Thursday, April 26, 2012

About Time

Been thinking about time a lot. This is an eventful year. My youngest moves from elementary to middle school. My oldest officially becomes a teenager, godhelpme. I’m going back to school to finally finish the art degree I started 30 years ago. My own sweet little mommy is inexorably slowing down like a dearly loved heirloom clock. My friend and neighbor has just begun her fight against breast cancer and my thoughts are very much with her and her husband and young son. I turn 50 this year and I can no longer pretend that I don’t notice the years slipping past me and the effect of that erosion on my body. Not that I’m going to give in to it, by any means. But I’m starting to admit to myself that it’s time I cultivated my personality more than my vanity, and that if I’m lucky, really, really lucky, I will be growing old. I feel time simultaneously pressing in on and slipping away from me.

This painting has many layers, starting with some journaling pages that I tore and used as a collage background. I subscribe to the somewhat kooky conviction that I’m merely the facilitator of my paintings and they kind of tell me what they want to be as we’re working together. At one point, the painting wanted a forest fire in it, but I decided that would complicate matters too much. We compromised with some modeling paste and some impressions of gears which then found their way into the collage. We finally settled on the title, “About Time.”    And it is.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Artists' Journals

Artists’ Journals. It’s a concept that confused me at first. I mean … I barely have enough time to work on the projects I’ve started (or want to start), why would I add another to-do to the list? Why not just sketch in a sketchbook and write in a notebook? It didn’t make sense to me.

But … they were so pretty, the examples I saw. And so, mysterious, somehow. Like they were special books of poetry or arcane spells. So I tried it.

I had already started a garden journal after finding a watercolor field notebook on deep discount. I’d been planning to paint more from life, especially plein air, and had been neglecting all media except acrylic. So … a watercolor garden journal.  One night, while trying to make a color chart of my portable watercolor palette, my youngest was driving me nuts wanting whatever materials I touched. I vented my frustration on one of the plain paper pages. The jump to artist’s journal was not too far.

So the gist of an artist’s journal, as I understand it, is that you basically illustrate your topic. Or decorate your writing pages. Or collage your subject. Or something, anything, whatever you want. Actually, this kind of exercise is a good one for someone like me who tends to take it All Too Seriously. It encourages play. Something I could use more of.  It gives me the opportunity to try out ideas in a small format and provides a serendipitous prompt for new ideas. In the past two days, I’ve sketched out background pages of a celtic knot garden and what can only be described as “Mondrian meets Monet.” Two ideas that were nowhere on my radar before this experiment.

In short, it’s kinda fun. I think I will look for more opportunities to journal. And rather than keeping me from my ongoing “real” projects, I find I’m thinking about them even more and making even more time to work on them. Who knew?

(A quick Google search turned up lots of information on Artists’ Journals, but this site is one I found helpful.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Perfect Day

I like to imagine myself more organized and disciplined than I am. Maybe it’s a form of visualization or self-talk, but I like to construct the outline of a perfect day in my head and imagine myself moving through it. So far there have been absolutely no real time manifestations of these “perfect” days, but I’m still hoping. And dreaming.

The perfect art day would start with me bounding out of bed, resentment-free, at 5am to workout, preferably triathlon training. Back home to shower and get the family off to work and school, throw something in the crock-pot for dinner, and head out to the garden with mug of something hot and caffeinated.

Once there, I would putter with the plants and bird feeders, sketch and journal, maybe write a blog post. When my cup became empty and cold, I would head inside to the studio to limber up with some gesture and contour drawings, moving on from there to negative space and symmetry exercises, because symmetry is my biggest weak spot. Then I would spend a couple of hours working through whatever self-guided study tome was currently enthralling me.

By then I would be hungry and ready to  grab a bite of lunch and work on current projects or run errands to get out of the house. Or meet a friend for lunch and check out a gallery or two. If I’m imagining this day as part of my current season of life, I have to run home to meet/pick up kids from school and start the evening routine. If I’m imagining the life of an empty-nester, I teach classes or private lessons in the evening.

Dinner and a glass of wine with my husband, and it’s back to the studio to work on current projects until I’m ready to climb in bed with a good book until lights out.

Yeah, it’s a nice fantasy. Funny how on my one day off, I end up napping most of the day. Just thinking about being that productive makes me tired!