Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ah, the Muse

I have been thinking a lot about "the Muse" and where it goes and when it comes back.  I have decided there is no muse lurking out there waiting for me to come into the studio.  I have only me. And that means I have to feed the soul regularly with ideas, thoughts, images, feelings and lots of work.  The work includes cleaning up the studio, painting papers for collages, searching out new artists, learning new ways of doing things and trying new ideas.  It also means working in multiple media as one media feeds my thoughts into another.

For instance, as I work on painting papers in a new palette of color, I have been thinking about using these colors in my fabric collages.  And, again, as I incorporate more texture into my paper collages, I think a lot about how I can incorporate more texture into my fabric.  The ideas are sloshing around in the back of my brain, incubating.  Some times I take the time to sit down and write the ideas in my sketch book, but many times I just let them free float around in the grey matter.

Taking the painting class has been really good for me.  I am working in a media I really have never worked in before (oil painting) in a way I don't generally work (layers and layers and layers) and learning as I go.  I have been learning, not just with this class, but also the one with Gerry Brommer, that I can take my time to think about what I am doing and why.

I was talking to the instructor last week about how much I am having fun with this process.  And he reminded my that art isn't always fun.  On this point, I absolutely agreed and shared with him my thought that it was work but the work of art is problem solving which I really enjoy doing, therefore, the work is fun. The joy of taking the time to really look at what you are drawing on that canvas. The play of different colors. The multiple colors used in the foundation, none of which will be around at the end of the painting. And knowing that it will change and that how it changes will be up to me.

I continue to do my small paper collages and really enjoy these.  I am getting quite a stack of them and will have to figure out what to do with them.  But, for now, just enjoy:

This 7 x 7" piece is all in neutrals with various rice papers with inclusions.  So far, the tints I have used on it are all neutrals, quite a change for me. I am trying to decide if I want to add some color to this or not

This 6 x 6" piece is created using some rice paper, some stained papers that I have been doing and texture from wallpaper samples.  Again the colors are rather subdued and reflect a big pile of papers I have been painting the past several days.

Again, using the same colors as the piece above, but shades instead of tints.  What fun I am having trying out new colors, new color ways, layers of color and who know what else.  

This one was actually finished a few days ago, again using the quinacridone gold and other paints. I love the depth I have gotten with this and the different textures.
 More work is waiting me on the table.  Collages part way done and a painting that I did some time ago that I am now ready to change into something totally different with a really different way of painting.  Too much fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Still organizing

I am still organizing in my studio at home...partly because I still have things to bring in to it from my old home studio.  Ah well.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours doing that kind of work. I had a lot of large sheets of Japanese papers, and other assorted fancy papers that sat in a stack about 4" tall on the bottom shelve of a work table.  It was hard to get a piece from the stack.  So, thought I, why not cut them down?  But, of course, I tear them up into smaller pieces anyway so a-cutting I did go.  Took me about an hour to get them all quartered which then made a stack of paper about 12 inches high.  However, they all fit into three wire baskets for storage in my shelving unit.  Way to go, Liz.  They are out of the way, out of the light and in manageable sizes.  Now why didn't I think of that sooner?

I also took the time to find all of the assorted small pieces of mat board and watercolor paper that had been cut and got them all in to a bin, ready for painting.  I also collected all my large sheets of watercolor paper and got them tucked away.

I did spend several hours working on a couple of collages.  I had received a bunch of new papers to use for collage (didn't I just say I had a 12" stack of papers?) which had wonderful textures.  So I just had to play with them.

Each of these is about 7.5 x 7.5 inches.  I am truly having fun.

This morning I told my husband I had a couple of projects that needed his help and he agreed to help me with them today.  I have also found that if I get my drill out and make noise with it, he comes running up to my studio to see what I am about to do and, of course, he knows how to do it better.  I just need to be sure he does it the way I want.

I had gone to Ikea to pick up some organizing stuff (my entire studio seems to have come from there) and got a shelf and a tool bar which he installed at my prized possession, my commercial sink.  Here you can see it hanging at the sink with the flatware baskets that I use to hold my brushes after I wash them.  

In this picture you can see the entire set up.  There is a metal shelf about the bar, a drain thingy for containers to dry in (lots of washing but not dishes!).  I have set this up so that I can use magnets to hold my stencils from the edge of the shelf after I wash them and they drip right in to the sink...I am just too clever!

