Saturday, June 26, 2010

. . . were truly amazed

I was headed for a meltdown the other evening. My attitude was bordering on self-pity. . . I felt a hint of a tear in the corner of my eye. Hysteria was looming. As a remedy, my daughter suggested that I join a gym, or, at the very least, become a member of a book club. Oh, Stephanie, you know me better than that; me at a gym? It is to laugh. I am not a joiner, not since high school, when I signed up for everything to get out of class as often as possible. I am simply a hermit. So I paint. And here's the truly amazing part: absolutely everything that was bothering me disappeared with the fortuitous stroke of the brush; a line placed just perfectly, but accidentally, where it was meant to be; a combination of colors that meshed into something unexpected but luscious; an experiment that produced something beyond my expectations. All was right with the world again. How could anything be wrong when I was so delighted with my art? The pictures here were not part of that painting session, but rather are just things I had already scanned. Again, just experimentation for the sake of play.

This week I decided to try to impose some rules on my play. That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Anyway, I cut up some foamcore into 5" x 6" pieces; I also used some abandoned office envelopes and some of my stash of heavier papers from an artist's estate sale. I decided I would limit myself to using only black, white, and two other colors. I intended to use unexpected color combinations, or at least colors I normally don't use. That's really not working out that well. I find I gravitate back to my comfort zone colors very quickly. I applied extra heavy gesso to all the pieces and after they dried, started to mess around. I wanted to work quickly, intuitively. Here's a tip: if you are experimenting, and if you want to save your "good" artist grade paints for your "good" artist-grade paintings, go to Home Depot and get the little pots of Behr sample paint. They are cheaper than the art-grade stuff, and (here's an inspired idea) the lids have tiny little brushes attached. Way cool.

Don't really have a lot of time to surf the net any more, but I did come across an artist I like a lot that I haven't noticed before. His blog is here. And there is a program on our local NPR station featuring a local gentleman, who I plan to stalk and marry one day, just because he recommends exactly the kind of music I like but have never heard before. I don't remember his name and I have no idea what he looks like; he could look like a troll for all I care. I just love his voice and his taste in music. In a recent program about new music by woman, he featured V V Brown and I love every single track on her album. Tell me what you think.

Off to start a hot, humid, stay-indoors art-filled weekend. Have fun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

. . . really make art

Yes, I do. . . just nothing very good or saleable. But that's okay, because my NY art guy Walter tells me he hasn't sold any of my paintings for a long time. So it's a good time to just play. There's no pressure, just experimenting. I hope I become a better artist because of it. The play should count toward the 10,000 hours one must put in to become an expert, according to that book, the title of which escapes me at the moment, and I'm too lazy to go look it up.

One thing I believe is that whatever I create, I must create it completely from my own hands. I don't like to use other people's stencils, stamps, patterned paper, magazine pictures, words or type, whatever. I'm not too crazy about creating my own, either, but it's better that way for me. However, the little painting above does use a purchased stencil-type thing, something on sale at Michael's by Tim Holtz, but I think I'm using it wrong. I am going to keep using it like that, though, because I like the results.

I was telling my friend Jan at work about the other weekend when I was experimenting with artistically burning stuff, just checking out what would happen. I had a butane torch on the driveway in the sun and couldn't really tell whether the torch was lit or not. One of the less stellar results was that I burned a hole in a canvas, which is, after all, a look, is it not? After Jan quit laughing at me, she asked me if I just thought about art all the time. And I realized, yes, I did. All the time. And that perhaps explained to her my difficulty in grasping the accounting principles that my real paying job requires me to understand. But don't you artists think about art all the time? Everything has potential for inspiration. Except maybe those accounting principles.

One of my favorite artists is Susan Lenart Kazmer. She astounds me in her creativity. . . I mean, really, using little pencils or bullet casings to create amazing jewelry. My friend told me she had seen Susan's new line of jewelry findings at Michaels, so I just had to check it out. Too late. . . it was literally all gone, every single piece. I figured that part of the appeal was the sheer volume of the pencils and/or bullet casings (or are they shells, I don't know) she used to create her jewelry. So I thought, okay, what inane objects do you have an unlimited supply of that you could use in your art. Well, my calculator tape. . . endless rolls of it. . . because I could add three numbers three time and get three different answers. So I use a ton of that. Deer poop, always finding that in the garden. It's really the only way I get to see my day lillies, after the deer have processed what they ate. I have rejected the idea of using deer poop in my art, although, again, it's a look, I guess. But I have started saving my adding machine tapes, rolling them up in tight little coils, and dumping them in my leftover coffee cup. Don't know where this is going, but I'll keep you posted.

Too much rambling going on here, so I'll see y'all later.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

. . . created mobile gardens

Ah, yes, hope springs eternal. . . so in the hope that I will sell the house sometime, my gardening has been limited this spring to cleaning up and keeping the weeds at bay. Nothing new has been planted in the ground, not even to fill gaps left plants that didn't make it over the winter.

Everything I have planted is in pots. I know I will live to regret that when the weather heats up to 98 in the shade with oppressive humidity and blood sucking insects don't let me get further than a step or two out of the house before they attack. I will still need to water those pots.

I was inspired to create this wreath by something similar made by the designers at Red Cedar Gardens in Stillwell. It's my favorite place to visit for gardening inspiration. Most of the stuff I used was stuff I already had. The falling-apart grapevine wreath had been hanging out in the yard for a year. I stuffed it with some dirt, planted the little mossy things, crammed in a bunch of dried moss, and added the candle. Cool? I spritz it with my water bottle and hope that it will survive the summer.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

. . . were experimentally inspired

The last few days have reminded me of when I first started making art. Everything was an experiment, everything was new, and I didn't know anything about anything.

Like then, I'm having fun playing with various techniques that are new to me. In fact, I think I'm making them up as I go along. These techniques involve deli paper, wax paper, tissue paper, vinyl shelf paper, brayers, rubbing with my hand (I have a blister on my pinky), old envelopes, canvas, foam core, whatever else I can find at hand. . .

or underfoot, because my basement is a horrible mess. I can't find any tools, because they are buried under piles of papers. All my scrapers and pallette knives are caked with gesso, paint, ink. No brushes have been injured in this quest, however. Larger pieces of printed tissue paper and canvas dry on the floor. You may someday see footprints in my art.

And, like way back when, I'm having varying degrees of success. Some of these paintings are just awful, others are just okay, and there are even a few that I like. But most importantly, I'm playing, learning, inspired again, and it just doesn't matter.

In between bursts of creativity, I'm reading Carlos Ruiz Zafron's The Angel's Game. I love the following passage:

. . . there are a lot of people with talent and passion, and many of them
never get anywhere. This is only the first step toward achieving anything in life. Natural talent is like an athlete's strength. You can be born with more or less ability, but nobody can become an athlete just because he or she was born tall, or strong, or fast. What makes the athlete, or the artist, is the work, the vocation, and the technique. The intelligence you were born with is just ammunition. To achieve something with it you need to transform your mind into a high-precision weapon. . . (E)very artist's life is a small war or a large one, beginning with oneself and one's limitations. To achieve anything you must first have the ambition and then talent, knowledge, and finally the opportunity.