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

If Kandinsky had had a Computer (each of the three pieces, made of four stapled on the back, 12 in x 8 in)

Two years ago, I moved to a very small apartment. I no longer had room for items such as an obsolete snowball iMac. So I called the local store: how much to destroy my hard drive and recycle the thing? $90! Oh no. Not I. After being counseled by Gregg Coad, IT extraordinaire, I purchased a tool kit for deconstructing the computer for $20. See how that works? I'm $70 ahead. And I started taking the thing apart. 
Once inside, I saw potential. The screws were so many sizes, the circuit boards were aerial views of cityscapes, there were knobs and magnets, a prism, cd turner knobby thing, copper tape, and things I had no idea about. This ignorance led to only one scary moment when I had to come home and google a warning phrase to see if I was doomed for delving into parts unknown. (I wasn't.) Then Gregg gave me a few items that he had culled from computers he'd had to deconstruct. I started arranging parts on each cluster of canvas. And got a back and neck ache gluing the parts into place. 
At some point in this process, probably before the trip to the chiropractor, I lost my way. What was I doing? How is this art? How is this an expression of my truth? Suddenly, this activity seemed meaningless. So I did what I often do when feeling this way, I started looking at the images in my Kandinsky book. I realized that these shapes had a lot in common with some of the intriguing shapes that Kandinsky had made in his abstract paintings. I had it. The title for the series: If Kandinsky had had a Computer. He'd have taken it apart an used it...maybe...maybe his arrangement would have been more spontaneous than mine. But once I had the title, I could move forward. And truthfully, this is a part of my truth. I look at things and ask, what else is it, how does it relate to the other else thing I'm looking at. How is it part of a different whole. 

When Mark and Helmi Came to Visit (12 in x 36 in)

Part I: I have loved Mark Tobey's white writing since I first saw a photograph of one if his paintings with this element. Before my friend, Margo, moved from Seattle, we went to SAM to see an exhibit of the Northwest Mystical Artists. I studied and studied his work, but left, appropriately, mystified. I so wanted to be able to create using white writing.
Part II: Last summer, when my friends Mary Jane and Grace came to visit, we went to an exhibit at the Lightcatcher of Helmi Juvonan's work. She had been completely in love with Mark Tobey, who she knew, to the point of creating a story about that love. She, too used a white mark-making technique in compositions surrounding in dark. I was still mystified as to technique.
Part III: Answer the question: which comes first, the dark or the light? How does the artist maintain the white marks while moving in the darkness? I did the only thing that, at the time, I could think to do--I called in Mark and Helmi. Then I started playing with a technique I remember that I knew how to do--I could make the light marks rise above the dark. So a used a thick coat of gesso, mixed in the teeniest bit of perfect grey to grey the gesso down a bit. Then I used stamping tools. I had recently acquired the cover to a fax machine and loved the shapes it made. I used the spiral and serpentine arm band Christina had given me, and parts of parts to other equipment that had come my way. The greyed-gesso moved up to fill in the spaces the stamping action made. When it dried, I floated in dark grey. a little violet, a little blue green. I did a little sand-paper scratching and then patina-ed it with azo gold quinacridone nickel. I look forward to many more visits from Mark and Helmi.

Garden Mythologies (each 8 in x 8 in)

This was me playing with a heavy layer of gesso, mark-making tools, and a sanding to bring the light back in and for texturing. It was great fun to discover the effects that sanding the painted surface had on the painting--particularly for restoring the light around the edges--that area that threatened to get too dark for meaning-making. Always the challenge for me when working in a series of three is what color to have predominant and complimentary. I have quit being so thoughtful about it when I begin and have just started diving in and seeing what emerges. Both methods have their issues. So, of course, do I.

To Those Who Enter In (24 in x 12 in)

So when you love the print made by an old license plate with fiber paste on the raised parts for emphasis, you just gotta go for it. It's especially loved because it turned into a doorway. A doorway depicted in shades of grey. Because, yes doorways hold a certain mystery and promise with a little bit of anxiety--not enough to paralyze the spirit, just enough to know we've acknowledged crossing the threshold from what we know into what we don't know. Because of this, I honor those who have entered in...