Friday, November 30, 2012

Docent or Enabler on the Trail of Art

Story lines in my paintings are different from story lines in books, because the viewer is in more control of the dialogue between the images and his/her own life experience. This painting incorporates symbols from many different sources: literature, news media, gift cards, world travels, art theory, history, and more.

I have met many people who have found themselves in this painting. What does the red mean to you? What of the circles and teddy bear? The pink animals and the hidden shadows? Is there any sense of discovery for you when you recognize a shape is turning into a symbol that might have personal meaning for you? If you are an artist, of any sort, how involved is the audience in defining the meaning within your art?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Energetic Juice of Art

Creating art is not dissimilar to back packing in the wilderness.

One goes to the location, finds the trail head, starts up the trail, exerts a lot of energy, rethinks a trajectory or two, and discovers many amazing (or disturbing) things about oneself and about the world around them. A more experienced hiker might add the spice of history, philosophy, biology, and even spirituality to the journey.

Thusly thought, art making can be considered cleansing, invigorating ... and perhaps quite foolish, depending on the weather.

In other words. Life at its best!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sketching a Feeling

She's now 22 years of age, and lives across the nation from me, but my arms still remember embracing the totality of her being. Lucky am I to have this sketch. Luckier am I that she responds to my physical touch still. Luckiest am I that she has the kind of mind that can read my art well.

Resonating connection between humans is not to be taken for granted, ever, regardless of whether one is blood relation or not. Some of my best embraces have been with fleet footed escape artists.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Audience Participation

Yesterday I met with two women. The first looked at the lines in my face and wanted to talk about my ills and pains. The second looked at the same lines and wanted to talk about the healthy wisdom behind my expressions.  It's time to pull out Ballerina Girl, the heroine of my life. She can perform the same dance with exquisite grace night after night, but it will never be the same ~ the audience is just as much a part of the dance as she is, influencing the air with unique stories of youth and age.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vortex or Helix?

Make this tiny painting more interesting by clicking on it and stretching the enlargement the width of your screen. Inspired in part by memories of walking in the underbrush near the bridge at Little Sur River (Big Sur) when I was a kid. Later, when I was a teenager, this area was bulldozed to thwart hippy encampments. I rode the school bus past twice a day, mourning the loss of such richness. The scar lasted for years but thankfully the brush-trees have grown back. No trespassing allowed, though, so I had to paint it to live it again.

Changing Perspective

I mentioned before that I painted this work while almost on remote control due to distracted concentration. This means I keep finding things out about it now that I wasn't aware of when in my creative mode. Today I finally figured out what that rock-like shape in the center of the painting might be.

One of the best aspects of somewhat abstract drawing is the viewer's imagination can use the images like maps of personal discovery.

The above painting emerged from somewhere thoughtful, regardless of the bogus clarity of my mind while painting it. I've always admired the following artist, and I am deducing that my life has finally given me enough experiential information/maturing to travel closer to a Bosch understanding.

Hieronymous Bosch was a master at making the viewer squirm by creating frightening organic forms out of abstracted shapes. I am not that bold, but I see successful attempts by young artists all across the internet these days. The image below makes one wonder how close the Bosch past and the freakish present really are.

Hieronymous Bosch "The Garden of Earthly Delights" (Detail)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

So Bright it Has to Be Black and White

Long ago I tried to paint a portrait of this woman but her colorful eyes glowed so brightly I knew I'd never be satisfied with any type of capture I achieved.

I compromised by cutting away all the color... making this a black and white image.

Years later, by complete coincidence my husband and I rent from this woman's brother. He has a smile that when fully charged beams with similar beauty. Last year I drew a cartoon of it, along with the long-tounged grin of his dog, Lucky, and sent the drawing to a friend who had cancer. The imp in me is sure those grins were a big part of her healing.

(Click on image to see my attempt at Lena's eyes.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soft and Hard

Red Rose Green Girl

Here is a quick sketch from just 
before I began painting circular abstract art.
World concern plays with personal insight.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creative Growth

Forest Dream (Private Collection)

No matter how young or old we are/become,
balance comes when we take a break from it all.

I have been listening to cherry bombs exploding in the night,
watching storm petrals fly ominously close to the water.

One can dip the brush in black paint or red.
One can dip the brush in green.
One can hibernate and hope the dreams are full spectrum.

It is easy to be too small or too big,
It is far more difficult to be comfortable
in the company of shrinkage and bigness in others.
How to paint this?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lessons Larger than a Sandcastle

I know someone who spent much of his senior high school year at the beach, skipping morning classes that bored him. He'd build up sand castle kingdoms and watch the water destroy them, over and over and over. Most parents and administrators these days would cringe at such delinquency, forgetting to look at the motivations and lessons being learned.

The creative spirit in this boy is what has balanced the man he became... into decades of success in our sterile and often cold business world.

Happy Birthday to the Sandcastle Builder

What a circus this world is! 
Note to self: support the humor inside a true friend.

(click on image)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pleasure Traveling Through Creativity

"Vista III (Blue Mist)" Private Collection

One of the delights of painting abstract landscapes is in the travel. 

When I painted the shapes into this painting I physically sat in my studio at my easel, creating without a pre-plan other than artful discovery. In my mind, and as I worked, I was soon under that sky, scanning that vista, feeling the wind, searching for soaring birds, wondering if I would see a rodent under the brush I'd just discovered. I puzzled about whether the climate unfolding before me was bitterly cold and perhaps too dry for life all year around, or was this merely a winter's seasonal scene.

I am told* human brains create pleasure chemicals when we do the following activities:

Play, Care, Search

Creating art can secrete all three. Healthy PCS (picks).

*Info provided by Carol S.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Final View

I was asked if my art was self expression. She assumed I would paint in dark colors if I was in a dark mood, or in light colors if I was in a light mood.

Since I am in a mood to explain...

Above is a portrait of the dying months of an elderly woman, as I perceived she was experiencing the world through hearing/seeing the thoughts and emotions she expressed to me. I lived with this woman during her last 7 months, not so much as her health provider ~ more as the resident comic relief.

Oxygen was not entering her brain fully during these months so her thoughts often drifted into dementia. She came up with the most astonishingly surrealistic verbal imagery during these times. At other times she was completely lucid and enjoyed a good reminisce or ponder of what the future might bring. She was a world traveler who adored history and would hold forth with great aesthetic movement of hand and turn of vocal phrase. The fact that she was the daughter of European peasantry and was raised in the wealthiest town in America colored her points of view. She had embraced both life and death in her professional career. She helped hundreds of people become their better selves.

I painted this portrait immediately after she died. Yes, there is my own expressive self in the piece. The colors are my own choice (the colors of her bedroom walls and garden outside), as are the specific images (symbols, really). But this is a portrait of what I had seen happen in someone else's life. In other words, if I had painted a lemon that I set on a table next to my canvas, and the painted image looked like a lemon to you, you'd think lemon. You wouldn't ask me if I was being self expressive. Likewise, if you had been in the house with me as I lived with this dying woman for 7 months, you might look at this painting and think: dying woman. Our society recognizes that portraits can be of what we see on the outside. Less obvious are the many portraits out there which are about what it is to think/feel on the inside.

As soon as this piece was publicly exhibited it was snapped up by a collector who recognized the nature of the portrait .

If you click on the image you might be able to see the tiniest vignettes within the larger picture. This is a woman going over all of her memories, rereading a thousand books, questioning too many of her own assumptions, and letting go of a hundred dreams. Her final view.