Ah… the pleasures of going through older work and reorganizing all the digital files of my drawings.
One of the memories that surfaced, along with the sorting, carries me back to living on 10 acres in the summer house of a former professor. I was just out of grad school. My daughter was not yet two, and our family raced (unsuccessfully) against a too-fast moving van carrying lots of our belongings out to this country road with a hand built house up on a hill.
There was a studio for me to use there, which came in handy for storing things, and making some monotypes on the small press. But most of the time I was working outside- crouching by roadsides, sitting at various places around the property, and exploring the surrounding countryside.
I was able to focus on my work, apply for my first teaching jobs, get a taste of rural isolation, and write lots of letters. We heated with wood and read a lot and survived all the minor mishaps of toddlerhood. Mostly very good memories, and lots of drawings and paintings- some of which I still have.
Stay tuned for my updated blog that will have purchase now buttons to let folks add something to their walls
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to show and sell my work through various venues, both traditional and not so much. This often meant being flexible when something went away, or my own situation changed.
So when my brick and mortar gallery avenue began to disappear due to retirements or closings, I started exploring the on-line gallery idea. One nice aspect of this was my ability to be more in charge of my own inventory, set my own prices and make original work very affordable for people who might not be experienced collectors or have a big bank account.
There were sites that worked fairly well for me, and lots of work found homes this way. . . but things shifted again.
So- to remedy this situation, I am going to organize and rework the collections on this blog and add a payment button through Paypal!
There might also be a different look to the site, and I am figuring out things on the back end. But just wanted to let those of you following me (or just discovering me) what to look for in the near future. Here’s to collecting artworks direct from the artist!
Everybody out of the drawers! Featuring 30 years of works on paper!
In addition to recent drawings and lots of smaller affordable original oils, I’m featuring 30 years of works on paper. Most of these were done without any thought to exhibiting them. So… now I have quite a collection of works on paper and they would love to find homes! At prices that will entice you. ($95 or less). So this is your chance to
30 years ago, I left Iowa with an MFA in my pocket. My destination was a rural location in Eastern Washington to house sit for Ben Frank Moss, a former professor. Essentially, in exchange for care-taking and getting the house ready for their return in the summer months, my family lived almost rent free for 10 months and I could paint to my heart’s content. It was a great gift.
Leaving behind the tumult, angst and intensity of 3 years of grad school (plus having a child in the middle of it) was a wonderful opportunity … a chance to catch my breath before starting on the yearly academic job hunting routine. It was a good year- very productive and I felt I could authentically respond to the landscape around me.
Recently, after reading a book about Swedish Death Cleaning (yes, apparently it’s a thing) I thought I’d go through some old journals. I also found an old folder of letters from friends and professors and faculty at other institutions from this period. Some of them date back to those tumultuous years in grad school, some came after when I began meeting colleagues around the country.
During my first year in the program, I couldn’t quiet my mind and settle down – and was feeling unmoored – but I was encouraged by a teacher I respected, not to give up. I needed to get tougher, more ambitious and work harder and in 10-12 years I would be able to find my painterly voice. At the time, that seemed like such a long road ahead, but now looking back , it really was about 10 years, before I found a subject matter that really moved me, and that provided the motivation to dive deeper into the content.
There was a constant flow of visiting artists that came through the building. Thanks in large part to how connected the faculty was to their own studio work and the larger art world. Sometimes they reinforced what I was hearing from others, sometimes they were totally on their own trip, and had a hard time relating to what I was trying to manifest.
Elizabeth Murray encouraged us to have ambition for the work, not for it’s own sake
Howard Rogovin – “don’t be afraid to let the work evolve into something else” …it could encompass “beauty and loss, poetry and strength”
John Dunn, who was a former theology student – spoke of the urge to “see the vision” the compelling reason that we need to keep painting – and the four things at work in making a painting (or a life) : Habit – Will – Memory – Chance
I wanted air and light in my work. I was captivated by an atmosphere that was almost palpable but not at the expense of things literally dissolving away. I was encouraged to get contrast, clarity, or definite edge in the work- ie: things were often too gauzy or soft.
Selina Trieff –it’s all a matter of “back and forth-ing”
Sometimes I felt that people were gradually chipping away at what I came with, which is another way to say that we were constantly being challenged- learning to trust our instincts as they were informed by growing skill and questioning.
I was a good 10 years older than many of my cohorts, and perhaps felt the added pressure of making up for lost time. My personal life was more settled in some ways, but my studio life was far less sure. I could not make visible what I thought I wanted every time, but at least I was becoming more aware of my own language and voice.
I fixed on this quote from Nicholson Baker in the Atlantic, “ If your life is like my life, there are within it short sections…when your mind achieves a polished and complicated coherence. Your opinions become neat and unruffled-able…you are firm, you think fast, you offer delicately phrased advice. Such intermissions of calm are very rare in any case. Most of the time we are in some middle phase of changing our minds about many, if not all, things. We have no choice. Changes of mind should be distinguished from decisions, for decisions seem to reside in the present, while changes of mind imply habits of thought, a slow crystallization of truth, a partially felt, dense past.”
Slowly, things did begin to crystalize for me. Every once in a while, I began to make the intangible become visible and my mind could fall into intermissions of calm.
well, today there was an apparent Russian hack of Instagram, where I was slowly building up my following. First I got a notice that my password had been changed. (Not by me, mind you) Yesterday, someone changed my Amazon log in. but I was able to take that back and deleted my CC info.
Now my Instagram account seems to have disappeared, (or has been taken over by someone named Vasily in a bunker – HAH!).
8/24. update: actually it’s now listed as belonging to “Bargas Sarhai”
I’ve always liked my paintings to take me on some sort of journey-
To imply ‘somewhere’ just beyond, or a pathway to an undisclosed location. When they just appear to be a final destination, I find them less compelling and kind of lifeless.
After living with it for year, I felt I had to redo the large Bunch painting. It was an interesting technical challenge to get all those overlapping and interlocking blades of grass to make sense, and I worked on it for months- but it seemed like a wall that stopped me cold, rather than invited me into a place. (wasn’t ever crazy about all that yellow either)
It was just an image, not an experience. So in keeping with my new strategy of not adding piles of new smaller paintings to my basement racks, I decided to sand it down and revisit the painting.
I am not quite at the point where it feels like the experience I want to have, but it’s getting closer. Here are some of the steps forward so far….
Watching the Olympics earlier this year we saw incredible athletes who had trained and worked for the past four years in preparation for their one moment, get only one chance to either advance or see the final result. No matter how prepared, a rut in the ice, a patch of soft snow, a moment of distraction or loss of focus could spell disaster – they couldn’t say “do-over”.
How unlike painting, when I am allowed to sand, scrape and repaint over parts or the entirety of an earlier piece that just didn’t seem to express what I wanted. And I get to do it in the privacy of my basement. Maybe this is why we call making art a “practice”. After 30 years, I’m still practicing. And getting lots of “do-overs”.