Paintings off the Wall- Don’t try this at home

This falls in the “arghhhhh” category.
Sometimes we try things, and they don’t prove successful.
Back when I was feeling a need to recommit to painting again, I thought I’d go big, and get out of a rut. I had just seen some gallery shows where work was displayed directly on the wall, in various ways, unframed . Suspended, from an artful rod, attached with magnets, attached directly to the wall..etc. The result was, I began to think that perhaps I could conceive of doing some paintings that wouldn’t begin with the usual process of banging stretchers together, stretching canvas, and priming it.
It was kind of liberating to just staple a large expanse of canvas on the wall and work directly on it. I thought of perhaps binding the edges in some way or sewing tabs on the top edge, hanging it from a unique rod of some kind.
But, somehow, the scale of these pieces, didn’t work flat on the wall.
So, after the fact, I decided to stretch already existing paintings. Not my favorite thing to do. But in the end, it will be a better result.P1020689 Too bad some of the P1020691painting is now wrapped around the edge and no P1020692longer visible- but I’m going to remedy that.P1020693

Perhaps some time in the future, I’ll work on paper and/or do something creative about hanging or displaying them. For now, this seems like the better way to go.

P.S.  Frankly, I feel somewhat annoyed that I couldn’t make this work in some new way, and it’s a nuisance to stretch an already existing painting.  They just don’t like being bent around a 45degree angle. It doesn’t look as finished as if I started out stretching plenty of canvas to wrap around the back.  So, now I have to slap on a frame or something to make it look  finished.  Next time, more deliberation, or leaving a bigger margin all around! Silly me.    What have you tried that didn’t quite pan out?

A View inside my Studio

It’s a Saturday, P1020635when we were expecting six inches of snow to be on the ground, but no such luck. While I’m ruminating on deeper subjects to write about here, I thought I’d give a glimpse into what’s on the walls and under way in the basement.

I am usually working on more than one piece simultaneously.  It’s a bit like cooking a complex meal.  You are aware of various things simmering, waiting to be prepped and you jump in when something is needed. You are aware of the sequence of steps you take as they overlap and build towards some kind of conclusion. You act on impulse, you act on experience. P1020647

The two large pieces might eventually be stretched. And the small ones on the right are a continuation of the “Grasslands” series.  (bonus- I recently got a new cart to store painting supplies and it rolls around so nice and is just the right height for me)

Working with oils asks for patience and a lot of reworking the way I use it.  The larger pieces with so many stalks and movements in space also call for keeping it all straight in my conscious mind. I am creating a maze of overlapping elements, and also monitoring the overall movement/balance/spatial qualities/color…etc…etc.  What appears to be spontaneous and instinctual can also ask for many small decisions- over and over.

Over-under-over-under, repeat.

making an impression…

the lovely Griffin

 The lovely Griffin etching press that I was able to buy years ago (with a professional development grant while teaching ) has been patiently waiting in my basement studio for me to return.

plate ready to go

This past week, I had to crank out an edition of 15 prints for a show/print exchange at Pierce College in Tacoma, WA.  I had been meaning to get back to this, but as so often happens, a deadline does the trick.

So… now the ice has been broken and I can keep at it during the summer.

Making a ‘series’ of monotypes is a bit of a contradiction, since each print is unique and can’t be replicated.   What we’re talking about is making 15 individual paintings and then squashing them one by one onto dampened paper under pressure.  The other exciting part of this is that I will get 13 random little prints sent back to me.  What a great idea, and only possible when working in this medium.

laying the paper on the plate

After this brief interlude, I’ll get back to prepping for the 2-day studio tour in June.  Maybe do some prints to expand on the ideas for the new series of grass/weed imagery.  It was a very nice interlude, indeed.

New Work – Sprouting up

My strategy in this year has been to back off the unnecessary and clear my head….decide if I wanted to keep painting, decide how I would go about that, decide what really intrigued me enough to make work about it.  The Creative Capital workshop seemed to help propel me past my earlier funk, and gave me the courage to just do what mattered to me.  The result has been more drawings, and the beginning of an exploration of things that evoke the quality of being grounded AND tangled…in fact, they are about grass and reeds and such things.    Here are a few of the smaller pieces, hanging on the wall in the “done” section- yay!   

another new thing I’m learning…

My last studio newsletter was a number of months ago- and I like to put out a couple a year. Because my list is nearing 200, and I’d rather not deal with composing in a Word document- which makes the file wayyyyy too large. I’ve decided it’s time to buckle down and learn how to use Mail Chimp.

Which gives me way more functionality
and easier ways for people to opt in or out.(plus did I mention it’s free for a nice small business like mine)

Wow- they provide so much support and tutorial help, I’ll be swinging through the email trees in no time.

But- on a larger note:  it’s challenges like this to the brain that keep us mentally sharp as well!  So, I may never get around to learning Spanish like I probably should- (or maybe that should be Mandarin Chinese?) …  but my little synapses are getting exercised by all the tasks I do to try and generate interest in the work.    So.   Be looking for my latest newsletter soon….

plus, ya gotta love the Firefox cupcake header on my browser!

pruning and editing

Yesterday was a winter anomaly. A day in the high 50’s with sun shining.

Well, OK it’s almost March, but in these parts the snow can seriously fly this month.

prunings on the ground
30x22 charcoal, ©2012 Nanci Erskine

So, after consulting our recently made list of “stuff that we need to do around the house outside” I set out to get some pruning done on some bushes.  There is a lovely place by the side of our house where a natural doorway is made in a tangle of trees and shrubbery, that fleetingly bloom in late spring- but with winter snow loads, and time, it can get a bit out of control- bending and spreading in ways that become too dense; starting to shade out a bed where I put in some lilies a few years back.

As I began to sort and cut, deciding which branches and twigs to eliminate, I was struck by how analogous this process is to what I do in the studio with drawings and paintings now.  First, the impulse is to let things fly and get too overgrown,  and then I am compelled to go back in and start wacking away; removing and letting air and space back into the work.

It’s a process I like and find challenging, because it often means painting over passages, and then repainting on top of that, or scraping off something and rehashing how it works.