' moments when I know without a doubt what to do. Instead I've been working on the little 'village' which I've placed on the window ledge - one of the first is currently on its way to Washington. On the daybed in the studio (my 'dream' zone) is a fan deck with colours that I'm considering for the walls...do I go green like the quilt on the bed or a grey-blue (my favorite colour which is also in the quilt) - do I paint out the chocolate wall, too, or just leave it? At times I think I would love to paint the whole room charcoal grey as I think the colours of the paintings would pop against that dark neutral. I wish I knew what we were going to do with the flooring downstairs, it would help with the decision-making process. But that in itself is another decision to make...bamboo? cork? marmoleum? And which colour - a deeper brown or more orange tones like the red oak flooring we have throughout our main floor or do we go for fun square tiles in a variety of colours? Sigh...too many choices. But fun, none-the-less.