January 21, 2019

Reference images for paintings


I've spent the last week preparing canvases. Cutting, pasting, screwing, priming, etc. I have not decided how to tackle the actual painting part yet. Today I printed some reference photos as a point of departure, a jumping-off point to get me started. 
It is everyday things that I find most interesting. I catch a glimpse of something and imagine a whole world within it and around it. These glimpses can sometimes be very personal parts of me and my day. Mostly they evoke something greater than just color or composition, something I can't really articulate. One day I would like to publish a whole book of my reference photos and collages. 
 
dreadlocks. this color. 


cherry tomatoes from the garden



this is dough.


a dwarf maple tree in my backyard



 


food that's gone bad and ends up in the trash is both an ongoing challenge, and resource for my work.
stemming from my desire to never let anything go to waste and my guilty conscience when it does



spotted this giant ball of rope at a friend's studio



                                                          
clearly I'm obsessed


this is not a staged photo. the dirty dishes were really piled that high 


Some photos are from Instagram and Pinterest. Sorry some image credits are unknown. If I've swiped a photo from you unknowingly, thank you! and let me know so I can give you credit.



January 8, 2019

Pragmatic distances

There are two things I've learned over the years, from running my own business, working for non-profits, and painting in my studio.

  • One is, don't take things personally, and 

  • Two is, most answers to most dilemmas are found in the most practical details. It's usually staring you right in the face, though sometimes it's your own face that's in the way of seeing it, if that makes any sense.


Relating to my studio work, the practical details start with my work space. When I'm in the studio I'm having a physical relationship with my work and my environment. Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest differences and I have to laugh at myself for not realizing it sooner.

How I go about the physical act of painting is so important to my work. Like the distance between me and the canvas while I paint. I have had days where nothing was working and all of a sudden I realized I was standing too far away from the canvas. Even six inches too far made a huge difference. I'm interacting with my paintings as if I were swimming around inside them almost. So anything that disconnects me is a distraction. For example, I spent years wearing rubber gloves while I painted. In the summer I'd be sweating and have to change them every hour, in the winter they'd get stiff and tear. Without them I'm so much happier. I'm able to literally feel the paint, and that adds a great deal to my relationship with the work.

Stolen burnisher is second from the right. Second from the left is an antique wooden handle screwdriver that belonged to my grandfather.

Other practical details include the tools I use. I've grown a serious attachment to some unlikely utensils, like toothbrushes and old screw drivers. For unknown reasons, back in (I think) 1992, I stole a burnishing tool from my printmaking class. Don't ask me what I thought I was going to use it for. It's been floating around every studio I've had, at the bottom of every pile of things I never look at, all these years. Until recently. I don't know what made me finally start using it, but it scrapes off paint like nobody's business and I can honestly say it's my favorite thing right now!

Speaking of utensils, there's a giant icing spatula (aka palette knife) I've been eyeing at the fancy kitchen shop on Main Street for a while. It could seriously be the next best thing...

It's good to get older because you do get wiser after all. I'm learning a little more each day what works for me, and that tiny changes can often make huge strides.



January 3, 2019

Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray

Bowtie, 2000
Everybody Knows, 2007, oil on canvas, 87 1/4 x 93 inches

(the last painting made before the artist died in 2007)


To follow through with some of those unfinished posts I recently mentioned, here is Artist of the week Elizabeth Murray.


Elizabeth Murray's heroic paintings are as fearless as the life she seems to have led. A woman who wanted it all, and achieved it against all the odds; to have her children and family, and her artwork all playing center stage at once. She is a hero and an absolute inspiration. 
The Sun and the Moon, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 feet 
Do the Dance, 2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9 1/2 x 11 feet
Kind of Blue, 2004, oil on canvas on wood, 9 x 11 feet
Midnight Special, 2000, oil on two canvases, 92 7/8 x 129 1/2 inches
Bill Alley, 2006, 3D lithographic construction, 35 x 41 1/4 inches
Hey Madge, 2001-02, oil on canvas on wood, 53 x 48 inches
Worm's Eye, 2002
Cry Baby, 2000, oil on canvas, 105 3/4 x 105 3/4 inches
Path/Door, 2002
Mister Postman, 1998, oil on canvas, 82 x 77 inches
for a better sense of scale: Bop, 2002-03, at MOMA

As always, I try my best to include the correct information for the images I post. In this case I was unable to find full descriptions for a few of the paintings. It's both surprising and infuriating how many images are out there without any credit to the artist or the work.

With one exception, these paintings are all from 2000-07. There are so many more layers to her work and it's nice to see the progression throughout the years, but these just screamed EXUBERANCE to me so that's where I started. 

Further looking and reading:

Pace Gallery
elizabethmurrayart.org
Art21
Everybody Knows, a PBS film