Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Watercolor Truffles and Some Grass

Watercolor washes on pristine paper, not a bad way to spend part of a day. Color studies, ultramarine violet puddles and truffles. And I still have plenty of apples. As anyone who works with watercolor knows, the color and flow are sheer pleasure. At least when they go where you want them to go. Not so much when they don't. Oh, actually... the chaos can be fun with them too.

In fact, as I look at the simple color washes for those neutrals for sand, I think I will do some of those texture "tweed" pieces in watercolor too. Tweeds look neutral, but are filled with color. These pigments do some wonderful flow and settle so the texture could be really luscious. The bits of shell that go on that sand aren't very fancy. Simple shapes really. So it could be very good opportunity to take not much of anything and see if I can make it into something elegant. Joseph Raffael does some incredible color work with "neutrals" like that. So on to the list those go. That'll be fun to put them along side the oils.

Discovery is a good thing. It's half the reason I paint. Like walking along a creek, or a shore...you never know what might show up. Something that's worth taking a closer look. Time to unplug and paint some more. Come on Brush. Time to go exploring.

Do you like to be open to something you find along the way? Even in the middle of a straight ahead march?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Have You Lined Up Your Goals This Week?

This is what a before picture looks like. Before the fog of war, erm, the week sets in. If I unplug and put my horse blinders on, chances are pretty good that I can get what I want done this week done. I did a lot of tidying up this weekend, reviewing projects, straightening the notebooks, purging all the done, or no longer relevant from my desk. And looking at the master painting list. Ahem. While I can say I am pleased at the progress, the clock is ticking.

Over the weekend I decided, no DO NOT make a new list, just keep crossing the numbers off these old ones. And I have a new little project that I need to find some room for and not lose momentum on the big ones. Makes sense to combine them in some fashion. Puddles and truffles. I can go for that.

Do you have your 3 Most Important Tasks lined up? I am painting truffles this week. I am also puddling right and left with the wetlands watercolors. And I am determined to cross every item off that striped list before I fill in another. The apple? That's for eating.

Brush. it looks very much like Organizing Monday. And we have lots to do. Yes, I know those chocolates look very much like that carrot on the end of a stick. Get Pencil and meet me at the Moleskine...we've some chocolate-y, seashell-y, island-y drawing to do. What? Have Mercy? Oh, very funny, Brush. No truffles 'til we're done.

Got some incentives built into your week?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Even Before Coffee

Luscious ultramarine violet.

First strokes.

A fresh new painting.

First washes.

First strokes always feel the best. In the start of a brand new painting they can set the tone. This one is a watercolor. That striped list of mine has 2 on it for this week. Here we are beginning the first. I was supposed to get to them Wednesday. But Wednesday felt like collage. I cut and snipped on Wednesday. So here I am early on a Naughty Friday even before coffee, dipping sable into paint. The light is low, the house is quiet. The water clean and fresh. I look for a point, a light one, that will anchor all the rest.

Ahh, there it is. That flag. That flag of grass has caught my attention. It's pink. No gold..hm , a blend of both. It's at the center of all the action in this piece. There that's where I will start. It doesn't look like much in that second photo. I know. But trust me, everything else will swirl around it.

This piece will try my patience. It has lots of little bits. And it is an image that I walked in, those crabs were in all the water edge grasses. Each step I took caused a different pattern to form among the colonies of crabs. Yes, in the middle of nowhere , in shark infested waters ( I later found out) I am there watching how dainty and fierce these little guys were. Looking for the color. Watching how they move. Thinking already in line and form and color. There are clouds reflected in the ripples of the water. And there was a breeze upon my face.

Yes, even before coffee I was playing in the puddles. Don't forget, later on...get some Naughty going on. And have a great weekend. Hey Brush, ready to jump back in? You bet.

How was your early morning?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Feeling Sa-weet

Rewards or punishments, which work better? There's that striped list. That striped list looks like a few simple words scribbled in a row. It is. But it is part coach, part reminder, part collaboration partner to get me where I want to go. I am growing very fond of it. Could be because, in spite of everything that threatens to distract, I am plowing through it. Now should I let the fact that it has taken me more than one week trouble me, or should I celebrate that it is actually getting done now?

