Process

Painting Process – Autumn

It’s autumn, and the colors of the woods and prairie are coming into the studio.  The doors and windows are open, the air is sunny and fresh.

Paintings begin on the ground, where thinned acrylic paint is pushed into the canvas, using gloved hands, brushes, gravity and sometimes brooms.  This forms the atmosphere in which the painting lives.  Then the canvas is pinned to the wall, where more opaque mark making is laid down.  Sometimes it goes from floor to wall and back again, numerous times until it is completely resolved.

 

 

Easing Back Into the Studio

This past month has been heavy with sales, inventory and installations.

As usual after not painting for awhile, it takes some time to clear my head, relax, open up my senses and be able to work.  First, it’s time to sweep the large floor, open the doors, take in the landscape, make a pot of tea.  Maybe read a little something beautiful,  listen to some soul piercing music.  Untangle.

 

 

Photographing Art

Photography Day

I used to try to photograph my own work using a good camera and lighting, but the images were never as alive, the colors never balanced as a professional photograph, and the large scale of my work added to the complexities. How can I expect someone to select work off of the internet without a near perfect reproduction of the painting?

It takes this team: A steadfast and cheerful studio assistant and I measure, title and pin the canvases perfectly smoothly to the wall. Kansas City’s premier art photographer, E.G. Schempf, brings massive high quality equipment, sets up, shoots, color corrects. Another professional photographer joins us out of kindness, friendship and a greatly appreciated fine eye for color balance, and assists in every step.

I sometimes am working just ahead of the photograph, with a paint brush or spray can, tweaking the painting before it’s frozen (snapped) in time.

Immediately after photographing, each painting is color corrected. This involves commitments by each of us (four) individuals dedicated to accuracy in color, tint, contrast and clarity, to truthfully represent the work’s luminescence, intensity, saturation, depth, brilliance, muddiness, agitation, peacefulness.  Sometimes it takes over an hour to get a heavily pigmented painting to come into color balance.

All specs are then put into virtual and physical inventories.

The above 1 minute video covers a 7.5 hour shoot for 10 paintings.

Music: James Cotton with Joe Louis Walker & Charlie Haden playing Vineyard Blues.

Note: 2 of the last 3 paintings are vertical; we always shoot horizontally.

 

 

Waiting for Inspiration

Sometimes I’ll hit the studio full of ideas and energy and exhilarated to be able to paint, and nothing happens. I can pick up some tools and begin to work, but it’s obvious before the first brushstroke, that it isn’t going to work. Where does inspiration go? Sometimes you have to wait around for it.

 

July

July’s exceptionally hot days and nights, pushed me into a palette of cool, deep shade.   The quiet of the country and the heavy humidity, allows the beauty of the chorus of bug songs to come through.  I can feel that in this painting.

 

 

How Paintings Begin Sometimes

Paintings don’t begin with paint.  There’s canvas to unroll, size, dampen, colors to mix.  Even then sometimes it feels good to simply be in the studio for awhile, checking brooms and brushes, watering the plants, opening the windows, staring out at the landscape, until there’s not a sense of time, but rather of being aware.

I usually start a painting the day before I’m going to work on it – getting the basics out of the way, and maybe laying down atmosphere, pouring thinned pigments and mediums into the raw canvas, letting it dry completely.  The second day, it may get pinned up on the wall, and internally driven mark making process begins.

Sometimes, however, there’s a piece of fabric or a form, or a line that had been seen on a Grecian urn, that ignites something inside me.  This painting began with a begonia leaf, and later a pink bloom from a geranium.  Usually the actual form is simply a catalyst, but this time the mark making came directly from these items.

 

 

Working in the Studio, and a Fresh Coat of Paint

I worked on many canvases over the last few months, many of them pinned up on the walls at one time.

It really helps the process to move from canvas to canvas, sometimes getting stuck and moving on to freshen up my eyes.  When the canvases are wildly varied like these, it keeps me untied, and in a mode of discovery.  Having many to work on at one time with no hurry to complete, felt so luxurious, and allowed them to unfold naturally.

Having completed most of the work, it was time to document, photograph, inventory and notify galleries – the nuts and bolts of the business.

Having done that, I decided it was time for a fresh coat of paint:

A fresh start!  It seems so quiet here now.  Imagining the stillness could be reflected in the next body of work.

 

 

Saturday Painting Frenzy

Saturdays have long been my favorite studio day.  Even though I work every day, the luxuriousness of a Saturday from my corporate days lingers.  The phone rarely rings, my favorite radio station has good music programs, and it feels free and unfettered.

Yesterday was wild – fast and furious energy, I pulled some older canvases to rework (always free-ing) and kept the camera going to watch the progression of some narrative work.  When watching them all together this morning, these time lapses seem to capture the frenzy.  Mozart’s Symphony #25 sets the perfect pace.

The work is unfinished.

 

 

 

Photography Day May 2017

It takes a team to shoot extra large paintings.  Since the canvases are not stretched until consigned or sold, they have to be perfectly pinned to the wall for a smooth flat surface to photograph.  We color correct as we go.

Photographer:  E.G. Schempf

 

Reclaiming Space and Form

After a long period of photographing completed paintings, preparing for shipment, inventory and buying materials, it is at last time to reclaim space and form, and begin to paint again.

Music by Taj Mahal – M’Banjo

 

Immersion – Working Into the Night

I’m working on large scale narratives, and immersed in the studio, always alone, keeping focused.  Language is uttered in color and mark.  The large scale work is exciting, being much larger than I am, and the physicality of harmonizing the painting by moving from one end to the other makes it feel like we are one.

Often I’ll shoot videos to watch the progress, slowing them down to see if I am leaving a better painting under the one that it becomes.  Strangely, being shot as time lapse, it feels impersonal, and I’m comfortable posting the process.

This one tracks the sun lowering in the sky and eventually darkening into night.  If I have enough snacks and water, there is no sense of early or late; as long as the energy is flowing, the work does too.

 

 

 

Immersion – Working in the Morning

It works best for me to immerse in the studio, without weaving anything else into that time.  Getting to work early mornings and watching the light move from dark to first light to brightness, is exhilarating and focused.  Occasional breaks to simply sit quietly, reintegrate body and soul.

I’ve been running time lapse videos to watch the progress, slowing it down to see if I am leaving a better painting under the one that it becomes.  This one picks up the energy of the morning, especially when accompanied by Mozart’s variations on “Laat Ons Juichen, Batavieren”.

 

Moving a Large Painting

For two of us to move a 15′ painting under a partially 14′ ceiling, requires strategy and patience, threading the painting between rafters, for storing.  We ask ourselves sometimes, what can’t two women do?

 

 

Time to Play

I work incessantly, partly because of an obsession with visual beauty, but also because the act of creation for me is a way of feeling the most alive.

It’s hard for me to remember that an important part of the process of creating art is taking IN the world, not just the output.  In fact dedication to observing and fully living in the world, for an artist, may be one of the most important and honest things we can do.  Experiences then can course fully through one’s system and show up when creating.

We are staying on the Florida Gulf coast in a cabin on the beach, taking it all in, taking in the beautiful rhythmic surf that narrates the natural world of sky, water, sand.  Harmony begins to take over.  Playfulness blooms.

Here’s how the days go by on the gulf coast:

 

 

Beginning Again

Projects have been completed and shipped or put away, the studio is swept clean and there are blank canvases on the floor.  The light is beautiful, a large flock of bluebirds who are wintering  here dot the hedge tree just outside the studio’s glass door.  There’s a sense of spaciousness internally and externally.  It is time to begin again.