Thursday, January 31, 2008

oh yeah... art

I almost forgot, this was going to be a blog about art, too.

With seven weeks left to go in this pregnancy, I'm trying to make as much of it as possible, since I'll probably have my hands full for a little while.

All of my paintings from last year had been in storage, and it was curious to see them again. Most of them are unfinished, and I am now in the tricky position of trying to remember where I was going with them when I left off... not unlike trying to go back to sleep and keep dreaming the same dream after the alarm goes off. It's amazing to me what even six months away from a piece will do -- it's great to get the perspective, and to see the painting a little more objectively, but I inevitably think, What was I thinking?

I wanted this blog to be a way for me to post images of my work in progress, because I believe that is the vitality, the life, of a painting. Ordinarily we don't get to see what goes into visual art -- all the layers, all the color choices, all the little flaws reconciled -- and those are precisely the things that I'm most curious about.

So here I am working on a piece whose working title is "San Di Flor," short for San Diego Florist, a big forboding brick building with no windows in my old neighborhood of North Park:

I wanted it to look like a photo that was cropped oddly, so that you just see the design of the letters and don't necessarily think about the words themselves. The side of the building itself was an unlikely mural of different colored paint patches -- you know when the owners try to paint over grafitti and the color is just a slightly different shade of the original gray or yellow or green of the building? I love that, especially if it's happened three or four times and you get all these lovely nuanced color blocks overlapping eachother.

When I started this piece last spring, I was really into that. Being the control freak that I am, though, I jumped right in to the lettering of San Di Flor, and didn't build up a lot of layers first. The result was that the piece was just too tidy and neat -- it didn't look at all like the rough and reckless "art" I was seeing on sides of buildings. So that's what I saw when I hauled it out of storage, and I thought, I need to mess this up. That's always a good feeling.

Here's another piece I'd started last spring, and this one I did lots of layers first thing. Layering with oil paint is a time consuming process, and I think from now on I'm going to start with acrylic to give myself a good ground in half the time. I like to smear paint on with my palatte knife or scumble with a dry brush to get lots of texture in there.

So now it's taken this turn. I was originally going to collage in some paper from an old piano reel, but I decided I liked the paint just by itself. Where will it go from here? Who knows!

I have this quote from painter William Baziotes above my work table: "Each painting has its own way of evolving; when the painting is finished, the subject reveals itself."


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