Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Time for Plan B


This was not a week when painting was going to happen.  Between listening to yet another week of horrifying news and going through some struggles with my son, I was left without much creative energy.  I need to have full presence before I can tackle painting.  And a good dose of self-confidence to get me through all the painting days when nothing seems to come together and I start wondering if it ever will. I had neither this week.  Thankfully I had my plan B.  Fabric scraps!  They seem to always do the job.

A few years ago I made a ton of fabric prayer flags in all sorts of colors. I made a bright, cheery one for my niece, and she now asked me to make her a new one in all black and white for her dorm.  She's a senior this year, but already decorating her dorm room.  The chances of her still wanting black and white a year from now are slim, but I was happy for the project.

I was a little concerned that 1. black and white would be boring and 2. I wouldn't have enough interesting black and white scraps to make it work.  HA!  How could I have doubted my scrap pile or my love of black and white.  It's a very different look from the colorful ones I made before, but I love the emphasis on texture and pattern in this one.

You can see some of the colorful ones here and here.











Friday, August 18, 2017

Shapes and Marks

Seldom do I focus on shape.  I tend to build compositions around line and mark, but I do keep returning to a loose vessel shape.  Right now I'm working on a black and white series focused on vessels. Here is a vessel piece from a while ago, still untitled.


Untitled, 11x14", acrylic on paper
 And some close ups.  It was fun to still use plenty of marks, but to make them more subtle so they didn't dominate over shape.





Recently I went to Ritsuko Ozeki's artist talk at Froelick Gallery in Portland.  She is a printmaker who uses lots of line and mark but also incorporates shape.  She is from Tokyo and has been doing series based on the aftermath of the tsunami.  She talked about being interested in all the change that has occurred, and that now, along with the destruction, there is starting to be some rebuilding of communities.  The house shapes she uses point to both the chaos and the restructuring taking place.  She prints using 4 different plates and assembles the prints in various orientations into large pieces.  The overall affect is disorienting, with the occasional house surfacing here and there.  I found them powerful and haunting.

This is one of the blocks that she then combines with others.


I forgot how much I enjoy an artist talk.  It's so illuminating to find out the inspiration behind the pieces.  I was really happy to learn that Froelick posts videos of the talks on You Tube, so now I can catch up on some I've missed.  The filming isn't great, and sometimes I'm dying for a shot of the painting while the artist is talking about it, but they are still interesting to watch.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August Hodge Podge

August was a hodge podge month of weather ranging from sweltering temperatures over 100 to a nice chilly rain.  I noticed a hint of golden light in the air the last few mornings. I like transition times, and it feels like it's just starting to hint that fall is coming soon.

My August 2016 daily stitch project was a crazy hodge podge of colors and textures, but I think they will join together into a playful whole with lots of surprises.















Friday, August 11, 2017

Begin Again

After not being in the studio for over a month, it's hard to jump back in.  I wasn't in the middle of a series or any particular project, and to say to myself, "go paint" without any sort of direction makes me freeze even more.  I keep notebooks of ideas, pages and pages of them, and have Pinterest boards overflowing with inspiration.  I thought I would start by browsing those to see what ideas jumped out.  After going through my notebooks, I was so overwhelmed by ideas, that I decided to skip Pinterest altogether, and pick a few ideas that called me the loudest.

My reluctance to get to the studio usually stems from a lack of focus.  Either I have too many ideas and don't know what to work on, or I'm in the middle of a project but don't know what to do next.  It's so much easier for me to start painting if I know I'm heading to the studio to work with bold lines today, or use the color pink, rather than just show up and face the unknown.

Simple tasks also help me to get to the studio.  If my energy and confidence are low, I can at least sharpen pencils,  then usually once I'm in the studio one thing leads to another and I'm working.  I have a sort of 3 step hierarchy of projects, from easiest to hardest.  Here's what my list looks like right now:

Easy:
Sharpen pencils
Sharpen crayons with knife
Gesso paper
Pull fabrics for projects
Pull papers for collage
Do black and white mark making papers for collage
Improv stitching of scraps

Medium:
Work on black and white collage with stitching
Make black and white prayer flags
Do small painting exercises
Piece together improv bits into a whole

Challenging:
Paint large
Fit a shirt pattern

I do like a plan! Even though I seldom stick to it all the way. 

Right now I'm focusing on black and white.  I started a small 12" square series based on Vessels.  Here's the starting point as I roughly scribbled lots of different vessel shapes onto gessoed paper.  Whether any of these end up with a final vessel shape is yet to be seen, but there's the starting point.



And I started with lots of mark making on 3--22x30" sheets of heavy watercolor paper.  This stage is always so much fun.  I'm hoping to keep recording them daily to see how they develop.



 Shoot!  I just realized this is the same painting upside down after I added a tiny bit more!  Oh brother, well I'll post the third one next time.




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More Stitching Catch-Up

Still catching up on my stitching.  I just got out my July 2016 stitch project to join together and usually I'd have it all done by this point.  So here are some of the components before the layout begins.














 I love how the extra "O" formed from the raggedy threads on the top.  Soon to be lost when it's joined with another piece.


I enjoy doing these daily stitch projects so much that I have begun to ponder my 2018 project.  One reason it's on my mind is that as soon as I pull out the 2016 pieces, I realize how much more enjoyable that one was than my 2017 project.

A bit of my 2017 project
I think it's that I feel more constrained in the 2017 project.  I originally planned on it consisting only of marks and stitches, but I missed chunks of fabric too much, and it needed a little more solidity.  The 2016 let me mix up lots of bits of fabric and had a lot more room for compositional play.  No idea how all this will translate in 2018, but I'm hoping something pops up that incorporates my main loves of raggedy scraps, marks and stitches, simplicity of materials, and lots of room to play.  Any ideas are welcomed!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Stitching Catch-Up

I'm back from a wonderful trip to Stockholm and then cruising around the Baltic Sea area.  I was so hoping to share pictures, but after a week of trying to get photos from my iphone to a non-compatible computer, I give up.  I think I'm starting to see the real value of Instagram.  Maybe if my tech skills improve suddenly, I'll post bits of inspiration from the trip.

Now I'm back to daily stitching.  My July daily stitch is actually a cheater this month.  I had high hopes of stitching daily on my trip, but the reality was that after busy days, then planning out the itinerary for the next busy day, all I could do is drop into bed with a book.  Thanks to that and some long flights, I did read 2 very good books-- Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen, and The Girls by Emma Cline, and one great one--A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

So now I catch up on a month of daily stitching in one week.  I really don't like doing it that way.  When I'm doing a bit each day, I'm much more aware of the marks I see around me, but at least I caught up.

Here's July 2017 stitch project.  It doesn't look too different from June, but the colors have intensified.





Now I have some painting exercises I want to start.  It always takes me a while to get moving after a trip, so I'm doing it in baby steps.