Process

Conversations

 

Some days the painting talks to you, and you know what to say.

Bach violin concerto # in A Minor, Allegro Moderato

 

Flight

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fledgling English Carrier pigeon wandered into the studio this evening.  

Movie, below, set to Chopin’s Andante Spianato & Grand Polonaise in E Flat, Op. 22

 

 

Getting Out of the Way

When I’m getting ready to paint, usually there is a quieting period, taking the edge of high excited energy down to a harness-able wattage.  Sometimes I’ll take a few photographs, mill around looking at the work that’s in process on the walls, smooth out some canvases, or often sit quietly for a very long time, listening to the wind or the stillness, so that the focus shifts to the senses and out of my busy and more linear mind.  I think of this process as getting out of the way, so that the distance between ideas, what is seen, what is felt, and what goes down on canvas, is very small.  I was curious to see if I could capture this process of “getting out of the way” on video.  This take was 23 minutes long, but compressed into one minute.

 

A Short and Poetic Film About Building a Sculpture (the Studio), with Cello

While I’ve been in the new studio for nearly a year, the collaberative design and construction remains a memorable project, yielding a giant, functional sculpture.  I recently swept together all of digital miles of video taken during the construction, and asked Gigi Harris, a talented young filmmaker, to make this piece.  

Starring roles:

The general contracting (and construction) by Leon Morgan, construction and electrical by Keith Meeks, framing and roofing by John Ediger and crew, sheetrock by Ray Williamson crew,  concrete by Dave Rockers and crew,  Polygal installation by John Davis crew, water work by the Kenny Sloans, HVAC by GK Smith crew.  Combine moving by Leon and Keith. Bin moving by Leon M., Keith M. and John H. (bin and combine events were spectacular).  I worked between shifts.

The visionary architect:  Steve Bowling, Hive Design Collaberative

 

Photo Essay – Paint, Rust and Open Air

I am enchanted with painting the combine.  The scale!  There is nothing to prepare in order to paint; it lies in wait.  Last night I dreamed about it and woke up with new ideas, barely waiting for the dew to dry to paint some more.  The beautiful thirsty rust is already gorgeous in the patterns that have been created over the years.  Keeping a delicate touch on what is painted and what is left natural, is the dance.  The purples against rust makes me swoon.  My work on canvas is benefiting from these new eyes.

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Yard Art

This old Oliver combine was beautiful as it stood, but was hidden in a patch of fast growing trees on the north end of the property.  With a 4020 tractor and a lot of enthusiasm, we pulled it out into the light and placed it near the studio.  The lichen covered rust is a beautiful neutral background for some color.

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Journal – Pelicans

I travel with small squares of good cold press paper and a few bottles of paints, pencils and small brushes. The work tends to be journalistic – a short hop from feeling to form. Watching pelicans roll by in great swooping curves, diving for fish, shake the catch down their throats, spawned these studies.

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Everything is a Universe (the beginnings of inspiration)

I’m on the Florida Gulf in large part to work; it always having been such a fertile place for painting, but it hasn’t been happening.   Having come off of an extremely intensified time in the studio in December, perhaps it’s creative fatigue, and surely in part physical fatigue, given that my methods for painting and scale call for considerable energy and strength.

A fresh 30 yard roll of canvas is propped up against the kitchen wall, breathing it’s coppery breath down my neck as I go by.  Paint bottles mixed, brushes, pencils, paper, boards set up outside to work on, not a single inclination or movement towards them is detected.  I walk the beach, walk and walk and walk, no urge to consider shape, line, color.  I feel guilty.

This past year, intensely focused OUT – studio building, negotiations, concrete pads, vistas, horizons, mass bird migrations, space, canvases large enough to depict space, series multiplying and expanding to 12 paintings deep, every foot of wall space having something pinned to it.  But January has been an inward turn.

On the shore, Instead of as usual watching the vast body of water, the birds in flight, the horizon line, I keep finding myself kneeling, pulling in closer and closer to the intimate, camera held as close as it will focus, to see the tiny jewels of the sea, the bubbles from retreating waves, bird tracks, the tiny shadows of bird tracks.  Seeing that each is a universe.  Everything is a universe!

(The cosmic so readily available by the sea.)

With 3″ square pieces of paper, a few pencils, some watercolor – the beginnings of inspiration.

 

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Beach Study - Then 4x4        Beach Study - Early 4x8       

Beach Study - A Little Later 4x4        Beach Study - Now 4x4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ground and Space

I worked all of November in the dazzling, illuminated tall space of the new studio, painting with some tired colors and a rusty process that was no longer alive.  It was painful and unchanging, with dark days of autumn reflecting the mood.

At last, I gave up completely the idea of painting and began to simply live in the studio, day after day, bringing nourishment for body and soul:  art related books and magazines, Japanese tea, piano concertos, breakfast lunch and dinner.  Lovely but grim at first.

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Gradually, in all that quiet space and time, a tree or spine form and the space around it, began to form in my mind’s eye.

Ground and Space Series - Spine

Canvases very wet, grays, blacks, dark greens over weird yellow under paintings, slamming paint filled brushes along edges for the joy and freedom of the process, rather than for the result, discovering new cause/affects.  Discovery is so vital to keeping one’s art alive, thrilling!

Ground and Space Series - Light cropped

When completing this 12′ piece, I realized the series would be called “Ground and Space”.  I’d been wallowing in space, and lacking ground!  The studio enveloped me; I enveloped the studio. It has been a warm embrace.

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Pattern and Light

Inside, outside, negative, positive, gravel and fur, rolls and rhyme, scarf and steps.

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con·crete: adjective/ 1. existing in a material or physical form; real or solid; not abstract.

Like most artists, I’ve always carved out a place to work that had one criteria:  available space.  Working for years in a 100 year old sleeping porch without heat or cooling; on the living room floor covered in plastic; pinning canvases on round hay bales to finish; tacking canvases up on the side of the house or barn, and on clotheslines.   Most recently I’ve been working between an abandoned basketball court and an upstairs bedroom with a wall knocked out, hauling paints and water and extension cords out to the court 50 yards from the house, hefting stained canvases back upstairs to finish, stretching canvases in the front hall, storing in the basement, maneuvering large finished work over a balcony when it won’t go down the stairs.   So many stairs, so many 30 yard rolls of canvases and hoses and cords and pounds of paints and brushes on the move.

After years of dreaming and planning for this new studio,  I’ve begun working on the completed concrete pads that are on two sides of the studio.  There’s shade, water, electricity.  The surface of the concrete is perfectly to spec:  a tiny bit of texture to prevent slipping when it’s wet, but not enough to impact brush strokes on raw canvases laying flat, and smooth enough to avoid tearing up bare feet.   Sawed cracks form golden ratios in key places for cutting canvases to size.  It tilts a little less than industry standard, 1″ over 15′, so the paint will stay put when poured on canvas.  The canvases can move directly from the pad, up 3 stairs and inside the studio to eventually pin on walls.  The paints move on a table on wheels between work areas.

The ease and grace!  Looking up from the intensity of the design, details, numbers, drawings and actual building, I’m catching a glimmer of how this can be.

The ever changing concrete patinas begin.

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