Archive for the 'Work in progress' Category

Ready set go

Last night I made the panel for the new painting. I’m still having problems, despite my new vise that holds things into correct alignment for drilling, in squaring the support for the board. I don’t know if it is a fault of my measuring – though I do measure several times – that the panel itself isn’t square, my cutting, or some other problem. If I could afford to buy pre made panels, or to pay someone more skilled and with better tools to make them, that would solve the difficulty, but it irks me that I can’t seem to do better this simple carpentry task.

I’m at that point now where I have to just plunge in. I’ve collected images and made a collage, disregarding all of the lack of coherence as to size and position as the images relate to one another. In my head, there is the strong suggestion of how to proceed and it doesn’t involve waiting any longer. As soon as the gesso dries on the panel, I’m going to begin. Because I am trying to do something I’ve never done (and, really, when is that not the case), I expect it to be very difficult to begin, to continue, and to resolve. But the muse, if that’s what is driving me, is yelling in my ears, so much so that it’s hard to think of anything else. It’s like an earworm of music, a snippet of melody and lyrics, that won’t go away. And yes, I have that too!

Channeling Eric Fischl

I have been trying to piece an image together from photos on the internet of 1950s furniture, clothing, and young girls in a seated pose. As I have no photographs of myself after the age of 9, much less any of the places I’ve lived, I have to find other ways of creating the images. Because the piece I am thinking through is fraught with emotional baggage, I don’t want to use children I know as models. But as I have been thinking about it some more, the idea of the image is gradually changing and possibly starting to take shape so that I’m starting to believe I can capture the emotional load of the original experience. I am less self-critical of my recent work in the Fairy Tale Series than I was feeling on Wednesday, which makes me feel better, not to mention more competent. But I’m still channeling Eric Fischl and trying to secure the confidence to work more transparently, and I’m still wishing for white walls and more space to work larger!

Working on new series

What began as the Fairy Tale Series earlier this year is occupying my mind. With the upcoming show at Banfill-Locke in March (March 7-April 10), I have a lot of work to finish.

I feel a bit uncertain about showing work that is so different from what I have been doing for the last 20 plus years. Though my nature-driven work has always been about a few other things besides nature (as some viewers and collectors have noticed), this is still a major step in a different, more obviously autobiographical, direction.

Each of the fairy tales I’ve worked with so far plunges me into contemplation of my own history, both as a child and as an adult. They are all stories of survival against monumental odds, but I also find myself wondering what kind of survival? Does the young woman whose drunken father brags to a greedy king that his daughter can spin straw into gold have much of a future, even after Rumplestiltskin “rescues” her from the king’s promise of certain death if she cannot do this truly impossible task? What if, at some later date and after the goblin has been dispatched and the child she bore the king is saved, the king’s coffers run out? Thinking about this possibility makes me think about my own struggles, and those of my sister, to survive our childhood. The piece I am working on right now, “Straw into Gold,” is based on this tale.

The second piece I worked on tonight is “The Frog King.” The story, which is one of manipulation, lies, and betrayal, features a princess at its center, though mostly as a pawn, which is pretty typical of fairy tales. I keep writing about it, trying to figure out exactly why I am certain I need to work with it and what kinds of imagery will convey my sense of what the story means. It’s a struggle!

The painting above is one I finished a few months ago, the second of those I began. It is based on a dream I had about events in my life, and my reading of the story “The Armless Maiden.”

Play date today

Maybe all I really need is someone I like coming over to work with me in my studio for a couple of hours. Bouncing ideas off each other, listening to music, painting, cutting things up and pasting them down with acrylic medium, talking about our lives, taking a break for lunch and going back to work.

Susan F. came over today and we did just that, holding up our work for one another occasionally for comment or praise, while Sammy followed us around begging for attention (or food – bad dog!).

Even Sammy had a good day. He got to go to the dog park and run, sniff, slobber and be slobbered on. We both came home tired and happy. I’ll try to get some photos up soon of what turned out to be a very productive day in the studio.

Moving along

With another two hours work, I finished carving the bird wing stamp on Wednesday. I like the look of it and the amount of detail I was able to retain from the original line drawing.

I needed a couple of days after that to rest my neck and arms, but yesterday I proofed the stamp and then went right away into using it. Here’s the stamp rolled up with acrylic paint:

And here’s the first printing of it, along with the robin’s nest stamp I had previously carved.

I never know where these beginnings will end up, especially when I am using new images. I do expect that the wing and the nest will be gradually covered, then revealed again throughout the painting process. The next stage:

This shows the addition of a texture material inserted between the wing and nest, three eggs in the nest, and the skeletons of trees. Today, I’ll keep adding things to the mix, covering things up, and playing with color.

Hardly working

I’ve found it difficult to make it into my studio during the past week. The stamp remains half cut, the textile piece waits for a decision: should those shiny charcoal beads stay or should I take them all away? My Foot in the Door piece sits on the work table mutely demanding that I adjust the colors just a bit more and do something about the parts I managed to hide during the exhibit, as well as fix the dings that have mysteriously appeared on the corners. But the sun is shining, a warm breeze is blowing, my house is dirty, and my dog wants a walk. Nevertheless, I’m having a hard time sleeping because the art muse is getting cranky. I’ve been having intense dreams over the last two days that remind me there is something I’m supposed to be doing. I’m heading up now!

Sparrow’s wing

Thinking about what I can productively do while my monotype students are working the press and don’t need me, I used my newly acquired understanding of my digital camera to take photographs of material I’ve collected over the years. One of the things I have is a sparrow’s wing that my daughter’s cat left behind in their yard (clearly, after consuming the rest of the bird). Here’s the corrected photo: Then I flattened it and ran it through a couple of filters to reduce it to a line drawing that I could make a stamp from. Have I mentioned I LOVE Photoshop? Here’s the result:

Next I traced the Photoshopped image with #2 pencil (which took all day and part of the next), inverted it onto a stamp block and transferred the drawing with a burnisher. I’m now in the process of cutting this stamp block, which is going well but will take me quite a lot of time!

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