began working in oil this week. I took a class many years ago and never liked it- particularly the clean up. this week Pink Soap and conditioner left my brushes clean and supple. free of that worry I felt like experimenting- so I returned to 2 pieces and to a theme I love. madonna misericordia is the “lady of mercy.” in medieval art she’s often pictured with her arms wide, cloak open and harboring all who come to her for help.
i’m drawn to the symbolism, themes and images in medieval and early renaissance art-
it’s been a while since I’ve posted but between my day job and my life coach certification program i’ve been busy BUT not too busy to make art and write. i’m at the mid-point of the certification process and several things are clear:
my creative practice is key to my co-active coaching practice. i knew that intellectually but the certification process (we work on our inner life as much as we work on the techniques of coaching) has solidified that knowing.
all i’ve ever wanted to do since i was a child is express myself creatively through making visual art and writing. that’s it. that’s the core of everything.
not that i don’t want to do other things. i do. i want my work in the world to be of service, and i want my creative expression to be central. does that mean i want to make art for money? leave my day job? i don’t know. but my inspiration today is, if i make creative expression through writing and art central to my daily life practice along with meditation many things, including my work in the world, will fall in line. i won’t have to make things happen. things. will. simply. happen.
experimenting writing in lower case. i do it in my poetry. it’s becoming a preference.
9.5″ x 9.5″ collage on paper with gouache, ink & ephemera. march 2017
9″ x 9″ collage on paper with gouache, ink & ephemera. march 2017 (this is correctly positioned not upside down)
For me, the desire to make is always there, and it’s especially pressing after coming into contact with the creativity of other artists, whether in the theater, a museum or book. But to actually make something I always have to scale a few obstacles.
#1 It feels wasteful to make more than I can storeI because I live in an apartment, use one room as a studio but storage is minimal and I’m a frugal, recycling kind of person.
#2 The feeling that art-making(includes all art forms) can’t possibly matter in a world so full of suffering.
I recently heard the Turkish writer, Elif Safak, tell a story on The Moth, where she mentions her struggle with #2, that push pull of whether or not to make art. It’s always heartening to hear another artist mention it.
So is there ever a need to refrain from making? I don’t know. I can’t answer for others I just know it’s a question I ruminate over.
This world of dew is but a world of dew and yet…
This haiku was written by the Japanese master, Kobayashi Issa, after the death of his infant daughter. Everything in 12 words. A poignant expression of the constant tension between knowing the truth of things- the insubstantiality of all experience and the need to live deeply engaged.
Below, four new works.
Byzantine Cross, 15×15 inches, oil, ink, paper on board.
Coal Cross, 9x11inches, ink, gouache, collage elements on paper.
I’ve been in the middle of a job search–or a search for work (they’re not necessarily the same thing)–so posts have been irregular as I try to figure out a regular source of income. The one place I post fairly regularly is Instagram and have noticed an uptick in likes and comments the last few months.
My main art practice process is making marks without “thinking” or planning–to take whatever materials are close at hand and make an image– usually in less than 20 minutes. I deal with all sorts of negative questions as I work: “this is ugly, you should do something that takes longer (it’s not real art if it takes so little time to execute), etc.” 99% of the time I love the finished piece.
The piece below was an “ugly” piece in the beginning with lots of negative thinking to accompany the making. But it surprised me–as those piece almost always do–layers of unconscious meaning stared at me when I finished.
I set myself the task of doing a collage a day and almost got to 10 days but life intervened. Now that I’m back in the studio, I plan to begin this process again with the goal of increasing the size of the paper/support. I’ve long wanted to work larger. My studio doesn’t support huge but I can certainly do larger than these which are all about 7″x9″.
Each was created in under 30 minutes, with materials at hand. I simply wanted to see what would come of the process since I hadn’t worked that way with collage in a while.
I wanted a book of collected images, both my own and others, to keep track of themes in my work. Initially the idea was to create order out of chaos–I was feeling overwhelmed by all the images I was painting and drawing–but I think it will be more like herding cats.
This idea to have a place to review images is new, and I think it will be helpful. I copy images from various sketchbooks, some I have in my studio, others are portable, but they record themes, images, and ideas that surface again and again. I want to work these into oil paintings or larger works on paper. Gouache is a great favorite but I am constantly attracted to oils. Soon.
I have an idea to create a series of narratives based on themes, like the Seven Sorrows of Mary, or themed sequences, like the Stations of the Cross. Also to look closely at the gestures used in these paintings. I discovered a book called Gestures of Despair that examined shared gestures across medieval and renaissance art. Symbolic gestures were developed in part because, though few could read words they could easily read gestures. Gestures fascinate me. We forget how rich and utterly human they are.
I recently heard a woman who receives dialysis tell a story. One day, while in the hospital, alone in her room and in great pain, a nurse came in to check the machine–her brusque manner made plain she was very busy. She barely looked at the woman and didn’t speak, but on the way out, she stopped, turned around and went to the woman’s bedside. The woman’s voice broke as she described the nurse wordlessly, gently brushing the hair from her face, and for a moment cradling the woman’s cheek with her hand. I was in tears listening. An example of the power of gesture.
magdalene, ink and gouache on paper, sketchbook
deposition (after Van der Weyden), ink and gouache on paper, sketchbook