I took a huge long look at my master list on this painting series weeks ago. It's pretty big. Daunting really. I used to work one piece at a time. That wasn't going to work for the challenge before me so I tweaked a bit. Thought just maybe I would work everything through the development stages together. I decided to bring multiple working concepts up at the same time, get everything into flow at once. Lots of scissors, glue, drawing, studies, experimentation. And you know what. I like it. I worked a little out of order on this striped list this week, and I still have some things to do, but it is more done than not done. And I can actually see tangible progress in what I promised I would do on my master list on the series. So the striped list with the numbers, the striped list is a keeper.

Oh, the work still looks and feels a bit like chaos, like that oil paint I am playing in with that rag. I have tons more to do all round. But inside, it feels like spring. Ideas and concepts, ways of approach are bubbling, gurgling to the top. And THAT feels good. I know where I want the work to be within a month. That deadline is real. I have lots and lots of questions, lots of yet unknowns, but here's the one thing I do know: I can feel it getting there. It feels fresher, more alive. The goal I set out was not just to get x number of pieces done, it was to get x number of pieces done with a difference. So that little list is doing its job.

Now reward or punishment? Which is the way to go? I am thinking those cookies are looking pretty good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Troublemakers and Two Words

Troublemakers woke me up this morning. Heuristic and atavistic. Those are the two words. And then there are Bobby DeNiro and Al Pacino. You can see them staring from that collage can't you? I am not sure they would normally use heuristic and atavistic in a conversation, but they could. And they brought them forcefully to my attention just in the past twenty four hours.

It all started from this definition of lateral thinking and me innocently working on that stripity list yesterday. Noun 1. lateral thinking - a heuristic for solving problems; you try to look at the problem from many angles instead of tackling it head-on

I was minding my own creative business tackling those 4 collages on the list of things to do for Tuesday, looking for values, textures, cutting and gluing away. Using that beginner's mind to work through a series of images I am doing. Sure I could just go straight to the painting, but I am after a difference in my work, exploring some ideas I have had for some time now. Just kinetically playing with shapes and values, lights and darks. Forms on my island.

I needed a sufficiently dark background, a foil for some broken and scattered shells. Just some wetted sand that has texture and depth. I saw this movie ad which seemed to have both. Laughingly and going with random...snip, snip, glue. It felt kind of funny cutting seas shells and gluing them over the guys, but after awhile I realized that was exactly what I was supposed to do.

I put that one aside for a while and went on to the next collage. Then the next. More snipping, more random, more glue. Later when I gathered them all up. Checked to see if they were dry, there these guys were staring back at me. Hm. Will you look at that... bold and alive, a little mysterious...just like this texture you are looking for. They seemed to say, "Lay it down like you mean it, or else. Just look at us." I laughed. Silly muse, you're using Hollywood now?

So out came the paints and the rag this morning because those two words woke me up, heuristic and atavistic. I looked the second up again just to make sure I was getting the message right. Discovery for one and primal for the other. Go at it boldly that way. And I only thought it fitting, I killed a darling too. Underneath, lies another painting. Yep, it'll be buried in the sand. Hey, it's DeNiro and Pacino, who am I to argue? Sometimes you have to listen to the muse that shows up. Any muses talking to you today?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Type Are You?

Art types.

The cult of lateral thinking.

That striped list.

Do you know what type you are? Literally. What typeface is the one you like to see your name in? If you are like me it's like having to choose a color knowing full well that there are many colors that are perfectly beautiful and can't I have more than one please? Why, yes of course you can. That is next. Because I have to have other types that go with, or contrast from, that first type I picked. Types? We're talking about types?

Yeah. Here's the big fat monster sitting in front of all the fun puddle making . I am sworn on my dear granny's head to have this thing marked off that ever loving striped list now. I spent 2 hours Sunday looking at type. And types of type and great international design. And W magazine. Did you know Helmut Lang is an artist now? He walked out on his life in fashion and is opening soon with his sculpture exhibition. Way cool. Now there's a type. A brilliant type of creative mind. Ahem...see type, riviting huh?

Type can be a minimalist playground. It can say I am too fusty and curmudgeonly to even speak to you, or it can say, hello baby, and make you want to buy whatever they are selling in those little black pots of magic for your face. The type I am presently typing on won an International Design Award. Yep. The little keyboard that is a slim bit of silver, white chiclets and sans serif type, got huge kudos. Elegant in its simplicity. And it is beyond fun use. So type is a sure fire commodity. It has power.