And, after years of using a little bitty corner sink at my Oakland studio, I now have this sink which is holding a 5 gallon bucket.  The image above shows the faucet and the rinsing sprayer which really gets the paint off stencils and other stuff.  Just love was probably the most expensive thing in the new studio but so worth it.  To the right and just above the drainer you can see the on demand water heater.

My dear husband also but a shelf up for me over my printing table.  I will get pictures of them to post also because I think that set up is really great too!

Last Thursday I began another adventure.  I had signed up for a UC Extension program in painting and had the first painting class in San Francisco.  It was so great to be back in an academic environment.  There are only 11 students so it is very nice.  The studio has lots of light and looks out over the street and is in the SFMOMA area...the museum is right across the street to I may go to SF in the morning and go to the museum and then have lunch and then to class.  The only down side is that I am commuting home on BART (our rapid transit) during rush hour when I leave and have to stand up the entire way.  holding lots of stuff....oh well, back to school I go.  Spent a ton of money buying oil paints which I have not used for 45 years in college.  When I first started painting, acrylics had come out and that is what I always worked with.  So now, this Thursday, we start painting in layers, the old master way....I just have to find three things to bring in for my still life and am looking all around the house of things I would like to paint.

I am truly on a trip of my life!  I am having so  much fun and am so energized and am stacking up a big pile of new collages.  I am also painting papers to use in my collages and will be making more paper-fabric which I can then use in my fiber all comes back together.

In looking at the two collages above, the one sure looks like my fences works...guess I just can't get away from certain things.  Fences and circles are important symbols for me and do show up very frequently, whether I want them to or not!

Well, back to the studio for the day...papers to paint and collages that are ready to paint are calling me...

Monday, February 04, 2013

Looking Back and finding direction

Carol and I drove home all the way on Saturday, arriving home about 10pm.  Sunday I tried to sleep in but didn't manage and finally last night I slept well and long....

So, what else did I do at the Brommer workshop? I am going to re-post the images I put up on the blag before because I now have better images which show more of the subtlety of the work.

This image is a play piece.  I had done the water color and collage and set it aside the first day.  Then decided on Thursday to play with a pen and see what happened.

I have a collection of practice calligraphy papers from either China or Japan.  They are on washi and are great in collages.  In this picture you can see the layers of papers and paint. This is done in watercolor on the second day.

Another watercolor done on mat board. This was done on the third day.

Another watercolor, also on mat board  which has been enhanced with gold pen. This utilizes old account ledgers. This was done on the 3rd day.

A very simple watercolor collage using heavily textured washi.  This was done on the fourth day.

A collage done in acrylic with a great deal of texture. This was done on the first day.

Another collage, also done in acrylic, this was done on the second day.

This collage utilizes paper from an old map and is also done in acrylic which was done on the second day.

A much more subtle image of trees done in watercolor with a printed paper. This was done on the first day.

A collage done with papers altered with citrasolv and the background is done in macecious iron oxide.

A watercolor collage done the first day.

Another watercolor collage done on the second day.

This is one of my final pieces and is larger done on mat board which was done on the last day.  

A watercolor collage done on the first day.

A watercolor color collage done on the second day with gold ink

What you are not seeing right now is a flower collage and also my landscape collage.  I have altered the landscape again and am still thinking about it.  We will see if it shows up.

So today I got the collage portion done on five new works.  It is really exciting to be hyped up about what I am doing again.

Lessons I learned from Jerry;

Do my own work.
It doesn't matter how many styles I want to work in, do it.
Have fun.
Work on composition first.
Different artists see things differently.
I have the freedom to create.
Some people see things simply and others complexly.
There are lots of ways to paint a rock or a flower.
None of those ways is the "right" way.
Sometimes you have to sacrifice some reality in order to make the painting better.
Painting evolves...don't stop the process.
Explore, try, experiment and  grow.

I spent time talking with Jerry and during this time I realized that I have been striving to do work as good as other people's, you know, those at the top.  I am not at the top and I have decided that I will not end up at the top.  I am a good artist and like what I do and my vision of things.  It is quite alright to do my organic work and my geometric work, both different styles but both still me. I can work in as many styles as I like and it is still my work.  My voice will come through no matter how I work or what medium I work in.  I like to teach and should teach more often.

I don't need to constantly strive to make something new.  Do what I enjoy doing and keep at it. I don't need to listen to other people (a hard thing to do). I can give up all of the goals that other people set for themselves and just be happy with my work and my way.

Best of all, Jerry helped me to see that my work is good and it is my own.  There is room for improvement and that is called growth...onward Liz!