cleaning the studio......and other adventures in art
I have many thoughts about my current series of large-scale paintings, but I’m going to limit this post to the topic of mark-making as it relates to scale.
I started thinking about this perhaps a year ago, while I was working with small encaustics but considering doing some large-scale paintings. I liked the broad swath of brushstroke I was getting using a large-ish brush on very small panels, like this 6″x6″ piece to the right. I wanted to preserve that mark as I moved to 6‘x9’ canvases.
I knew that on a large canvas this would require a BIG brush, so I picked up a paint roller instead. The humor in this doesn’t escape me… I do not enjoy house painting, yet here I was, using paint rollers on (a canvas stapled to) the wall. It felt familiar, though misplaced.
Once I started, though, there was no question I’d made the right decision. It worked, I liked both the process and the results, and I had other questions to ponder anyway, like where the series was going.
But the proportional scale of those roller strokes makes for an interesting photography conundrum: it’s almost impossible to infer the size of the painting from a cropped photo. Are they 16”x20” or are they 72”x108″? Size matters!
Here is the latest painting, in a conventionally-cropped photo. Compare it to the photo at the beginning of this post, where you can clearly deduce the size of the painting.
If I wait to photograph until I install grommets for hanging, the viewer will have a size reference, sort of. People know what size grommets are, but, then again, there are small grommets and there are large ones! For the record, these are similar to the grommets you might find on a store-bought tarp.
I love to photograph my photographer, r.r. jones, at work. He came to my studio last week to shoot a few new large paintings, and at the same time my neighbor Jamie Abbott borrowed my wall to photograph one of his sculptures.
Here are Ron and Jamie with Jamie’s sculpture on the wall:
And here’s one of the new photos he shot for me:
I’ve previously photographed this painting but I’ve added the grommets since that time. This piece is on unstretched canvas and is nailed to the wall through the grommets. I don’t want to stretch these pieces because, even though they are primarily done with paint, I think of them equally as drawings. So they stay flat against the wall, like a drawing pinned in place.
Here’s what I’m up to in the studio right now: big paintings, more of which can be seen here.
This new one, still in progress, is acrylic and chalk on unstretched canvas, and is approximately 9’x6′. The ladder in the photo shows the scale, which is important to the piece. I’m thinking about the inward-turned figure in contrast to larger-than-life scale.
We’re very excited to be showing two of our collaborative drawings at an upcoming show at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at the University of California, Santa Cruz. You can see one of them on their website: just click on the screenshot below… (and then come to the show!)
The Drawing Salon
January 20th – March 10th, 2013
Reception: Sunday, February 10th, 3-5PM
Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery
Cowell College, UCSC
Here’s our statement for the show:
In addition to the work we do individually, we have been working collaboratively for some years now. In the beginning, we worked alternately on pieces, as many collaborators do, but now we work on the same piece together, at the same time, side by side.
There are no rules: decisions or marks made by one person may be—and often are—immediately altered or erased by the other. In a fluid and dynamic process, we change sides, step back to look, call to each other to correct an area whose fault can only be seen from a distance, try to protect a favorite line or tonal area and then most likely let it go.
Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we struggle. We may pursue dissimilar directions, wrestle with each other through the charcoal, chalk and paint. Working together may trigger a conflict of interest—drawing is, after all, a very personal endeavor.
But in spite of or because of the intensity we share, a drawing comes together from our combined work at the easel. And the endpoint of the drawing, while often surprising, is almost always mutually understood. Our most successful drawings blend our two visions seamlessly, and though we may recognize a mark or a passage that belongs to one or the other, the overall piece is something neither of us would have arrived at on our own.
By working together and embracing the unpredictable outcomes, the possibilities of making an image are somehow multiplied by more than a factor of two. The collaborative process opens new vistas and directions that each of us can take to our own work, and the work we do together stands on its own accord. — Claire Thorson and Barbara Downs
I’ve grown rather fond of this suite of ten small encaustic pieces that I’ve just completed. Each is 6″x6″, encaustic on panel. I delivered them today to this show:
Sleight of Hand
Pajaro Valley Arts Council Gallery
January 16 – February 17, 2013
Reception: January 20, 2-4pm
More images from my encaustic series about children. I explained what I’m doing in my last post, “in memory”. To recap, I am thinking both of children’s fragility and resilience, their resolve and vulnerability. I think of the piece on the left as “children emerging from the thicket of childhood”.
In the wake of the Newtown school shootings last Friday, I was at a loss for ideas as I walked into my studio Monday morning. I have a child, and the sheer horror of what happened is unfathomable, unbearable, unimaginable.
I’ve long considered using children as a subject matter, and this feels like an appropriate moment. In these pieces, I am considering children’s utter fragility, their strength and inner resolve, their vulnerability.
These pieces are destined for an upcoming invitational show of small-format pieces at Pajaro Valley Arts Council Gallery, to be on exhibit in January and February. They are all encaustic on wood panel, 6″x6″. These are two of the first few, with more to come.
This photo of my studio floor caught my eye because of the geometry of the composition and the colors. This is part of the limited palette I’m using in my newest paintings, which can be seen on my website, here.
This askew composition appeals to me; it’s the sort of thing that I’d like to work with in painting or drawing form, so I started doodling (in Photoshop, for the purposes of this blog post).
I think the end result leaves open the possibility of a larger piece based on this photo. It’s a step away from the figurative work I’ve been doing lately, but we’ll see, we’ll see…
A new painting. What’s it doing on the floor? I prefer to work this way, but I do most of the painting on the wall so that I can properly see it. Working flat on the floor makes it difficult to see the entire painting without distortion! Once I know I have the basic information down, I can take it off the wall and work like this.
You can see a more conventional photo of it (yes, hanging on the wall) here.
I live and work in Santa Cruz, California, on the northern tip of the Monterey Bay, and over the summer I was invited to participate in an upcoming show about the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Thinking back to a previous heron piece I had done, I focused on our wetlands and the wide variety of wildlife found there, including herons, egrets and raptors. Researching great blue herons (Ardea herodias), I settled in on a single element of their elaborate courtship display wherein they extend their neck so high that the bird would seem to be in danger of falling over backwards.
Herons and egrets appeal to me mainly for their unlikely form… football-shaped body atop stilt legs, their neck often coiled into an s-shape. They hold stock-still while hunting and jab their long, pointed beak out at lightning-speed to catch their prey. They look as though they could not fly (and yet they do!). I’ve seen one flying low in the trees near my house, always on the periphery of my vision (“what is that thing!?!”), and by the time I can properly focus on it it’s already gone. Strange to see such a large bird in flight. I was intrigued with the idea that I can see them for only a split second, as they fly overhead or as I drive past the slough, a mirage or vision of some sort.
This large encaustic painting is one of my two pieces in the show that came out of that inspiration. The show, Monterey Bay: Land, Air & Sea, is now hanging at the Pajaro Valley Arts Council Gallery in Watsonville, California.