When we visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) we were fortunate to see an exhibition by German modernist painters. It was a delight to see the work of a particular favourite, Anselm Kiefer. These paintings are BIG. “Big paintings” are a particular hallmark of modernist art. I’m talking about physically big paintings, and not the quality of the work, though in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, those two things were often conflated.
Seeing these paintings kicked off a desire to make large paintings ,again. When I was a student in the 1980s I created some very large paintings. Big Red, below, is 8 feet tall by 4 feet wide. The piece was created entirely of bits of paper and spills of acrylic paint. These paintings had no backing and you can imagine what a nightmare they were to hang.
When I began to paint in encaustic, my work became smaller in size. In Progress, 2013, encaustic on panel is about 40 x 30 inches.
This week I finished this egg tempera painting. It is bigger than the sketchbook, and alterbook works I’ve been showing you, but nowhere near as large as In Progress.
One more thing. A loyal reader, Regine, commented that the altered book paintings I posted last week made her think of quilting. I don’t quilt, but I’ve long recognized that my work has an affinity with quilting. Here are two collage paintings from the 1990s that show a strong link to piecing quilts.
You know what’s funny? Size doesn’t matter with digital work at all, at least not in the three dimensional way. If you have enough pixels you can see the work any size you want. Think of an iMax screen and your cellphone screen.
The year is all but done, and it’s time to slow down and take a break. If you don’t celebrate a holiday in December take a break anyway. The winter is long and festivities help to chase away the grey. If you live in a hot sunshiney place, a break can be rejuvenating for you too. Thank you all, for hanging out with me this year. I’ll be back in January.
Above you see the last painting I will have time for this year. It’s egg tempera on mat board: An upside-down Mulberry tree and Cone Flowers. (9″ x 12″)
It occurred to me this morning, that no matter where we are in life, young or old, we are always in process. We never “ARRIVE”, we’re always on the journey.
Alright, you’re all smarter than I am and figured this out when you were five, but have you reminded yourself of it lately?
Thirty-year-olds think, that by now, they should know it all, have it all. And for sure you should have arrived by the time you’re 45, 60, 70…
Oh, wait, it’s all over when you hit seventy. Too late. No soup for you!
Except that you haven’t arrived. Still, you’re in the process of becoming. You always will be. You live all your life in the process of one thing or another. The wonderful thing, the amazing thing, is that we get to decide what we want to work toward. Hey, kindness is a good goal. How about that? We can work toward being kind, or courageous, or both and everything else too.
Above is the beginning of an egg tempera painting I’m working on. I don’t know what it will become. I have lots of snarling, buzzing thoughts that tell me it will come to nothing, but I’m excited by it. It has potential. Anything that is in process has potential.
I might be edging my way back into writing. Maybe.
I read books on creativity all the time. I’m not sure if it’s because I, somehow, want to be assured that I’m creative, or whether I want to understand what goes on in that process. Either way, one thing that comes up time and again, is the admonition not to rely on inspiration. In fact talent and inspiration are two terms that almost everyone disses.
I understand it to an extent. Talents aren’t share equally among everyone, and we don’t want to make anyone feel bad because they were born with a little less of a particular talent than someone else. And there is in the creative community this idea that the talented rely only on their talent and don’t work hard. That’s wrong I think, but I’m going to leave that for another time.
Another thing that books on creativity disparage is inspiration. I’m not saying you should sit on your duff and wait for inspiration before you attempt your creative project, but for heaven sakes if it comes along grab it with both hands and enjoy the blessing.
In my last post I noted that I’d finally painted something I didn’t hate. I made a tiny beginning. Then a day later I had the opportunity to visit Lorenzo Dupuis’s studio. What a wonder! I still feel all melty inside when I think about his luminous work, and I was/am inspired. For months and months I’ve been feeling as though I’m repeating myself or taken what wasn’t mine from others. Now, there is a path, a way to learn, a voice to find and I’m going to follow that inspiration. And surprise, surprise there are hints that I’ve been moving in this direction for some time. Yes, I’m worried that my work will look too much like Lorenzo’s, and guess what, he worries that his work looks too much like someone else’s. Creativity is a funny circular thing. Accept your talent, your inspirations and make something of it!