Wednesday, August 11, 2010

new phase in the continuum

As I anticipated, I returned from the Longmont workshop to my studio and my former cold wax pieces with a new perspective. The approaches and techniques that we practiced in the workshop add new layers not just physically but also philosophically to the work I am doing. The pre-broken-wrist pieces from last June that remain in my studio are clearly barely begun, and while I knew they needed a few more layers even back then, it is obvious now that they aren't even started, in many ways. I have acquired, along with new techniques, a patience and an inquisitiveness that were nascent but undeveloped before the workshop. To be truly curious about how a given panel will evolve leads to an increased engagement with the process, and it becomes more of a give-and-take than a straightforward, linear path of object creation. And just as the plateau landscape in which I live took eons to evolve, the fully developed oil-and-cold-wax painting requires a slow approach, a long series of mindful applications of pigment and texture that cannot be rushed through if the final piece is to reach fulfillment.  I came home from the workshop with the group of pieces shown above, all more fully developed than the pieces I made for the gallery show, none ready to be considered finished.

At the same time, I am glad that I went through the process last spring of creating the pieces for the gallery show without the benefit of the workshop. For one thing, I got more out of the workshop with those pieces already under my belt, as it were. But also, through those early pieces I began to develop a language of my own that stands me in good stead as I watch and learn the approaches of other artists using much the same procedures. One of the notable outcomes of the Longmont workshop was the diversity of finished product from the eight artists present. Everyone clearly had their own voice.  And though we felt free to borrow from each other, I had no qualms about being imitative or unoriginal (ghosts from earlier years of being "taught" to paint), thanks in part to the months spent developing the show that is now over.  With no such specific deadline now on the horizon, and armed with the inspiration and energy provided by the workshop, I feel ready to continue the next phase of exploration of the abstract.

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