I am going to play a trick on myself. I am going to combine my Tuesday to do list which as anyone can see has 4 collages for me to do on it today. I am going to make sure I play with type in some of those. Thus killing two birds with one stone. ( I just wanted to type thus, almost made it thusly because of all the Steven King chatter about killing off adverbs. But then I can be perverse like that when forced to do things I think I may not like. )

So Brush is chilling. Today is a scissors, pencil, glue kind of day which I actually WILL like. And I did see a cool thing they did for Saks in black and white involving a grid. Just a little lateral thinking going on here today. What type are you? I would really like to know. I am going to pretend type could be furniture I am looking to live with for a while. Ahhh, see now that already narrows down the field.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Posh Party Cake Problem Solved

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”~David Starr Jordan

The first part of getting anything done is to identify the action needed at the time. Do it. Then move on. I know many of you must have been very distressed at that first photo what with the little trapped animal cake suffocating inside and all. ME too. Clearly someone had to take action. Having seen this problem before, I quickly scooched that fancy ribbon right off the portable prison and let that little darling out. It had withstood the disco by the pool, the beefcakes in bikinis handing out champagne, and the four star fancy prawn buffet. That little guy needed some air.

Just a souvenir. Little guy took a spill on the ride home. And the gentle night air had warmed him up a bit so the the rich chocolate perfume wafted ever so slightly in my direction. Not sure if he's a bunny or a mouse. Are those licorice ears? He was showing all the signs of too long out of the fridge. Having seen that problem before too, I knew exactly what to do.

Yep. Problem solved. Deliciously.

I thought we needed a piece of cake Organizing Monday. Now let's see what I can do with my 3 Most Important Tasks. I am determined to knock a couple of items off that striped list this week. And get one bugaboo of a procrastinated task cleared. Perfection. Wanting perfection with THAT one is the hold up. So I am going to treat it like this posh party cake. Let that little guy out and do what begs to be done. The third? Ugh. Head on with that one two. I am going to get what I want there. Just because something is difficult, not the reason to give up. Maybe just nibble away until it's done too. So, got your tasks all mapped out? Let's go let them out of the box and eat 'em up. Maybe they will turn out to be delicious too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

David Bates, Diebenkorn, and My Window

My favorite David Bates sculpture.

Diebenkorn's Cityscape.

Yesterday's quest.

And my little window.

If David Bates can put the soul of a man in that found wood, and Richard Diebenkorn can put a pulse in that acre of land, can I put a heartbeat in that window? Well, I think yes. You'll see in my painting notes above that names of pigments come easily to me in watercolor. I can see in graded washes, in puddles of siennas and blues, but this piece, this piece will be in oils. So I haven't named the colors yet. I just have a sense of them. More like this will be that golden edge and this a plane of grey neighbored by clear cool. Make it velvety. That's how early thoughts go.

I like the puzzle of that window, the shapes, the distortions, the view that is both transparent and reflection. And then there is the light and shade. The island is both hinted at and seen. The geometry is man's. For me there's some room to play there. To construct a thought or two. And play with edges, places in between.

I like those places in my work. Structured and non-structured. Frameworks, but room to roam, experiment. I had that kind of week myself. I have done my 3 Most Important Tasks by simply letting go. By following the whispers of my muse. I even feel fond of that stupid insanely high numbered striped list of things to do that I have taped on my shelf above my desk. It got me here. In spite of having yet to accomplish all those numbered items, I am exactly where I need to be, numbers or no. Right here, at the next painting, and guided, to many others. For me, it is that balance. Structure, non-structure and the heartbeat. Gotta have that part too.

So I am in good painting company here in my thoughts. I love what these guys do (did in Richard's case). David's paintings could stand up and walk, they are so strong. He is a really nice guy to boot. And Richard's, well, his paintings take my breath away. It was after flying above ground that Diebenkorn really found the intimate texture of his work. David paddled a canoe within the solitude of swamps to bring its strong poetry to us. My little window is accessible only by helicopter, seaplane or boat. I went there happily. But no matter how each of us got there, we are all looking for the same thing: the heartbeat to capture within the paint. If they can do it, so can I.

