Notes: paintings

Notes on works that you see on this site

Wellspring; acrylic and graphite, 2016

wellspringpainting

 

While sitting in the Jemez river (in the Battleship Rock area outside Jemez Springs, here in New Mexico) I observed the bends in Ponderosa branches and fell in love (for the millionth time) with the shapes of tree branches. When planning the colors, I remembered pebbles underneath the clear surface of the spring fed river, particularly the ochre and somewhat burgundy colored stones, mixed with a variety of gray-greens and slate colored stones. I wanted to convey an upspringing from a source. Overall, I intentionally kept the painting simple. I will note that I never knew the beauties of gray in all its variations. Gray is everywhere in nature, but natural grays seem warmer, more variable, more personable than, say, concrete and other manmade materials.

Antiquary, Acrylic Painting

Antiquary thumbnail

I work in acrylic, mostly, although I enjoy working in different media as a whim arises. For example, some weeks all I want to do is draw, and other weeks I can only think of painting. Sometimes I only want to draw in ink, others in charcoal. Let’s say that artmaking has become an expensive habit, since I need a full closet of supplies to address my whims. I have always “made art”–for a long time, I enjoyed photography, I have tried jewelry, linocut, collage. And of course, I have written poetry since I was old enough to write.

With that said, with this particular painting, I recognized that I have a tendency toward red–it is one of my favorite hues, and I enjoyed making textures and layers with molding paste, as well as two different reds (a deep red, and a bright red). The painting became a meditation of layers; sometimes I am disappointed to paint over an area that I liked, only to discover new textures and layers emerging as I rub the painting with towel, or add water, or more paint. I use my fingers, paper towel, water, my breath, rough brushes, fine brushes, everything I can to pull an image out of the canvas.

I had been listening to a lecture on Great Mythologies of the World, and had also finished an audio lecture on Ancient Mesopotamia. I was struck by the delicate nature of archeology, history, anything human beings are doing to preserve, categorize, learn from the past, particulary ancient history. I had not thought of the museums that had been destroyed and looted in the Iraq war. I learned that many objects from ancient cultures in Mesopotamia have not been recovered. I feel there is a great loss to humanity, since as the decades pass, new methods or new perspectives allow us to draw more out of the objects, for the greater understanding of cultures and historical context. Imagine trying to piece together a culture using another examiner’s notes that were written three decades previous–and now the object itself is gone.

Antiquary  shows a delicate “tracery” (as I called it in my head) floating above the textured, substantial, lower section of the painting. I imagined that the delicate tracery is the work of the archaeologist or expert in ancient history. I hope that you enjoy the painting, and that this note gives a window into some of the thought process that went into the painting.

 

Heighten, Acrylic Painting

 

Heighten thumbnail

I confess that this painting was an experiment with two different types of texture paste; the texture at the bottom is rough and sandy feeling. The texture at the top was made with a knife that has holes in it, I assume for the purpose of doing what I did, as it felt pretty natural to scrape the paste across the board, and then press the knife into it to get the poky-pocked texture that resulted. As you can tell, I don’t care much for technical terminology as I think it doesn’t say anything to the typical person reading this. I write how I like, and how I like to read. Although I am glad to share exactly what I used here if anyone is interested.

This piece has layers of reds and burnt sienna, or burnt sienna mixed with blue. The white/grey over top has a blue mixed into it so it appears cold. The very first layers of this painting were golds, oranges, coppers, reds, and greens. Then alarmed by the vividness I started to mix in the sienna, and grays, as well as gray-greens. While working on non-representational work, I also keep a representational piece nearby so I can go back and forth. The original colors (oranges, greens) matched the colors I am using on the representational piece. In theory I thought this was a great way to work. However, things always get out of hand and now it is completely different.

I wanted to convey weight and lightness, and I thought the gold and the pocky texture at the top gave a feeling of rising up. Hence why I called it Heighten. I liked the fence-like textures at the bottom, trying to convey more structure and constricture down low, and what looks to me like a little zen hut at the top of the pile of red. You can make it what you want, but to me it felt like I had hiked up a mountain to see a zen master!

 

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