Studio Wildcat has been very relaxing and light filled lately. I divided my long table into two which means I have more floor space to work on. This really helps with the larger paintings. I’ll stay working this way well into the process. It’s always a bit scary exciting to lift them from the floor and lean them against the wall.
The palette has stayed true to orange but I’m highlighting it with greys and creams. I’m letting more of the process and unpainted areas show.
It’s like letting go of the wrinkle correcting cream.
PS: If you click on an image it will bring up a nice slideshow!
I was recently interviewed for the September issue of Atherton Living. The questions ranged from where did I grow up, when did I decide to become an artist and how do you come up with ideas for your work.
Then there was this question:
What makes you unique?
“My work has presence. I often use bold, colorful contrasting colors to present a position of “here I am”. Since my medium is encaustic, the color can be very intense and rich. The surface is smooth and reflective. In some work, there is evidence of layers, a history, suggesting passage and transition to something better and stronger. From afar there is great contrast, but when you come closer you’ll hear the quiet conversations. I strive to create this feeling in both my small and large paintings.
I like to think my work is for the adventurous collector!”
Notice something odd? I side stepped the question.
Perhaps the question was ambiguous.
Which? Me or my work?
In writing this post I realized I shifted from talking about me to my work. Artists will often say “I am the work. My life becomes my art.” There is an implication from the interviewer as well that the artist is the art. These are two separate questions often joined at the hip. Time for surgery.
If I can’t articulate my uniqueness then I’m falling into conventional wisdom about artists and then, sadly, art. After listening to an interview with Elon Musk I’m embracing First Principles.
In a nutshell, we start our creation knowing nothing! We won’t believe what anyone says; we’ll just observe our doing. These observations are the First Principles. They are things we know and then use them as puzzle pieces to create a conclusion. We’re creating a new paradigm. Conventional wisdom is often wrong because it’s dated by the time it becomes conventional.
All great artists, scientists, musicians, etc use First Principles. Think Thelonious Monk, Picasso, Marie Curie.
What should a painting be? What should your painting be? My painting be?
These questions invite me to identify my uniqueness in order to express them. In this white and pink painting I managed to keep a first layer drawing visible in the final rendition. This is hard to do with wax because the layers want to merge with the requisite torching. I was in First Principle mode and kept testing technique and methods.
Let’s ignore everything else and each other when we create. Let’s run our own tests, observe and use them as puzzle pieces to create a new expression of a Painting. Our painting. Failure will happen but when the success comes it will be Original!
The medium is made. Pounds of it. I’ve prepped 4 large panels and they’re leaning against the studio wall. The Bay Area summer fog has returned and I’m back in the studio.
The process of creating an encaustic painting happens in stages. First a white ground goes down followed by 3-4 layers of medium. I enjoy this part of the process. It breaks the ice and gets your hand, eye and soul connected. By the end I already have a feel for the first marks that I know will be covered up in time.
Blank panels are like those beautiful white RSVP notecards tucked inside an important invitation. Thick, 100% cotton rag paper, maybe even printed on a real press. Your fingers can feel the type. An elegant font chosen. Naturally.
To keep the motor running I thought it would be a good time to make medium and prep a few panels.
When direction begins to wobble up the energy.
I’ve got 15lbs of medium cooking and 4 large panels to prep. That will get me into the night. The making of medium is pretty easy it just takes time.
Do I buy the roasted chicken or cook it? Plant a rose bush and water my annuals or buy flowers?
Keep watching horse training videos or add to my family?
Maybe the lull is just what we need to sweeten the pot.
PS: A thank you to all of my readers who’ve been writing me back! I smile with every email and blog comment. I love hearing your responses and take on words that rhyme with ORANGE, articles on Apersol Spritz with beautiful art, and more. Words can stabilize the wobble! Thank you!
I’m on this orange kick as you may remember. Being more observant of where and why it pops up.
Some recent spottings:
Garden Shears. The words Cuts 2x easier on orange handles.
Liquid ant baits. Keep out of reach of children. Caution. (In Spanish too.)
A coffee cup and saucer. A real sit down, non chain coffee shop in Cloverdale where people actually talk to each other.
So we have cautionary tales and tinges of comfort. What else?
As Rudolf Steiner writes, “I try to anchor color into my daily life. Without my awareness of them, colors can float away….I can in a way, digest color. Colors keep my soul soft. Lack of color hardens my soul.”
-from the book Color, by Karen Speerstra
I understand this.
Orange feels alive. It’s sticky. It brightens up every mood. It’s strong yet playful. Marmalade, Brazil sunsets, California poppies swaying in the dry grass.
How about poetry? I remember “verde, que te quero verde,” from high school, but orange? After a few searches one name popped out.
Frank O’Hara from the New York school of poets.
He went to college to study music and was influenced by contemporary music and visual art. His peers were artists and musicians. He also wrote poems and soon they were published influencing his decision to switch majors and to leave Harvard with a degree in English.
His evolution supports the concept of full expression. One art influences another art. Colleagues across disciplines are bees pollinating each other’s studios and work. A healthy hive. I hope we don’t lose sight of the face to face as technology continues to become mainstream in our lives. (I’m so happy I didn’t grow up with technology. The ability to sit and day dream has its powers!)
But technology allowed me to quickly access one of his poems called…
But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.
I encourage you to click on the link to read the whole poem and find out more about him.
So in the spirit of SARDINES I present to you ORANGE.
Susan Sarti: I like to say “orange”. It sounds juicy and ripe. Once, many years ago I read a passage in a book about rhyming words. “Orange” was impossible to rhyme with one word but “Door Hinge” came close.
Francesca: Yes, it’s a fun word to say! The only word I can think of is “gorge” like the river or overeating!
Louise Jalbert: Viridian Green doesn’t rhyme with Orange but it is gorgeous!
Francesca: I love this green tinted with white! Gorgeous which almost rhymes with orangeness!