Hm. Isn't it about time to be thinking about Naughty, Brush? It's Friday after all. Honestly, we ALL need a reward. Yes, I 'll be with David and Richard and that window for awhile today, maybe even with that list, but I am thinking Tabasco Bloody Mary at 5pm.... What about you? Kicking up some fun this weekend? I sure hope so.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sexy Guy, Shells, and A Window

What does sexy guy have to do with my drawing yesterday? More than you would think. Look at that pen amid all that masculine skin. The precision on the nib , the metallic preciseness, the point, makes all that skin and naturalness even more so. It's the contrast. And it works in reverse. The skin surround makes the precision more precise.

I am a trained Zone System photographer, in part because of the guy who sent me this photo. Oh, no that's not him, but it could be, even now with the inevitable intrusion of grey hair here and there. (The photo is from Flickr taken by Phil h) Well, yum to the photograph, but even more yum to the conversation we were having on the phone. We were talking about access points, personal and professional. And as he is ever so able to do, he nailed it. Not the specifics necessarily, but the point. That is why he was always paid the big bucks, I guess. But more why I always loved HIS photographs. Still do.

Anyway, he said to me at one point, "Janice, it is just a portal." He encouraged me to go back to the very basics. So I did. I started thinking in black and white and more about that pen... and windows... he reminded me of my love for black and white photographs; I could not get enough of them over the weekend... light and dark, textures, contrasts, reflections...so yesterday as I sketched and conceptualized a couple of new paintings, I was again looking, for that access point, focused on a feeling, the time of day. There in the photo on the right was a portal on the base camp from our bunks. And in the light...all the Diebenkorn excitement one could want... a window upon my island.

It's a small thing maybe. Something easily overlooked, but it has everything to do with that spot where man meets nature. Some precision, some very specific textural clues, can speak volumes in a story. Just like in that photograph, in those shells, and now in that window captured by the light. This is what my muse wanted me to see yesterday in that puzzle solving quest.

Thanks, media man.

Do you sometimes have a muse come from unexpected places? Don't you love it when that happens?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Textures of A Morning

This is the view I wake up to each day. The squirrel on the fence scampered off just before I snapped this shot.

These are the photos I was messing with on Sunday in my alternative office while sipping on a latte.

And this is the heart healthy breakfast I just ate.

Sometimes in the morning, even though the morning is crisp and clear, what to begin with is not. So we nose and nudge around, maybe have a coffee or steep some tea, waiting. Taking stock of the morning's cues. Ahh, the sky IS crisper today. That blue of sky, those dapples on the roof speak more of fall than summer. I look at those Chandeleur base camp photos again. Contrast is an important word for me this week. How does that play out today? Then, hm, no, not a smoothy this morning. I need a little crunch. And as I wake a little more this, what's at the top of my 3 Most Important tasks? Words or pictures first?

Some mornings the muse needs a little bit of coaxing. A little look out the window. Another shuffle through the sketchbook, a bit of nourishment. It's a quiet time, expectant, but dreams in the night last night are not quite worn off. This morning that design email will have to wait. I have the need to draw textures and contrasts. This is how it is sometimes when an artist is in process. A gentle need, a quiet rasp of graphite across a page. Non verbal coaxing. And letting go.

My gentle early morning brain doesn't always give me the big plan, it just says here, here's where we'll start. Some mornings it is like this. The day is just waiting for me to figure out a color. To play with some line. Then I can puddle paints, or slather glazes, or cut and glue some shapes. I have no idea exactly what we'll do today, but my muse does. I just have to show up. I'll need another cup of tea... yep, sometimes the muse whispers as a pencil leaves a mark. Says come over here, just look, look right here at this. Forget those numbers, and those to do lists until later and just marvel at this little bit. But it is a loud whisper. So I listen.

Sometimes it is just like this, how is it for you? Do you jump right up, and meet the day...or linger just a bit?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dean Moriarity and Tokyo Tam

Words never sounded so sweet as they do tumbling off Jack Kerouac's lips to the sound of a lazy jazz piano. And pleasant unexpected mail is always way fun. Two things today. ( See I am sticking to those simple single single digit numbers. ) Do yourself a favor and pick any one of the 50 Greatest Art Moments available on utube from this selection sent to me by the ArtJournal AND send someone a postcard. Come on one is free and the other is still less than a dollar anywhere in the world. ( Thank you Tam. Love it. )

Communication on a personal level, sharing some of the good moments one to one, that is just about tops in my book. Go on have some fun. Pick up a pen. NO don't click out an email, send someone a card or a note, or a child's drawing for their refrigerator ...While you listen to or watch some of these moments when things just kind of sizzle. Spread some of that one to one magic around.

