Sometimes I look at abstract works of other brilliant artists and I’m stunned by the lively beauty that is there. Gorgeous, lyrical compositions of light and color. I don’t think my abstracts are beautiful. Some days I wake up and look at a freshly done, still-sticky painting and think it’s hideous. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t finished and shouldn’t be shown to the world. Even if that world is small. Generally my acrylic creations contain raw emotion, which in my opinion makes them authentic, if not visually pleasing. Is that what my art should be? An honest expression of what’s happening on my insides? I don’t know. Really, I have no idea. But I need to paint them, even if no one ever looks at them twice or finds them appealing; few people would look at one of my large pieces and say, Ooh, that would look nice hanging over my couch.
But this is my process and my need to do this work boils in my gut. Even if my paintings are never seen, they are still mine and necessary to create, especially during this moment in my life that is smashed up with grief.
12″ x 12″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $185
I was honored to be invited by Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda to demo painting with acrylics and had a ball [on Zoom from my studio]. This is the abstract result — it has many layers, and I even relaxed a bit during the process though it makes me squirmy to be watched while I paint (heard a story that deKooning would paint outside and sit inside a large cardboard box for privacy — have no idea if it’s true, but I get it). What surprised me (maybe it shouldn’t have) was that I experienced strong emotion at the beginning of the demo as I painted; even with eyeballs on me, making art splits me open like a pea pod. If you’ve read even two of my blogs, you know I celebrate the expression of emotion — I believe it’s healthy. My particular challenge is not to drown in feelings, which happens; I’m grateful for loved ones who toss me the occasional life preserver and pull me back into the boat.
I guess because this abstract had so many iterations, it’s nice to be reasonably satisfied with the final result (which was auctioned off and sold, hooray!). At one point it was half-smothered in drippy green acrylic goo, and I thought that was the end of it and maybe it should quietly be put out to pasture (took out my palette knife, added more color and it got better). It’s hard to know when to stop and when to move forward. Keep trying? Ditch it and start a new one? How to decide? Lessons of life. I guess I’ll just keep navigating by the seat of my pants; I’m still in motion.
12″ x 12″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord
One of my great joys is gathering with other artists — a sketch group, perhaps, or a class I’m teaching, or meeting my painting pals Sue and Madeline at Crab Cove to draw, paint, gab — or maybe just stare at the water in a slight daze or notice how the Canada geese goslings are growing up. There are big leafy trees, people with those colorful crescent-shaped wind-sail thingies out in the bay, cacophonous crows squabbling in the trees, cooling, salty breezes off the water, families having picnics, neighbors walking dogs, nature classes for kids. An embarrassment of riches. I am humbled and grateful for these warm-hearted and soothing conclaves. On a recent afternoon I doodled this abstract.
7″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, pencil, acrylic ink on paper