Monday, September 24, 2012

Coming Into Focus

A few years ago I came into possession of a roll of triple oil primed linen, 78” wide by 118” long. For most of that time the giant canvas has leaned in my studio corner while I waited for some sort of inspiration to come whack me on the head.
The prospect of a gallery exhibition next year made me consider the linen roll with renewed interest. Why not do a painting on the entire 6’6” x 9’10” piece. Of course, this preposterous idea brought my nattering naysayers out of hiding. “You can never make a painting that huge.” “Where will you set it up?” Where will you store it even if you finish it, which you won’t?”

With much effort, I sent the mental critics packing and plunged ahead. After constructing a special easel in Studio A (the front porch), I unfurled the long linen roll. To my chagrin, it turned out to be quite a bit longer than the easel.
As a result, I am forced to work on one section at a time. Presently, I’m working on the lower half with only the vaguest idea of what will go on top. This kind of not knowing turns out to be tremendously liberating. By focusing on one small area at a time, I am free to paint whatever strikes me in the moment.

This morning I will paint this much. After lunch I will paint another area. The painting proceeds, in this way, from one moment to the next. From past experience I know that the whole composition can be pulled together, and will eventually hang in the gallery as a unified piece.

That will be seven and a half months from now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blog or Tweet or Pin or Friend, Oh My

Last night my local art guild had our monthly meeting, which on this occasion featured a lively discussion on social media and the artist. The opening question was not whether artists should utilize social media, but, since everyone already does it, which ones are most beneficial to artists.

We discussed web sites and Facebook, of course, but also blogs, YouTube and the new social darling Pinterest, which is like a personal web bulletin board. The consensus seemed to be that some good can come from all of these sites, but the trick is learning to balance one's time in the studio with time on the computer.

At the end, one of the presenters gave a brief summary about selling art and the various social media sites. She kept referring to art as our product and it occurred to me that we artists almost never use that term. Art to us is our creation, our passion, or work, but never our product.

Perhaps that one little semantic twist has become a stumbling block on the road to selling art. We get so wrapped up in the creative process that we're often unable to consider art as separate from ourselves. Art becomes who we are and not what we do. As a result, the business of selling 'art who we are' is regarded as demeaning and to be avoided at all costs.

It doesn't have to be that way. Art is both a product of our imagination and a potential product in the marketplace. And the two ideas need not be mutually antagonistic. If we understand that once art is created it becomes separate from us, then we can more easily accept it as a product of what we do.


Monday, September 3, 2012

We Are Not Alone

Aliens, those sometime friendly, but more often sinister visitors from outer space, figure large in human history. Many ancient religions as well as some modern ones believe their ancestors came from the stars. Part of the intrigue undoubtedly comes from our fascination of the other, that being completely outside our knowledge at the edge of our imagination. Onto these creatures, we can heap our own fears and uncertainties about life and the unknown.

My own interest with things alien has always been closer to home, not outer space, but inner space. The inner space I speak of lies in that nearby but mysterious space between our ears, the region called the noggin.

"Why do I choose one course of action over another?" "Why do I do such crazy things?" Sometimes it seems like an unseen alien in my noggin is calling the shots, making me think and act in ways that are counter productive. In psychology, these unconscious aliens are simply thought of as disassociated aspects of our own psyche. Plato's aphorism, "Know thyself," encourages each of us to bring those lost parts of ourselves home to the whole.

My art has always been about shining light on the unseen gremlins of the psyche and perhaps, in that sense, a belief in aliens is our attempt to come to grips with our own otherness. In the end, they are nothing but a construct of human consciousness.

Opening Friday night at Dunedin Fine Art Center is an exhibition called "Intergalactic." This diverse and exciting show about aliens will feature two of my most recent works.