Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Fantasy" Based on Reality?


I am putting this image back up because I just had an "A-hah!" about how I created the movement of lines. This most recent of my oils was painted while I was battling a baffling combination of illnesses. Needless to say, my mind was not completely present to the needs of the painting. I was almost on automatic pilot, sorting out color puzzles and tonal questions, but not addressing content to any real depth. There's clearly a message here, but I was mostly just concerned about wanting the piece to emerge away from the raw sense of despair that it had had when I first began creating it. (That bottom area of the painting had originally been quite brutal!) When the painting claimed itself finished I stared at it as if it were a stranger, wired the back, and hung it on the wall in preparation for the next surge of visitors to the studio.

This work received a lot of attention from the incoming crowds. There was a lot of speculation about what was what, and parents enjoyed explaining to their children the images and stories they saw in the piece. The feel of inflowing lines intrigued a few and one person wondered where the idea to paint that movement came from. At the time I just shrugged, having no clear idea. This morning I found the answer.

Every morning for the past two years I've walked for about an hour, usually to the top of a steep hill. While I was ill I couldn't make it up to the crest, but today I managed the full hike again.

This walk is vigorous, and gets the blood surging. I'd been in a habit of reaching the top, stopping and turning my face immediately to the sun, and shutting my eyes. I had noticed that if I looked at what I saw inside my eyes at that moment (the expected red and yellow colors) I'd also see a lot of movement. I have no idea if its blood surging or eyes focusing or what, but it's fascinating to experience. The movement tends to start at the center of my vision arena and move with flowing motion towards the outer sides. There'd be a pause, and then the colored movement would immediately surge quickly back inward towards the center. Soon the movement would slow down and freeze into normal static color patterns. This approximately 8 second sensation is a bizarre thing to experience so I had my husband try it out to make sure it was a common biological phenomena. He made sure to climb the hill energetically before he stopped and, with his eyes closed, stared at the sun. He had the same experience as me.

After doing this hike and tiny meditation this morning for the first time in months I had my "A-hah!" I saw that there were also little spots of color and light that twinkled through the red and yellow as it moved, and here is where I recognized the basis for the imagery in the above painting.

Funny how one can create something and not really know the foundation until much later. If we keep looking at this world, we will see so much. What we learn bubbles up sooner or later, and sometimes it arrives without our being fully aware of where we'd originally taken the information in.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Variety in Work and in Audience

When one creates from a place of individual truth there is a chance that the product will reach a small audience, but not necessarily that of the broad populace.

Visitors to my studio often wonder if more than one artist has created the work on the walls, since my truths have traveled all over the spectrum ~ from representation to abstract, line to color, tiny to quite large, and from the dark side of life to the giddy silliness of life. I am always fascinated to see to which artistic representation of my truths each individual visitor will respond. The general rule is that the many visitors seem to gravitate to just as many different pieces. Below is a selection of the favorite pieces from a recent open studio. Each inspired dynamic conversations between myself and the viewer, or between the visiting couples/groups amongst themselves.

(All of the pieces now have new homes.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Grounded Inspiration From Within a Chaotic Piece

"Riding Chaos" clearly represents the craziness of the human experience, but is actually grounded in elemental nature. Prior to this work I had spent a lot of time looking underneath shrubbery, into grassy vegetation, through the branches of trees, and on up into the amazingly contrasting blue of the sky. I am fascinated by how organisms shift and bump up against one another, die off, and are reborn.

Originally there was little water in this piece, but bit by bit the blue dropped from the sky, transforming land into lake or sea. Water is a profound symbol of both biological life and powerful grounding (being that life does not exist without water and that condensed water always filters down to the lowest gravitational level.) Consciously or unconsciously knowing this, the viewer perceives the water and is soothed even while viewing the frenetic energy of this chaotic painting.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inspired by Mistakes

In my work of the past couple of years I have been studying the "fool" and the "Fool," agreeing with Shakespeare that the latter is an enlightened former.  Just now I've come upon a reference to this in "Being Wrong" by Kathryn Schulz. She describes how there is an optimistic model of wrongness whereby one who dives into a foolish endeavor (a mistake) might come out all the wiser in the end. In her words "...erring is vital to any process of invention and creation."

While Schulz is referring to mistakes/learning in every walk of life, I find this model of thinking points directly to the center of quality art. I have always been of the opinion that perfection must include a flaw in order for it to be believable. We flawed humans need to see this flaw of humanity in art if we are to relate with any sense of depth, and true perfection has immense depth.

Striving to create art forms depicting human perfection is a valiant ideal held by most artists. Only a lucky few are able to achieve this goal, and we viewers are lucky indeed to benefit from experiencing these master works of perception and execution. I see these master works in museums, occasionally in galleries and homes, and delightfully and surprisingly, in the instinctive work of very young children.

It takes a bold mind (or is it a fool's mind?) to break honored rules of conduct in order to open up inspiringly fresh and profound worlds of discovery. Many times I have advised myself and others: "use your mistakes ~ you might find yourself in a far more interesting world of thought." It's a messy existence, trusting mistakes to lead one out of the haze-maze towards a hopeful clarity, but oh so deliciously alive is the process.