Thursday, February 10, 2011

early morning thoughts

With Jeff’s talk resonating in my mind, I woke up early and found myself thinking about my work. What is my passion? Representing sandstone on canvas (board). Why? It (the sandstone) has spoken to me since high school, here outside Sedona. I need to keep that passion up front in my mind as I work. And it’s not only the sandstone, it is also the sky, so much a presence here in the southwest. Not only how beautiful and mysterious it is, but also that it requires looking up, and how important that is to me. It’s so easy to get focused on looking down.

I also need to create a syllabus for a 5-day workshop in cold wax techniques that I may teach at our high school this spring, and am musing about sequence and emphases. There will be lots of hands-on, but I need to start each day with a focus and a demo.  For example, Day 1: Cold wax, its properties, and how I use them to represent sandstone, sky, and space (that has a nice ring to it). Strata in the earth and strata in the painting process. Two-dimensional visual strata in traditional painting, and the use of cold wax, which allows three-dimensional strata building. Day 2: Color fields and support size/shape. Opaque versus transparent paint. Value. Warm and cool contrast. Detraction methods. Day 3: Marks and expression. Additive marks and detractive marks. Confinement (support edges) and freedom. Vertical versus horizontal orientation. Representation versus abstraction. Day 4: Thinking outside the frame. Using non-traditional natural substances.  Observation, interaction, conversation. Getting to a message. The path of the eye. Rotating the support. Day 5: Getting to finished. Keeping it fresh. Using mirrors.

Messages to myself in my own work: Go deeper. Ask why I like something in a piece and pursue it. Look for interesting serendipity and take it further. Remember underlying principles and build on them without letting them constrain. Explore embedding. 

Find new techniques to build cliffs. Sandstone and sky. Forget foreground. Go deeper into layers and colors of sandstone. Think of past cliffs and do the layering in cold wax. Bring more pieces of stone into studio. Use and vary cliff colors. Build, scrape. Think in vertical and horizontal, with arcs, slopes.

How to do sky in cold wax? Think depth – the deep blue behind and beyond the “surface” we see. The pale blue of day sky. The sky colors at day beginning and day end. The patterns and textures of clouds and storms. The smoothness of clear sky.

I remember meeting two women at the Escalante art festival last fall who had stopped to see my work in Torrey. They told me about peering at my cliff paintings and asking themselves, “How did she do that?” Jeff talking about wanting people to feel uneasy when they are with his work, to wonder about it, and his seeking effects that would provoke that reaction. I want a similar response, more of the “how did she do that” quotient like the ladies expressed last fall.

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