Hey Brush, I like that Beret...let's see if it adds a Beat to the work today. Brush is so hip and cool.

Dean Moriarity, Dean Moriar-i-ty. Yeah, I like rhythm in my words and my lines. Don't you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back to The Drawing Board

"It's actually a good exercise to have to redesign something" says freelance designer Gabriele Wilson." Quite often, the designs end up being stronger than when they started."

There's an article in October's PRINT Magazine entitled " Kill Your Darlings". Catchy title, huh? The article is about eight book cover designs that were scrapped and the ones that made it to the book shelves. I recognized quite a few of them. If you have ever worked with a client and had to toss something you really invested a bit of time and care in, you know how hard it is to let go. Start over. Go back to the beginning with a fresh design audit of the project. When you are the client working with a new design team, it's always a bit of adjustment. Simplicity and clarity are hard work.

Part of you knows that it is kind of like eating your spinach, It will make you stronger. But part of you is kicking and grumbling about it just the same. Here's a clue. The quicker you get over yourself, the more fun you get to have with the good stuff. I did not get to the fun part of a big redesign until I found myself looking at the current PRINT Design Culture Media Magazine and the COMMUNICATION ARTS Photography Annual 49 yesterday. Then the oohs and ahhs started taking over again. Possibilities, fresh stuff. Hm.

We get a do over redesign each week don't we? Well, you knew it was Organizing Monday, what did you expect? If you have read any of the last few weeks of Mondays here, you are familiar with a certain striped To Do list I have been using for the studio work. I have yet to complete a week's worth of DO's. And especially this past week when this design do over cropped up, sat right down in the middle of everything and demanded my attention; that little list sat begging like an orphaned dog in the pound.

Am I supposed to kill that darling? All I can say is that for today, one of my 3 Most Important Tasks is to find out why those numbers are not working on that striped list. I suspect it has something to do with that nasty word, compartmentalization. And I think THAT is an ability that may be attached to gender. That other one. Or is it an artist thing? When that right brain is called into action, sometimes the left one just has to wait its turn. Any clues will be appreciated. Got your 3 MIT's set? Yep. For now 3 is the number I know works. So I am sticking with it today. And that big redesign project? I killed my darling there. Well they had to kill theirs. I thought it only fair. And now this fresh stuff...ooh I am thinking this could be lots of fun.

Ever had to do a big do over? Did it end up being fun?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meeting Michael

Michael wants to meet me and talk about art, get to know me a little better. Where do I set that date? And he has asked to bring friends...He wants a window to my world. Where do you feel comfortable having a great conversation, looking at interesting things? Meeting an acquaintance? Where is your favorite neutral third place?

I am going to be naughty and ask to use your brains...where should I meet Michael? He's moneyed, well travelled, he's intelligent, he likes fine wines...this is business don't forget, he wants to buy my art. I'm thinking Emeril's or The Windsor Grill...or a dash into a nearby museum...or there in the Ritz Library Lounge, I have had some great conversations there.

Yep. Time to break out the cocktails and settle in...just chat for awhile about the things we love. Where to do that?

And please, don't forget, go stir up some Naughty yourselves. Aren't we glad it is Friday? I am.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Access Points

Where do you meet the world? Or at least that part of you the world is allowed to have. How and where to do we intersect? As the world gets flatter, and our horizons stretch endlessly, where is it that the line is drawn? It is very exciting to have access like we have never had access before. So much is there within our reach...but...where will the mystery be?

I am not one of those who reads the last page of a book first, or wants anyone to spoil a movie for me. I like to explore, discover for myself. Puzzle a bit, let it unfold. Artists, good ones, head toward the unknown, we are always wanting more, but not the loss of mystery. What then would we do?

Give me an endless puzzle, or a series or several of them. That makes my palette drool...paintings, drawings, are access points. That's where I meet the world. Me. Well, I am just an artist...endlessly engaged in picking up a brush, moving a pencil across paper, playing with ideas. And sharing a bit with you.

Where do you meet the world? What is it that you do? Can you say it in just a few words? Yep. Talking to that designer again. He's as pushy as my muse. And he makes me think. How much to share, how much to leave private, what does the world need to know to get to the heart of the matter?

Yep. Not enough coffee in the world...go ahead if you like try it in just a few words, tell the world about you...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Deconstructing Design

Five photos. Of watches. What do they have in common? No this is not some mad dash back to your college SATS; although it may be a quirky kind of visual IQ test. Just start listing what you think these photos share. Think impact, qualities. Go ahead free associate.

Welcome to my world. How do we "talk" about design? Visual things? How do we describe an idea and translate it from words to pictures and back again? Hm? How do you convey a vision? Being able to speak the same language as your designer, or if you are that designer, being able to understand what is being expressed by your client is part of the job. NOT the easy part.

So look at those 5 photos and imagine me talking about them with my designer. What can I be saying?

Yep. Brush. We need more coffee.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leaward Lines, Gentle Colors

A simple sketch in the middle of nowhere, a boat tied fast, done for the day. The 360 panorama was pearlescent pink and gentle blue. Water for miles and miles. Nothing obscured my view, except a cruise ship way off in the deep channel; it too moored for the night to come.

I love these times of day. That switching from one thing to another. The romantic in me was captured by the pink that caught on all the edges. This is a boat and small base camp full of manly men you see. They were getting ready for rum and cigars, cutting chum to feed the sharks, while I was wandering round the decks taking pictures of pink. I would be sipping scotch soon enough, but for now I was captured by the stillness, the peace, the glaze of harmony in a wild place after a day in the sun.

I am thinking this will first go to collage. I want to do gentle washes and piece those together. I am thinking of Japanese prints. There's sky in the water, barely a few ripples, a big cloud of pink. Not sweet, more like pearls, luminescent, like the inside of an oyster. My friend the Florida writer, manly man Randy, loves the word lucent when he writes of Dinkin's Bay...yes, lucent would be the word.

I better get busy...this, hm, needs to be an extreme horizontal...how to paint empty wild open spaces and time in between times?...and there's that geomeric intrusion...how do I paint a gentle breeze? Well, I guess I just jump right in.....Wake up Brush and get Scissors we're going in.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale Of Two Lists

Unless you are in a wild west show, it is not a good idea to ride two horses at once. Leave that to the exhibitionist in the spangled shirt. Except (You knew there was an except didn't you?) when your mind is pushing you to simultaneously solve two very similar problems. That's a good time to ride two horses, because they are going in the same direction.

What am I talking about now? My certain defeat with that striped Weekly To Do list that had those ambitious numbers on it, and that smaller nocturnal list that Nabokov saw fit to give me that you see in the first photo. Two very different kinds of lists. One was a measurable, accountable, "get this done", kind of list. The other was a," hey, look at this it is very important", searching kind of list. Which one was better for me?

They both were good. And even better, they both helped solve a problem of flow. One of them forced me into random, pick the first thing up and do it, then the next, until I achieved that rather arbitrary number of items to complete. (I did not get them all done.) And the other list forced me to examine what was behind what it is that I am doing. (That one, I completed.) I had been struggling on a matter of aesthetics. That second list gave me clues of where to look with what was troubling me.

You can see it can't you? One was my left brain, one the right, but they weren't fighting. They were working together to give me two ways to achieve the same end. And what's even better, I got it. Better flow. But more than that, flow in the right direction.

It is not a creative fluke that I put those collages on high priority last week. Those were on the numbered list. While working them with a beginner's mind, they gave me the idea that I could also storyboard some core ideas that I'd found in my journals and sketchbooks when I was searching for the answers to those Nabokov riddles. I think my horses were beautifully in tandem. Because this week I have an integrated list with smaller numbers. But I know what Nabokov was telling me. It makes perfect aha moment sense.

I suspended my judgment, listened, and let intuition guide me while solving the riddle. But a big part of that solution was working that numbered list randomly. I just went with it. Now look at that second photo with those straight lined up edges, and that content notebook all neatened up. Ahhh. That's because I worked both those lists. Not perfectly, but consistently, and without judgment too soon. And they together, answered my questions and gave me the structure to get more done even while struggling. So I have to thank my muses.

I am not buying a spangled shirt anytime soon, or putting in stables...but I am very grateful to the tandem lists. When an artist is pushing for breakthroughs, trying for new ways of expression, two horses, or two kinds of lists, can be better than one. And who wants to be stuck in the same old same old? Not me. Yes, it is Organizing Monday. My 3 Most Important Tasks? Well, my striped list has more reasonable numbers on it; I will storyboard some concepts; but most importantly I have new drawings and ideas just from working with those tandem lists, and those, those I will explore. And that is very exciting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Abstracting The Essence

Pretending not to know something is a good way to find it out all over again, in a fresher way. That was my mission when I took some work outside yesterday. I THOUGHT the temperature was in the 70's. Not. But 84 felt like a cool front compared to the 100 degree days we have been having here in Texas...and there was a slight breeze on my face. I needed that slight change of pace and no distractions to get back into gear. So I unplugged. (I would much rather that Sprite have been a Bloody Mary with a Tabasco soaked green bean in it BTW, but there wasn't one to be found. Hey, it has been a tough week. Ahem.)

I needed to explore a couple of key ideas and I wanted to play with some collage. So I picked the first image I came to out of that chock a block box you see in the first photo. Random is good when using a beginner's mind. Let's see what I made of it.

Bits of glue, newspaper, inked lines I did from that list last week and the ground is a cut up Whole Foods bag, these are my tools. I am big on using what is found and around when at these maquette stages. These are rehearsals, explorations, if you will. With these bits, there is no barrier to using the materials, no cost inhibitors. No,"Oh, no I made a mistake. I am an idiot AND I wasted the good stuff." So I am pretty free and pretty blank in my brain at this point. Just an art dummy playing with glue and paper.

And you know what I see? A small aha moment that strengthens the series. Let's take a closer look.

The collage brings man meeting nature into glaring focus for me. The cut up bits are so much more interesting than the photo at this point. (Although I could fall into that happily). Oh, the photo puts me right back there at part of my base camp, but the collage tells me, hm, here's what you're painting. It tells me that the role of man will be geometrical, crisp corners, mechanical and I can play that up. Everything that is nature in this shot flows. Is restrained only by the geometry of intrusion. Aha. A point of tension. And that, I can play with too.

Big stuff? Maybe not. But if I know the "it" of it, I can take that and run. What's the core idea? It's kind of an Ockham's razor way of exploring. What's the most that needs to be there and the least? Before this simple collage I thought I would exclude the image of a scientist pulling a little red wagon across no man's land. And now, I know it is essential. Score one for the art dummy. Oh yeah. And here's a bridge to the printmaking I have been wanting to incorporate in my work. And this is just one collage. There are several to be done. So now I am excited. Each one of these can lead to new work, new ideas, or a new take on an old idea. What, all this by going back to the basics? You bet.

So Brush, bring out those Bloody Marys. It IS Naughty Friday, virtual cocktails for everyone today...and thanks for all your very kind emails. They really helped. Every one at home is good. A few bugs to work out in the re-entry system, but they are removing branches and the lights are back on for most of my friends. C'mon Brush, Pencil, grab the scissors and let's go run....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Government By Utube

As I refocus on the puddles, let me share an email with you:

Jan---Thanks, got your birthday message but was in the middle of cleaning up. Things not too bad here. City opened up today, power back on at the office, but not at Hillary or Dominican yet. Had lunch at Superior Grill on St. Charles near Touro. They were barbecuing outside and the place was full of cops, national guard, doctors, and locals. Funny image was three national guard walking in with their M-16’s and getting in line to order. We have had an experiment in government by Youtube today. WWL radio had reporters all over the place and was forcing coordination between parish governments by reporting the traffic snafus that were going on due to lack of communication between police departments. Interesting times.---Ken.

Interesting times indeed. My friend is one of the go to engineers who stays as essential personnel. We rode out Katrina together in that house on Hillary Street. So he's okay and so am I. Time to get back to work.

See that pan of paints up there? Brush is diving in today. And the scissors are coming out for those collages. Do we need some music? You bet.

Oh Brush, I know you want to go shopping for cowboy boots, but pul-lease, we have work to do. Sheesh. If it is not Nabokov, it's Gustav. Now you!....what? I would look good in cowgirl boots? Well, do your stuff and I'll think about it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav Aftermath

Gustav tap danced across every raw nerve that those of us have who were in New Orleans on August 28, 2005. As an evacuated friend of mine emailed me from Oxford, Mississippi over the weekend,"It is hard to love a city like New Orleans and hard not to." Everyone who is dear to me is safe. I am safe here in Dallas. But in a lot of ways it was much harder for me here than if I had been in the city. That may not make sense, but it is true.
I need some time. So I will take today to sort it out. I am sure my island took a hit. And I need to talk with friends, see what the damages have been, and recuperate a bit.

All best,