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
Do you ever feel like life shakes you sideways like a dog with a bone? And then you go flying, ass-over-teakettle, bouncing on your keister, seeing stars after skidding into in an unfamiliar landscape? Can I just say that I hope the crazy, sad, unthinkable, heart-searing losses in my family these past months teach me some valuable lessons? Make me stronger and saner? Yes please. I’ll get my bearings again, I suppose. Sometimes I sit upright in a hard-backed chair and place my hands on my knees, as it helps me gather my insides. It’s calming. I’ll be OK (stupid, blind faith). I feel like one of those boats smashed against a dock in Hurricane Ida-tossed Louisiana. Hoping insurance covers the damages.
I can’t decide if this painting feels like an underwater jellyfish parade or melting summer ice cream (or neither; you decide). Slopping paints around in my studio all but guarantees I’ll stay afloat. Getting my paints out is akin to divers that inflate huge air-filled bladders to raise a sunken boat up to the surface. What was that about water lilies, to introduce another watery metaphor — whose seeds need deep mud to sprout and reach up to the sunlight? Maybe my lily pad will house frogs and give turtles sunbathing places and provide resting spots for shimmery dragonflies.
Oh, and I happened onto this on Ted Radio Hour yesterday and it was an enlightening lecture on relationships: www.npr.org/2021/08/26/1031384034/listen-again-esther-perel-building-resilient-relationships-2020
9″ x 12″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $140
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
Did anyone see the PBS show, “American Masters” about Oliver Sacks? I was floored and inspired by his transparency and openness about his life—his missteps, his insights and honesty. And his incredible empathy (I watched it twice). He talked about his journey without hesitation or obfuscation. Which is helping me feel bolder about my own blatherings about my personal adventures and challenges. As I struggle to wrap my mind and heart around the reality of my younger sister’s death, and how difficult it was to connect with her, it is becoming clearer how my childhood wounds shape me. I have healed a great deal and worked very hard for my wholeness. At the same time, wispy fragments of longings as well as my aching quest for human connection that haunted me as a child float through my soul, and I see how I have felt ashamed of these normal and human needs. Like somehow I should be above the desire for intimacy. I should buck up, or something asinine like that. Ridiculous. Today I embrace my humanity and natural and beautiful desires. What is more precious than human connection? Yet I have often thought this was a deep flaw. Boy howdy am I letting that one go!
I worked on this small abstract on the weekend. I didn’t feel like painting at all. But it was a tonic to be in my studio and work with colors and shapes and wet gloppy paint without any attempts to make it pretty. It was a soothing experience, even with tears mixed into the chromium blues.
9″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord = $140