I will be a guest artist for a two day session with the Art and Soul Critique Group in Albuquerque, next week on August 10, 11. This is a new experience for me and probably it is for them also. All of the members are advanced painters. I’ve been thinking about this delightful opportunity as I have painted in my studio over the past few weeks. What direction shall I go? They have asked for individual critiques and a demo. It will be a pleasure to see their recent works and talk to them about what I see. Looking at art is eye candy for me even when the images are disturbing or challenging.
I “go at” making art from a myriad of starting points so what shall I demonstrate? I can’t guarantee that I will reliably arrive at a finished work in the time we are together. Commonly, I have a selection of works-in-progress in my studio; oftentimes as many as 20 of them. I put one on my drafting table, work for awhile, set it aside and work on another, set it aside and work on another. I work with the hope that from time to time one lets me know it is finished. Historically that happens. This is a selection of “starts” I have in the studio:
The one below intrigues me, it has possibilities. It has several layers of paint and a layer of collage on it so far. I could easily add another layer of paint. A good cruciform design is developing. It has some good red which is making me think of the fabulous geraniums I have on my front porch. The text in some of the collage papers is too strong, it needs to be knocked down some, so I will plan to glaze some color over those papers, maybe even obliterate some of the text.
Often a work-in-progress “draws me in” during one of the sessions when I have worked on it, gripping me and not letting me quit until it reaches completion. It is exceedingly rare for me to start an image and progress in a linear/rational direction from the beginning to a finished painting.
The one below interests me also, maybe because of the red in the center, but this one is way too mushy for me. It needs a lot of work…..it will be a painting eventually. Sometimes I have to get tough when I’m coaxing the papers along: “You dirty rascal, you WILL give me a painting, I’m not letting up, I may have to let you rest but you’re a special work-in-progress, and later on we’ll continue to work! Count on it!” I’m reminded that Katherine Chang Liu says she sometimes wrestles her paintings to the ground!
I will probably gather up a stack of these works-in-progress to take with me and trust that one will make it to completion as I work on it in the presence of the critique group. Perhaps we will paint/collage together and a dialog will develop about what I’m doing on my image and why and what I hope to accomplish.
I plan to share with them one of my favorite quotations from Robert Rauschenberg: “I like to have the maximum lack of control so things can happen that I can’t think of.” It’s the thinking part that often obstructs the creative process. Accessing the non-rational, non-verbal, creative, intuitive, spiritual part of the brain feels like “the maximum lack of control,” but I have learned that it is a trustworthy process. It allows something powerful and creative to have control and extraordinary things happen.
I hope to encourage the painters in their individual approaches to painting. If they don’t paint the paintings they uniquely have in them, who will enrich the world with those paintings? Ingrid Bergman said, “Be yourself, the world loves an original.” She right! After all, “ART IS ART! and everything else is everything else!” (Ad Rhinehardt said that.)