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Posts tagged Conceptions

Post-Painting Depression

I’m back in Portland, Oregon, from my six-week Nevada sojourn. But I haven’t unpacked my big linen canvases yet. I am almost afraid to do so, fearing that they are completely banal, hence total failures (banality is worse for me than bad).

In part, this reluctance has to do with various coming home challenges — burst pipes, unreliable contractors, relatives using the house in unexpected and unnerving ways. But in part, it’s simply because I don’t know what I did, although I am fairly certain I did not manage to un-orient, and my feeble attempts merely feel like they may be so feeble as to look feeble-minded.

Well, you see where I am. I began last February and March, 2009, living with the desert and Beatty, Nevada, painting small masonite panels, getting to know the territory and its inhabitants. This November sojourn, however, was more limited and almost entirely devoted to the Amargosa, which became more and more fascinating as I spent 6-8 hours a day, alone with the scene, for the full month of November.

So here are photos of the seven panels, plus the full panorama. These were taken as the panels were still on the wall of the Red Barn, under under limited lighting conditions. The exception is the full panorama, which was lit andphotographed by professional photographer, David Lancaster.

I am showing these in part to bolster my own sense of dignity and/or bravado.

panel1WjouUnoriented Amargosa (panel 1, east), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009

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Unoriented/ Oriented: Painting the Desert

This is a double posting,  ruminations from Day 29 of my Residency at the Goldwell Open Air Art Museum. So if you’re reading the residency journal, this is all old news.  And it’s really an essay ruminating about the experience during the last few days of our stay. I will almost certainly publish images of the final result of the painting when there is a final result. But this is mostly just thinking, ruminating, rummaging.

I told Jer this morning that I should be able to “finish” these canvases in another two days. Tonight I’m not so sure. But I’m not going to show any more photos of them until I’m fairly confident that I’ve done as much as I can see to do. The panorama  does have a name, which for me means it’s close to being done. I’m calling it “Unoriented: The Amargosa Desert.”

I spent an hour this afternoon (when my eyes and brain could no longer deal with painting itself) reflecting on what I had wanted to achieve and what factors were involved in getting me to this stage of the work. I wrote these “reflections” down in my notebook, knowing that by this evening I’d be totally clueless as to what I was thinking at 2:30 PM.

It’s very nice to have a handsome notebook, even though when I read back through this month’s entries, I often haven’t a clue what I was talking about.

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Sloppy Craft: It’s Getting Interesting….

The phrase, “Sloppy Craft”, the title of a recent panel discussion and a forthcoming exhibition at Portland’s Contemporary Crafts Museum, had to be checked out. Whatever could it mean? How could the Contemporary Crafts Museum have been drawn into featuring sloppiness? What kind of provocation was intended by the title? What are the implications of honoring such a concept as sloppy craft for art as well as craft?  Tell me more, tell me more.

A bit of background: when I was working textiles, I regularly engaged in a “discussion” with quilters (some traditional, some contemporary) about whether the stitching work done on my textiles ( specifically in construction and quilting) should strive for perfection. I always maintained that my goal was “competence.” My attention was entirely on the image and impact (on, I maintained, the art).  The craft was there only to hold it together and/or to add to the art. Hence my seams were not necessarily straight and the back of the art was decent but not flawless (I didn’t bury my threads, for example, simply tidied them). I used the quilting stitches as part of the design, which meant that they were generally not even in length and that they were heavy in places and light in others; this can make the quilted art hang wonkily, requiring heroic measures to make it perform well.

This is an example of a old piece of mine that I claim has “competent” craft:

SophieEmergingwSophie, Emerging, 84 x 73″, 2002, Materials: hand-painted cotton, canvas, silk, stretch-polyester, felt. Methods: hand- painted-and-dyed, airbrushed and commercial fabrics. Machine stitched.

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The Small Project: A Cautionary Tale

On August 23 I finished the seven-panel plein air oils of The Diamond Grade. On September 10, I’m still working on putting together a small card with a fold-out version of the panorama. This is a project I thought to complete in a couple of hours. Instead, it’s taken weeks.

There was the question of the size of the images. And the paper onto which they would be printed. And which printer. And then it was clear that without some kind of cover, the images, folded into rectangles, looked a bit like the notes I passed to friends as a  sixth-grader. So I had to find a cover. And then the images sprang open inside the cover, so I had to find a way to fasten the cover, a way which could be undone and redone, without too much damage. I had a bunch of Moo cards that I am currently enamored of that I wanted to include somehow.

Here’s the photo essay of the process:

The original strip of images:


After trying out samples of 3″ and 4″ sizes on my HP ink jet printer and 2″ sizes on my Epson pigment printer, which actually could handle up to 24-inch wide strips, I decided to go with Kinko’s laser printing service.

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Corners of the City — Some text about some painting

The Jolly Roger Bar, 12th and Madison. Oil on board, 12 x 16″

As you know, I’ve been painting around Portland, here and there, returning often to sites to note what else is there, what I may have missed, what more is available for turning into paint.

These paintings have a certain “feel” to them — a style that fits with the record of my visits. I work on-site and then tweak and fiddle in the studio. I also find myself making larger, stranger, studio-begot contributions to the sets of pieces.

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