Artists are often advised to present a consistent body of work to the public, for very good reason. If you’ve developed a following, you owe it to your “fans” to give them what they expect. But as an artist, this is easier to say than to do. Creative people naturally want and need to experiment with various art forms, different media, interesting techniques. Even if you absolutely love abstractions, as I do, there’s nothing to stop you from also loving detailed landscapes and intricate still lifes.
When I exhibit, I make sure to maintain consistency. But in my own studio, anything goes. Here are two of my latest efforts, one completely abstract, with lots of texture and one in which I tried to capture the misty chill of a Scottish Highland stream.
Maybe you’ve noticed–I love color. I love how different colors play off each other, sometimes soft and soothing (analogous colors), sometimes bright and jarring (complimentary colors). I often combine my colors with various mediums to create texture on the canvas, too. But for “Sculpture in Gray,” I decided to try something different. To begin, I just glopped on a pile of black and white paint loosely mixed with fiber paste and started spreading it around with a large palette knife. The painting sort of took off on its own from there. I glopped on more paint, dribbled on some silver, sprinkled a little glitter and–voila!
At first glance, you might think it’s just a gray painting, but as you look at it, you notice the swirls and layers, the shadows and lights, and you begin to lose yourself in the richness of the painting. I’ve been studying it in my studio for about a month now, wondering if I need to add any of my signature colors or maybe some defined shapes. But I’ve decided I love it just the way it is. Minimalism has certainly been around since at least mid-twentieth century, but now I find myself appreciating it much more deeply than I ever have before.
Sometimes people ask me how I come up with my titles. Well, I enjoy naming my pieces almost as much as I do creating them in the first place. I try to invent names that give the viewer a hint of what I was thinking while I was painting, but at the same time, something that leaves a bit of mystery, a little question in their minds. I’m calling this piece Gothic Bazaar. Why? Well, the pointed arch is a bit of Gothic architecture, isn’t it? And the colors remind me of the time I visited the bazaar in Istanbul, full of golds and secret passageways and hidden corners. Touristy? Sure, but all the same exotic and fun. Everything about this–the design, the colors, and yes – even the title, says Whimsy. A bit of whimsy to brighten up a cold winter day.
In my previous post, I wrote about using a 12 x 12 format to express a single idea, but sometimes, I need a bigger canvas to capture the moment. A River Runs Through It reminds me of the colorful river towns perched on the hilltops in Spain. The water rushing down the mountains, the clean, fresh air! Aah–how delightful.
I love working in a small, 12 x 12 format. It forces me to really think about what I want my painting to say, because the small space doesn’t lend itself to a lot of miscellaneous flourishes. Here are a few pieces I’ve done in the past few months. By the way, Facebook has somehow removed my page (and no–I haven’t been posting anything horrible!), and I’ve decided to just let it go, so if you have a comment, please post it here on WordPress, or just contact me directly. The pieces here are all 12 x 12, Acrylic and mixed media, framed and ready for display.
I bought this Turkish coffee pot in Istanbul years ago, in a little bazaar filled with rugs and leather jackets and the aroma of exotic spices. Today seemed like a good day to put it into a painting, using autumn tones but hopeful little flowers to help us get through the winter that’s almost upon us. When Spring comes again, we can hope that most of us will have been vaccinated, and we can begin to emerge into the light again.
I just saw a fascinating documentary, “Tim’s Vermeer,” produced by Penn & Teller. It’s the story of Tim, who theorizes that Vermeer used a camera obscura to create his amazingly realistic paintings. This theory is well known, but there are problems with it. Tim set out to overcome the problems. He made and modified a camera obscura, and actually built the entire scene of “The Music Lesson.” He then painted the scene, using his invention. He proved that Vermeer could have similarly used his own camera obscura to achieve the great level of detail in his paintings. At the end of about 130 days, Tim had recreated an exact replica of Vermeer’s painting.
Yet something was still missing from the painting. It lacked the magic that Vermeer brought to his work. Why is that?
An artist must master her craft, surely. More than that, though, the artist uses composition, the effects of light and color, the choice of subject matter, to elevate the craftman-like work to the level of art. It’s seeing ordinary things in a different way. Maybe it’s a sort of magic, after all.