Last night Andrew and I attended the opening of this year’s Sidney Fine Arts Show. We saw plenty of lovely work and a few really inspiring pieces (Debra Tilby). The show allowed me the opportunity to see my own work in the context of my peer’s work and… I wasn’t happy.
My pieces were okay. Not great. Not terrible. Just okay. And that is not okay with me!
So this afternoon I decided to do something about it. I went back to my roots. Back to what has always inspired me and fed my desire to make love… er… I mean art. And there you have it! That freudian slip of Love vs. Art tells me everything I need to know about where I want to go with my art and my life. I want to make love! I mean art! In my life there have been moments where I grew as a person and as an artist and in my mind they tie back to drawing. I LOVE drawing. I love the memories I have of being in drawing classes and drawing in the studio. I have fallen in love in drawing class. More than a few times!
I love everything about drawing. The immediacy. The messiness and the ability to control or let go of control with drawing. The ability to put down drawing tools and walk away without having to clean up a mess. The smoothness of the paper and the chamois. The stickiness of the eraser and the silkiness of pulling a line of light away from the dark and the lines that feel just right at the right moment. I love drawing.
I remember a moment in one particular drawing class where I let go of the charcoal but continued the line in the air and then slid it back down to complete the line on the paper at the end of what was the culmination of the voluptuous arm of the model. And I remember love blooming when that mark was recognized as beautiful by someone I admired. Love in and through art.
And so today, I returned to my roots and my love and I drew.
My husband, Andrew Bartley, sent me a link the other day to a short video about the life and work of Jennifer Worsley. When I viewed the video I will admit to already being in a really good mood… so this video was hugely inspiring for me! Andrew and I purchased one of Jennifer’s woodblock prints a couple years ago from the Davidson Gallery in Seattle. It is on the wall in our bedroom so I see it several times a day and it has become a part of my psyche. Up until Trump came into office and the Canadian dollar sank so low, we took an annual trip to Seattle as a nice little break for normal life and a chance to check out galleries and markets in Seattle. It was Andrew’s annual birthday gift, which also included the purchase of a reasonably priced artist’s print. We have a lovely little artist print collection now but I don’t see it expanding until the political and financial situation in the USA settles down a bit.
But I am getting off topic. The video about Jennifer and her work has inspired me to start documenting Andrew and my own adventures in plein air and studio art making. We have some camping/painting trips planned this summer and I need to remember to take my documentary hat along with me! It is our goal to come back from those trips with plenty of very small studies for much larger studio landscape paintings to be done over the winter months. And then we want to have a 2 person gallery show. We’ve both been in the same group exhibits and I’ve had 2 person shows before but we’ve never shown together. So the video will be a way to capture the steps towards our goal as both a promotional piece and a way to remember our adventures. Life feels like it is getting shorter now that I am over the hill and on the way into retirement. I don’t want to wait until retirement to have all the fun! You never know what will happen between then and now so let’s do it and document it! Now!
One of my major challenges as an artist is the ability to create intentional art. What I mean by that is for example, the monotone painting I created this past weekend (below) was the result of the desire to do something different -a challenge of sorts. I painted this one and was very happy with it so I attempted to do another without success. And then I tried another and another and… another with no success.
I often find this happens; when I try something new, I am happy with the first piece and it goes downhill from there. Therefore my pieces tend to be one-offs – individual works not related to another other than being a landscape or a portrait or… etc. (There is a current exception right now with the nest series.) I would like to change this. I would like to know what I want to achieve and be able to achieve it.
Well, I say that… and yet I also love these surprise successes because they push me in new directions (the monoprint challenge is a good example). I am capable of improving, I just jump around a lot. And I feel like I have an excess of work which ends up on the trash can though Andrew tells me I’m likely not alone.
If I were capable of creating a success every time – would I get bored with making art? Or is that mindset stopping me from achieving that goal?
What I know right now is that I really, really want to make more successful monotone portraits.
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