Thursday, August 23, 2012

digging more deeply

One of the pleasures of working with Rebecca is the feedback that she very generously gives about one's work. Talking with her in Telluride was one of the highlights of the workshop for me.  In addition to remembering my Wisconsin insights about the Colorado Plateau from last year, she had creative ideas about how to move forward with them.  This included using a list of concepts such as I described in my last post, but using them more deeply than had occurred to me, by building a relevant concept into each layer of a painting. This makes so much sense: It enhances the idea of building a painting "the way the landscape was built" -- in terms of my work, building the layers of cold wax and paint in an echo of the way the Plateau was built. This was the breakthrough insight that I had last year in Wisconsin, but by adding conceptual meaning to each layer I put down, I also echo (though perhaps not literally) the individual history and nature of the various layers of the Plateau: Moenkopi with its chocolaty, crumbly consistency, Navajo with its creamy, smooth curves. The very method of painting pulls me more deeply into contact with my muse. I also had the idea to "age" each layer, stressing it by buffing and scraping, the way the strata of the Plateau have been weathered, and to "erode" some layers to reflect the way the sandstone has been eroded by water and wind.

These ideas for specific techniques enrich my sense that my painting guide/muse at all times is truly the Plateau and all its subthemes and concepts. I do not need to look elsewhere, though from elsewhere do come ancillary themes that are a part of me, such as the music~poetry~dance at the end of my list of concepts. They all fit together, in my mind, because they are all part of me. But my "aha" here is the acknowledgement that the Colorado Plateau is not just one idea; it is a mini-universe of ideas, all of which feed my creative expression. My process thus becomes an interaction between the various painting concerns (methods and materials) and the parameters of the various concepts (meaning). I use a concept in each layer while at the same time interacting with the painterly dynamics that are taking place (color, texture, space division, etc.). It is a conversation. And the conceptual focus is on essences and iconography rather than on things and labels, and it digs more deeply into the Plateau than I had considered doing before.

"Madrugada" (8"x10", above), also named after it was finished, is another of my pieces from last spring. It will be interesting to compare these with the pieces I create now that my concept and method are more fully developed.

No comments: