Friday, January 25, 2013

New Work, New Series

Finally! I have four new pieces completed in my new series! I started these pieces on January 3rd, 2013 with the intent on having a new series that still played with the idea of forgotten memories and old photographs, but also incoroporated some color and other elements I had been thinking of. I didn't want to stray too far from my previous work, but instead I wanted the new paintings to be a continuation of what I was doing and have it look like a natural progression.

I actually completed five paintings, but one of them was feeling like it didn't belong with the rest of the work so I am not showing it. I may wipe it out completely or try and tweak it a bit and see what happens. We'll see... In the meantime, I would REALLY appreciate feedback on the new work.

"Her Dirty Laundry" 36"x36"
This was the first painting I started. The images are from two separate
photographs but I liked how they played against each other.

Untitled, 24"x48"
This piece was one I really struggled with. I originally liked the size and shape of the
panel and thought it would work perfect with the figure. Later, trying to fill the space
was troublesome. I had a few versions of this painting but none of them felt resolved.
Even now I feel like it could use something else. I may end up changing this some more
"Looking Down on the World" 40"x30"
I don't have much to say about this one. I like that the orange bar on top
looks like it's pushing down on the figure, compressing him in the space.
My husband said it looked like a giant looking down on the world below,
hence the title.

Untitled, 36"x36"
The great thing about this piece is that it looks like a composite of two photos
but it is actually just one. It looks like this woman saw a pelican and got as close
as possible to it in order to take the picture. It was such a quarky image, I had
to paint it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wall of Frustration

Today started out to be a pretty frustrating day. One of the paintings I was working on just wasn't "jelling", it felt unresolved and I wasn't happy. I had hit the frustration wall hard and I was ready to give up for the day. I sent the image to my friend Will and told him about my frustration. Will, being a smart man who knows me well, sent me a text that said, and I quote "Did you really expect to master these innovations overnight? The whole point is the challenge. Being frustrated is part of the process."

Uh, well yeah, I did expect to master these new challenges and produce beautiful work right off the bat. Silly, right? No wonder I was frustrated. Even with my last series, where I knew what I was doing and what direction I was headed in, I didn't produce all "winners" so why was I expecting to do that now? I am still working out the kinks in this new body of work and yet I expected to have each piece nicely resolved and all ready to display right away. Sometimes we just set ourselves up for frustration with our expectations and I was guilty of that in a BIG way. My expectations were sky high and I couldn't reach them.

It's hard to remember that I am human and need time to figure things out. I get so impatient and want instant gratification. I've been that way all of my life and it's not a good way to be. It has led to a lot of frustration and stress. I'm trying to be better about it, especially with this new body of work. I am trying to let it evolve naturally, without forcing anything to fit into what I think it should look like. It's hard though. I forget this is a process sometimes. I get so frustrated and want to quit even though I know these challenges and frustrations are part of the process. There are no shortcuts. Everyone must pay their dues and push through that wall of frustration if they want to succeed. Fortunately for me I have friends who remind me to take a breath, step away, and then come back to it when I am less emotionally charged by not having things work out they way I want them to. Today I did that and I feel much better about the work.

I have three pieces done...I think!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Feeling Pretty Good

Yesterday I finished a large portion of my first painting in this new series and, looking at the painting right now, it feels good to see something that I like. This series has been producing a lot of anxiety in me, anything new usually does, but I think I am at a point where I can relax a little. Just a little. I have a clearer concept of what I am doing and what I want to do with this work. So far, it's working out the way that I want it to. I still have a few unanswered questions, but some of the major ones are answered and I feel good about it.

One interesting thing that I found while painting this new work is that painting a face was a bit intimidating. Although I painted ALL of the eyes on my last series before blocking them out, there was a certain freedom in knowing that if I "messed up" the eyes, it wouldn't matter too much since they would be covered. I rarely  "messed up"the eyes and I always went into it with the idea that I wanted the eyes to be as true to the photo as possible, but now that I am not covering the eyes (did everyone hear that? I AM NOT COVERING THE EYES IN THIS SERIES... all of you who were upset every time I did that, you'll be a lot happier with me now...), I am a little more nervous and cautious about making sure the eyes, and face, looks good. It was not something I thought would happen since I have practiced painting eyes and faces so many times. I assume this is only a temporary thing, but it did add to my anxiety.

As I work on the second painting I am feeling a lot more confident than I did going into that first painting. I can feel the excitement building for this work and have already decided what I wanted to do for a third painting. I hope this excitement continues for many more paintings!

I PROMISE to have images as soon as I finish the first three paintings....

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Anxiety, Fear, and Excitement

Anxiety, fear, excitement....Those three words seem to accurately describe what I have been feeling for the past few days. I have started the first piece in my new series and there are so many questions I don't know the answers to. What is my next step on this painting? Can I pull this off? Will I like what I paint? Will my galleries like my new work?? It is a scary time for me. I am completely out of my comfort zone, a place where I haven't been in for a very long time. My artist friend, Lani, says it's like being on a trapeze naked. You're fully exposed with that feeling of falling in the pit of your stomach. Yup, that is me to a T.

Yesterday was the first day I applied paint to panel and while everything went okay, it still kept me up all night wondering what my next step on the piece will be. With my last series it was so easy. I found a photo I liked, cropped out what I didn't want to paint, and then just painted it. When the painting looked like the picture I knew it was done. In this series I am not just painting from a photograph. I don't know what the final piece will look like ahead of time. I am having to rely on my instincts to determine what I do next, when a painting is done, and this freaks me out. It freaks me out A LOT.

I am hoping once I get my "feet wet", and finish a few paintings, I will have less anxiety and this new series will evolve naturally, just as my previous one did. The only way to find out though is to keep painting. So I am off, to paint my heart out, and hopefully create something great. Oh, and by the way, it may be awhile before I post any photos of what I am working on. I want to figure things out a bit first, on my own, before I show the world. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Expectations

Last night my friend Will forwarded me a quote for "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron:

Creativity is a spiritual practice. It is not something that can be perfected, finished, and set aside. It is my experience that we reach plateaus of creative attainment only to have a certain restlessness set in. Yes, we are successful. Yes, we have made it, but...

In other words, just when we get there, there disappears. Dissatisfied with our accomplishments, however lofty, we are once again confronted with our creative self and it's hungers. The questions we have just laid to rest now rears their head again: what are we going to

This passage hit the nail right on the head. Recently I announced that I had completed the last of my "Forgotten Memories" series. While a lot of people were supportive and excited to see what I would come up with, others weren't sure why I would want to change something that worked, and did well. Why not stick with what's familiar? It's easy (for me) so why not just continue what I have been doing?

While I accomplished a lot with this series, it's no longer enough. I have been restless and wanting to try something new. I am hungry for a new challenge, a new series that will take me to the next level, whatever that level happens to be.

I used to worry that I was too ambitious, that I would never be satisfied with what I've accomplished. I used to ask myself "when is this going to be enough?" It has taken me a long time to be satisfied with many aspects of my life and not always feel like I was missing out on something more, something better.  I am pretty happy now. I have a wonderful husband, house, friends, etc. I have a good life. But I think with art and creativity, though, you should never be satisfied with what you have. We should always be too ambitious. We should always be striving to challenge ourselves, to not be stagnant. When it comes to our creativity, we are never done growing.

The unfinished quality, this restless appetite for further exploration, tests us. We are asked to expand in order that we not contract. Evading this evasion that tempts us all... leads straight to stagnation, discontent, spiritual discomfort. "Can I rest?" we wonder. In a word, the answer is no.

As artists, we are spiritual sharks. The ruthless truth is that if we don't keep moving, we sink to the bottom and die. The choice is very simple: we can insist on resting on our laurels, or we can begin anew. The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew.

This is what I am ready for. I am ready to start anew and see where this takes me. My new series may not be as successful as my "Forgotten Memories" series, it may be a complete flop, but if I don't try and do something new, I know I won't be happy as an artist. I don't want to just be a machine cranking out work that means nothing to me. I want to continue making work that inspires me and makes me happy. So while some of you may not be happy with my decision to try something new, hopefully you'll understand my need to do this.

I think this will be an interesting journey filled with ups and downs, success and failures. I'm excited to see what 2013 will bring and I hope everyone will push their creative abilities along with me!