My studio is stinky. I think I burned all my nose hairs with the amount of fumes from the turpentine I've been laying down the last two days. Looking forward to warmer weather when I can paint with the windows wide open. In the meantime, do I use the respirator hanging less than ten feet away? No, which is stupid. I start each painting thinking I'll just lay down a line or two, sketch in a rough composition, play with layers. Get a feel for it to see if the size and shape of the canvas (or whatever I'm working on) fits with what is beginning to take shape. If it starts to click together, I become completely engrossed and lose all track of time. Next thing I know two, three hours have passed. This is exactly how this past Monday went. After having received feedback to go larger, I spent the previous weekend working on a slightly smaller version of the painting above and pulled from it a few monoprints on Visqueen. One of the large, wet prints was then laid on a primed 4'x8' panelboard. First thing Monday morning it was obvious that the large monoprint wasn't working for me; it felt 'off', didn't have the same visual impact. The print led me down a little rabbit hold about bodily impressions on beds, which then led to the twin-size bed canvas, which led to the idea that I should be creating some conceptual masterpieces about how everybody sleeps. Ha! Good thing I snapped out of that relatively quickly. Whenever - and I mean, truly whenever - I think I have a super hot idea, it ends in disaster. Of course all of these mental gymnastics led to noticing that the twin-size mattress of a canvas with a version of the salty sunbather also felt off. Here's why: in another photo of the same beach scene and off to the left, there's a cluster of people that read (to me) as a dirty old man taking up too much physical space and gawking. Power, toxic masculinity, privilege on display, granted, it may seem like a micro display, but it's still a thing. Do I really want to get into a painting about the female gaze and pervy old guys? You bet I do! Now that's something I can relate to on a whole bunch of levels. Next thing I know, I'm scrapping the abstract monoprint by painting right over it and within a matter of minutes I have the new salty sunbather sketched out. The older tanned lady (with baggage) is looking at the older tanned guy (her husband? Similar tan, empty beach towel and obnoxiously visible baggage) as he postures in front of a younger woman who is obviously new to the beach scene as noted by her pale skin color. Near the center of the painting is a trio of women of various shapes (no body shaming here!) and a young boy, obviously related, getting ready to snorkel. Nature vs. nurture. Growing up looking at Paul Cadmus (Coney Island at LACMA plus others). Falling in love with Eric Fischl's work but can't relate to the male-gaze thing. Feeling breathless looking at Joquin Sorolla for the shear beauty of his work and the blatant pedo vibe. (I'm not the only one who sees this, right?) So I'm creating something that I think all females can relate to: being subjugated and silent about it. The microagressions are real and we let way too damn many of them slide. No more.
Ike and I drove to a gallery in Kirkland, near Totem Lake a couple of weeks ago for my first group critique in over two decades. The purpose of the critique was for possible inclusion in an upcoming group show at Ryan James Fine Art. My approach was to not have any expectations about getting into the group show. Hopes, yes. Always! But no expectations. The drive up was nearly uneventful, and by nearly, I mean that I wasn't too much of a brat with my nerves being a little frayed and all. I only jumped on Ike once - that I can remember - because he wanted to take a different exit and we were almost late and the instructions from the gallery was to arrive five minutes before the scheduled appointment. Whew. They were running behind by about thirty minutes so we went for a walk in the sunshine. I think we were both a bit nervous. With time to spare, we decided to go inside and wait in the lobby. Two other artists where also waiting. We all chatted and kept the conversation light.. It was then time for my fifteen minute in-person critique. I round the corner to find a long line of covered banquet tables and five panelists plus the gallery owner. Well, okay then! Showtime! I submitted images of three small abstract works from my Waxing Poetic series, works that I love and that I thought would fit well with what I had seen of the gallery's artists' work online. These were the works that I had to bring in. I unwrapped them, passed two of the three for the jurors to hold and look at up close, and placed the third on an easel. I then proceeded to tell them a little bit about myself and the work. Most of the jurors were gracious and kind with their constructive criticism. For that, I was and continue to be grateful. As I told them, it was a pleasure to have input other than my own and Ike's (maybe I'll go into that in another blog post). Note to self: do not take framed work to a critique! The frames were a sticking point for the panel and took up way too much time. Excellent feedback from Pat Cameron was to work the frames if they are to be an inherent part of the piece; manipulate them. She reference Joseph Cornell. Spot on. Overall, the panelists referred to the work as "sweet" due to their small scale. Even though the panelists asked me if I was opposed to ditching the frames (which I'm not), Milan Heger advocated for the frame of Waxing Poetic #13 stating that it reflected the playfulness of the piece. He then went on to state that he would like to see these works in a much larger scale, one in which the viewer becomes encompassed by the work. Ideas flooded my brain instantly. Asked if I was willing to work larger, I let them know about frames I made that are roughly the size of a twin bed and then pointed them to The Boys. Most of the panelists lit up like a Christmas tree over that. One juror questioned my spectrum of styles, but I didn't have time to go into how I am not, nor have I ever been, a one-trick pony. Thank God. I would get so bored. Figuration to abstract and back again. The varying styles feed off of and inform each other. This is my process. Am I willing to work larger? You bet! My second twin-size-bed canvas now has the beginnings of a figure painting, as does a 4’x8’ panel board. The second 4’x8’ panel board lies in wait. Like I said, I’m good with going big. I'm also experimenting with much larger additions to the Waxing Poetic series. Was my work accepted into the group show? Don't yet know. My guess? Probably not. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I continue to be grateful for the feedback and am motivated by the juicy bits. Thanks to Patricia Cameron, Laura Dillaway, Kerry Itami, Ryan James, Milan Heger, and Dawn Laurant.