Friday, June 22, 2018

The World Split Open (3 Part Series--so far)

Each of these sections of the triptych is 36"x24", acrylic on canvas 

I didn't know about Kathe Kollwitz when I created this triptych. I only knew the lines from the poem "Kathe Kollwitz" by Muriel Rukeyser that were quoted in a book I read that examined the Madwoman archetype: 
What would happen if one woman told the truth about
       her life?
    The world would split open

In fact, I have quoted these lines in an earlier post thinking that it would be the title of the series I was working on at that time. But the timing was not right until now. 

After this triptych was completed, I decided to read the full poem by Rukeyser. But I didn't get it. Until I realized that Kathe Kollwitz was an artist and that I could immerse myself in study of her to understand the poem in its entirety. And holy shit. Did I get some powerful connection to then believe that this work I had done was appropriately titled. The connection I felt for the artist and the poem written about the artist was exquisitely painful in all of its gory and glory. Anti-war socialist? Hell yeah. Examining what could be considered the minutiae of everyday life to those of global ramifications. Absolutely. I was seeing all that in these pieces of the triptych as I worked each panel. From the cellular level to the perils of life and facing death, from the individual through to the community local and at large. Add to that, she worked largely in black and white in her drawings. This all together got me right in my core, in the very center that was the birth of my work. 

Sometimes everything fits in the most mysterious of ways.

Below are the links to Rukeyser's poem and to a bio about Kathe Kollwitz.

There are more websites about Kollwitz and of course images of her art online. I am still immersing myself in her.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Tools of the Sketchbook Project Work

Recording this so I don't forget:

Tools of Techno-Textures that I used for rubbings and stampings are pictured below:

buttons from a fax machine, the casing for Apple earbuds.

some kind of wooden embellishment purchased from a craft store

fax machine cover (one of my favorite mark-making tools)

Char-kole, white pastel, watercolor crayons, acrylic Quinacridone Nickel/Azo Gold

rust dust (formerly rust soup made to soak metal items in so that they catch the rust and get started on their rusting process, but then all of the soupy evaporated, leaving dust and a very cool pattern--it's a mystery to me.

I also used matte medium for collaging and for sealing some parts of the work.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project

Below are the pages of the sketchbook I created for the Sketchbook Project. As soon as I put vellum between the pages--the charcoal is very unstable and potentially messy--I'll sew the pages together and mail it off. Not true, I still have to figure out the initial pages and cover. Perhaps photo images of my rubbing tools.

I'm having a little trouble with the idea of letting go. Once again, that metaphor inserts itself into my life. Ugh. Just let go.

Media: Charcoal, Pastel, Water Color Crayon, Acrylic, Rust.
Techniques: Rubbings, Stampings, and Collage. Each page 7"x5"

The link below explains about the project.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Meditation on Somatic Memory 
36"x24" Acrylic on canvas

I've been living with this painting for a few weeks now. I've deemed it finished. I don't see any light or dark places that stop my movement within the painting. And all of the forms that I see change. A couple of days ago, I saw Captain Kangaroo in there. I told myself, "If he's still there tomorrow, he will have to go." But I couldn't find him again.

The process was to lay down a think layer of gesso, not particularly even throughout the canvas, and then to stamp into the gesso. So I used a spiral shaped plastic piece I have, the fax cover that I've used in charcoal drawings and another painting in the past--that's responsible for the marks in the bottom section of the painting. And I used a rectangular tool with the idea to make more architectural representations, buildings maybe. In the end, I put three skewers in my hand, spread unevenly, and dragged them squiggly through random parts of the composition. When I left the painting to let the gesso dry, I could see some of the marks softening into each other. I had mixed feelings about that. And then, after the gesso had dried, there were lots of popped air-bubble holes, and in general, there seemed like a lot of busy-ness at the bottom of the composition. To create that had been my original intention--I wanted a lot to be happening down there--but seeing it? I had mixed feelings.

But I moved forward, confident at this point that I'd resolve any of those issues by working it more. Moving forward meant moving the dark into the low-lying places. I sprayed the painting with my water bottle, getting it really wet, and floated in the perfect grey (black made from the primaries). I was unhappy with splotches of paint that didn't float, but if I tried moving them, that changed what was happening in other unsatisfactory ways. So I walked away to let it dry.

