I have just finished an intensive (and intense) 5-day workshop in plein air landscape painting. Later, I may indulge myself and talk about the entire process and the 3 locations we painted at, but for this post I’d like to pose a question which comes out of just one location. The question I’m posing is how does one transfer the knowledge gained in doing one piece of art to her general practice? More specifically, how can I hang onto the insights that my instructor helped me gain and use them when I’m working on my own?
The specifics: On Wednesday we painted at the Willamette River waterfront, in a piece of waste ground, just to one side of the Interstate 405 (Fremont) Bridge as it rises over the river. One humongous stanchion was no more than 10 feet from my painting spot. The roar of the traffic was absolutely constant; it was only maddening if you tried to talk to someone. The field was dusty but large, the sun quite warm, the wind constant, and although there were city amenities beyond us on all sides, a chain link fence and heavily trafficed road cut us off. It was a total enveloping environment, not necessarily unpleasant if you sank into it.
That was Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, we moved the art school’s painting studio and worked on projects based on one of the plein air pieces. I chose to enlarge upon images and ideas that I gathered from the Under-the-Underpass experiences.
Fremont Bridge 1, photo, June 2008
As mentioned last week, I’ve been re-examining my photography in terms of some ideas from Japanese aesthetics. In practical terms, that means I’ve been going out and looking differently at subjects. For example, I’ve tried to be more aware of views involving negative space along Sourdough Trail, my main project of the moment.
Allow me to report on my progress, or lack of it, with the question and answer theme.
The idea has been to create a chain form, corresponding to a sequence of events; in this case questions and answers.
Scattered about my workplace are various takes on the letters “a” and “q”, done up in a number of fonts, sizes and materials. These have been strung together in attempts to find the right combination of variety, legibility and sparkle.
Early attempts emphasized strong interactions of color and form. They were entertaining, but the underlying call and response theme that I was after tended to get lost in the visual noise.
In this iteration I’m trying to standardize somewhat by choosing block letter forms and a monochrome finish. Last I counted there were three of each letter, which when tied together creates a tight mass.
Pursuing my two favorite motifs, water and the anatomy of movement, I started making composites, extracting from one image and pasting onto another.
Showing the first version of this composite to a mentor, he questioned me about shadows.
Old musings on recent photography have led to the resurrection of a completely different series I thought I’d given up on. Just last week I deleted a draft from March that I had started in excitement, but never finished because I couldn’t make the pictures work.
The thoughts were on Japanese aesthetics, and the abandoned series was a rather minimalistic one, captured in all of 15 minutes near the start of a Yellowstone outing during which I later busted my aging ski gear, cutting the trip short (I managed to limp out with frequent falls, discovering in the process that it’s not easy getting up from soft, deep snow when your skis are higher than you are).
Looking back through the years, I do not remember when I started painting with oils and watercolors… maybe I was about 13. To be honest mostly of I know today has come from my own experiences of try and error.
To me, making a painting was never an issue but something that happens naturally with whatever materials come to my hands. Oils are my favorites, but recently I’ve been painting in a very quick method and found out that a mixture of acrylics, oils, glitter and others mediums work better for my new style.
In the past 3 years I decided to do a Fine Art degree as a nice “add on” to my previous qualifications. To my disappointment, I have learn nothing new but of a chaotic, hypocrite and delusional world from the Art teachers.
If you an artist with already some success and experience I recommend you to aim higher and not to go back to an educational institution. You see, despite your good intentions you setting yourself back and giving your own murder sentence to the chances of being ‘stepped on’ and muffled by the tutors, who also called themselves artists. You must have no previous artistic experience because no matter how you try to please and befriend this so called “artist teachers” you will always be seen as a threat rather than a student.
Unfortunately we live in a world that demands all this qualifications to be taken seriously. I have learned from my own mistakes, maybe because I was a bit naïve, full of dreams and hopes that a new qualification would push my career further, but realize that I brought this to myself to the point I had nothing but verbal abuse, bullying, harassment, intimidation and discrimination from lecturers. In the end I felt from as high I dreamed and have gain nothing but a new pretty BA words in my cv and an awful demoralizing experience I must rather forget!
More new painting in my redesigned website www.magicpaintings.com
The other day I was turned down as an applicant to a local art co-op. I was applying as a painter, not a textile artist, had made the first cut, and was asked in for an interview. After the interview, the group decided I should “try again next year.”
Aside from the obvious reasons for the rejection (the quality of the work itself and splits of taste within the co-op group), I realized that I had gone to the interview unprepared for what I found.
The Co-op saw the interview as an application for an exhibit or a job; I saw it as an act of collegiality and a conversation.
Here’s a review of the process and my thinking about it.
I was told to bring some of my “most recent work” (which I interpreted as “most raw”), so I pulled out a pleine aire, a few days old.
Quiznos Subs, Prineville, Oregon