What sent me spiralling was a comment or an observation a friend made of me saying in essence that I should remember that really as professional artist I'm just getting started... that was a blow to my ego at first because then what have I spent the last twenty years doing? In reflection, I see that she was spot on...and to answer my own question, I've spent the last 16 years learning my painting technique and honing my skills as a painter. I've spent the last 4 years which includes graduate school figuring out what my ideas and concepts are and what it is that interest me content wise. What I've neglected to do is figure out my process and spend time developing it, slowing down to contemplate, test ideas, explore alternatives and live within the moments of the process. Sure I talk about this to my students but I began to question have I actually been doing it myself? Am I practicing what I'm preaching?
This home studio residency was the first step in answering these question. In graduate school, we had a visiting artist once make the statement that when he went into his studio he didn't always know what he wanted to do, and his response to this no knowing exactly was to just paint.... basically just start and see where it leads you. This is what I've been doing over the last 3 weeks.
I first started out thinking about shapes and color. I drew 30 amorphous shapes. From those I narrowed my selection down to a few shapes that I found visually interesting (I got the idea for the shapes from an antique Matisse Poster advertising his Jazz series exhibition in 1956 (it might have been 1958... but the exhibition was in Paris and the poster is real BTW.) It is hanging in our power room on the first floor. Anyway, I decided to explore shape and color and collage, the idea being I'd use color samples I gathered from Home Depot's paint department. I decided to start with varying shades of blue. I also got to thinking about all the black frames I have left over from my Genealogy of Hair exhibition and thought about composition and those frames and what if I started backwards... start with the frame and use that picture plane as the starting point for the composition. In the process I experimented with staying within the plane and breaking the plane.
While experimenting with that I started to consider my original concept for my 3-d cupcakes Twenty Four Cupcakes and One Banna Split and I thought about collaging and what that might look like applied to one of my cupcakes that orginally had been a failure due to issues with the glazing. About that time I was also experimenting with the sketchbook that my friend Lisa Kennedy and I are sending back and forth to each other... I had an idea for that, which tanked - it involved gold leaf, portraits and collage (inspired by Gustauve Klimt)... that experiment was crap (still working on the sketchbook) but the gold leaf collaging got me thinking about the cupcakes... what if I....
Gold leafed my cupcake? And here is the result.. I took the first cupcake that I made which I loved except for the glaze and applied the gold leaf. I chose this one because of its weight and how it felt in my hand and lets face it if one has a 14k gold cupcake wouldn't they want it to have some weight to it? So from the collage I experimented with gold. From there I started thinking about other kinds of paper and could I collage other failed cupcakes? In looking through my speciality papers, I found this black line drawing that was on the back of another cut up drawing.
That drawing which you see here in this repurposed frame got me thinking about line verses shape and about dark lines or dark marks and what could these mean to me? As I moved into this direction I started writing down thoughts, bits of ideas, phrases and tacking them to my studio wall (I'm thinking at some point maybe this writing will turn into an artist statement about the work). And, I started noticing dark lines in my daily walks with Molly. Shadows of things that created lines, cracks in the surface on which we walked... I looked at how the lines changed with the light, and how values change through lack of light and I took these mental observations back to my studio and started working... I'm still working...
Both small scale (again using the repurposed frames of which I have sooooo.... many and having mats cut to fit the frame) and
large scale. Having worked only in realism and observation thus far, this is a new adventure that seems to be working well with my exploration into process so I think I will continue and see where this takes me. Of course, I'm still working on my American Beauty series as well as the One in Eight installation. And I'm continuing to play and experiment with printmaking... I'm reading a great book on beginning printmaking which surprisingly fits well into my process work!
So there you have it, the summary of my home residency experience.