When I came back to the dry painting, I could see where I needed to add more dark and more light and tried working with splotches and air holes. I could see places where some of the red, violet, and very subtle blue-green had pulled out of the perfect grey I had mixed. I made the decision then to have that be my "only" color.

When I started adding more dark in, using my fake chamois, I could see how the paint moved on the gessoed areas and loved the forms that were emerging. That there are human forms for me, quirky animals, creatures from "Labyrinth," the form that changes from elephant head to scary profile to haunch and body of a fearsome cat, ladders to who knows where, collapsing structures, and the occasional Captain Kangaroo make this more meaningful for me. It seems dreamlike and as if I were glimpsing into a lifetime of things experienced, observed, and fancied. It seemed as if the outer wall were carved away or destroyed so that what is revealed is the inner-scape.

Two things then happened to help me understand the painting and make peace with my media. My daughter and I were having a conversation about cellular memory (she said this has nothing to do with your cell phone plan). We were talking about babies and what they recall. Events may not be in their conscious memory but stored in cellular memory--it's our somatic memory. I thought about how I'd been thinking about the bottom part of the painting as cells and veiny kinds of structures. And how some of the forms had made me think about the creatures that live under your bed so that you don't dare stick your foot out of the covers as you sleep--no matter that you live in Phoenix, it's 112 degrees, and you only have evap cooling, you still have to sleep covered up. All that's in the painting. It holds somatic memory. There's places of birthing and of languishing, there are guides and demons, efforts to reach new heights and places of respite from the climb, and the screaming being will forever be a part of this, as will the form that holds their hand out in offering. That's somatic memory. From that came the title.

But I was still cranky about the air holes in the white and the mottled of some of the dark. I went over some air holes with more gesso. But decided that leaving some added to an erosion kind of effect. I evened out some of the mottled grey in the low places. But I still wasn't sure about that effect. Then a friend who was traveling in Ireland posted some pictures of some of the rock formations at Burren National Park. I gasped when seeing her images. She said she had thought of me when she posted the pictures. The aged stones, the grass growing between them, reminded us both of my work. But in the detail of that, what I noticed finally, the rocks were mottled grey! Peace made.

I feel as though everything I've been doing as an artist has led to this painting. I'm excited and, yes, a little scared about what comes next...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Memory Stick 40" x 16"

And it is completed. I decided that the piece needed an archway, perhaps to suggest we are getting a peek into a chasm of time. I wanted the archway to appear to be barely containing the communication process, communication through time, the memory of communication. It's splitting apart, perhaps imploding, hence the fieriness, some charing. The archway is made of a composite paper cup holder from starbuck's. I tore it up into pieces intentionally using the pieces that would stick out from the canvas and the pieces that appeared like a Y (architectural features?). Micaceous Oxide again to make it look stone-like, of the earth.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Working Title: Memory Stick (40 in x 16 in)

This didn't come about just because I had computer parts left. This came about because of my obsession with cave drawings, petroglyphs, and the human need to communicate through a variety of methods. I think that's ultimately why I thought to arrange the computer bits into a shape of glyph.
To make the glyphs, I used a cake-decorating tool. This was the first time for that experiment. I put the gel medium/lightweight vinyl spackling mix in the decorating tool and squeezed and guided it onto the canvas. Fun. It wasn't an even and completely predictable process, which, as always, is a good thing. That made the glyphs more interesting--starting in one direction and ending up somewhere else entirely. Let it go.
I first went over the marks with micaceous oxide. Then I floated in a wash of titan buff mixed with azo gold/quinacridone nickel. Then I went over the marks with the azo gold/quinacridone nickel. Nice and rusty looking. 
I had spent hours in the studio and wasn't sure of my next step. So I stopped to photograph for a friend and reaching for my camera saw some gel medium layers that had dried in the container and I had peeled from the side. I draped them over the circuit board and memory sticks. I think that's where it goes. 
Once attached to the painting, it still won't be finished, but it will be a kismet step closer.

Pathscape (24 in x 12 in)

I had been looking at Asian Landscape Paintings when I came to the studio and started working this canvas. Lately, I seem to be in love with making paintings with fewer colors. This canvas is textured with the gel medium/lightweight vinyl spackling mixture I often use. Just used a spackling tool for application. Once dry, I added perfect grey and spritzed it with water. The red floated out of the grey. I applied a gold paste over the faux lettering in the lower left. I'm pretty sure that holds the key to an efficient use of the pathscape--although, the way seems pretty clear--just a bit ragged in places...Travel well