Year Long Canvas Project #8

 

her2 Year Long Canvas Challenge, Week 8, copyright 2014, Jo Ann Brown-Scott – untitled

Time flies when you are having fun – here we are at week 8 – about 44 or so to go. (for you new followers thank you so much for coming aboard, and please refer to my archives for an explanation of the Year Long Canvas Challenge).

And as of now, she has totally lost her original identity. The old “year-long” as we remember her is nearly gone. She is in the witness protection program hoping for an entirely new start.

Yesterday was CRAAAzy. She took off out of the blue and left me in the dust….the canvas I mean. I believe the mood in the classroom was partly responsible – people were laughing and talking as they painted, and some were  actually told to dial it down and be quiet. But see what good energy was unleashed as a result? Silence is over-rated.

She has gotten a life of her own. My head was spinning. I was out of breath, trying to keep up with what she was telling me to do….yelling at me! Commanding me.

She is all up in my face about wanting to be FREE.

She told me that last week’s additions were pretty much OK  but she wants more – she wants to have it all.

Color, line, rhythm, movement, sensuality. Mystery! A message! Is she asking me for calligraphy….???

So what is all that going on in the left-center of the composition? All the shapes, and the dots and the compartments of color and black? Even a couple or three triangular flag shapes….HUH?

I believe it has something to do with the week I have had – a week of LIFE issues, the kind everyone has – and all the compartments I place them in. There was a death, the announcement of a pending birth in the family, a bit of drama I will not go into, a health thing, an amazing dream and even more. I watched a cute kid in the park flying a kite – a flag? I see the whirl of the wind in the composition – and chaos. It is all a big Rorschach image – you see what you want to see. And if you are not seeing anything much at all except bold color, that is also just fine.

So I had fun in class yesterday – my esteemed instructor, Homare Ikeda, likes it and he and I both threw out some suggestions – I tried a couple of them in this newest incarnation and covered one up already. Three steps forward, one back.

It is almost May and I am trying my best to be carefree. So far it seems to be working.

Advertisements

Singapore, George Clooney, the Arctic Circle and Food

lunch    monk     paellaguy0ne    fishguy

panda    jump    urn    photo 5

Tomorrow is my Monday art class – advanced abstract expressionism. If you are following you know by now that I have been offered the odd assignment of working on one canvas for an entire year. Oh I do other canvases too, but I use one of them as a 365 day continuing, living breathing project that I vow to keep working on whether I want so badly to finish it or not. Yes I accepted the challenge. Yes I sometimes feel that I am nuts to have done so. You have read all of my speculation about the why’s and wherefores of this project (check my archives) – I am sure you could offer some new ideas I have not yet considered about the lessons to be learned from doing this.

What I do know for sure is that I am not a person who gives up easily or is likely to give it anything less than my best effort. I believe that when you commit to something you keep at it until it is no longer for the good of any one thing or person – it has turned sour, in other words. I don’t foresee that happening with this project – there is just so much to be learned from it.

But I do want to think about other things besides THE CANVAS. It is a big world out there and whatever I choose to fill my free time will support, inform, guide and feed my art projects – all of them. I am working on several things at once, parallel with THE CANVAS. Life goes on, all around them.

Today some of my thoughts are on Singapore, for instance, and a trip I made there last fall. I cannot get Singapore and Bangkok off my mind – in a good way. I miss them. I want to go back. I learned a lot while there. The entire journey was eye candy for me, but I also learned a lot about Asian people, Asian food, legends, Buddhism,Monks and relic tooths and Jim Thompson textiles and silk worms, temples and markets and the Asian art of foot massage. What an exotic trip. Thanks to my lovely daughter who was my tour guide, and knows the area well, my simple mind was loaded up with layers of complexity. That is what travel does.

I am also thinking about that rascal George Clooney, who is astoundingly, enthusiastically and actually voluntarily engaged to a lovely woman who is finally, I believe, a person with brains as well as beauty. For all of us (girls mostly) who have been fascinated with him from afar, this is something that has captured our attention. This will be interesting, watching the progression, from sworn, dyed-in-the-wool bachelor to husband……would love to have been a fly on the wall when gorgeous George changed his mind and had his epiphany.

One of the best meals I ever ate was at the Turkish café pictured above, located in the Arab Street section of Singapore. I am thinking about food (I am starving and ready for a meal right now) and how it unites us all in its never-ending daily preparation ritual. You are fortunate to have it and lucky be you if you can enjoy the luxury of  choice, answering your cravings and satisfying your palette. If you have a well stocked pantry, I consider you wealthy. If you ever watch the National Geograhic TV show called “Living Below Zero” about Americans who live near the Arctic and must hunt caribou, bears, fish, goats etc , for survival, you are probably as impressed as I am with their strength and courage. Their pantries are well stocked or not depending upon weather, ammunition, deadly accurate shots and absolute luck, plus their own ability to trek way out into the wild and cut up and haul back whatever they shoot. I know that I could never do that.

Back to George Clooney – he does great things in Africa. And she is a brilliant lawyer based in London who deals in Humanitarian issues. Perfect.

Aren’t you fascinated by what other people do?

 

Year Long Canvas Project #7 – Time for a Bold Move

721class  before   orange  after

Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous outside – spring in all of its SPRINGY glory. I wanted to take a walk and go play in the out of doors. But I attended my usual Monday art class. When I arrived I can’t say that I was really into a painting mood, but I know from experience that when your mind is NOT fully engaged and you are thinking about other things, it can actually work to your advantage. You don’t over-think – you don’t question yourself – you have kind of a WTF attitude. That can bring a looser approach and a less contrived work session. But in spite of that mood, class was stimulating, energy sapping and intense – but in a good way. Some students were painting for upcoming shows. Some were painting the same kinds of things they have been painting for months now with little variation. Others were doing fascinating work that I greatly admire. A few were barely painting at all…

In some future post I will talk about the situation in an art class, any art class, which predictably involves some students who aspire to paint as precisely like the instructor as they can – they want to be clones. They do not or cannot bring an original idea or concept to the table. (On second thought I will just leave it at that, because I don’t ever want to make a habit of bashing other people’s work…)

I set up camp. I am working on 3 canvases now at the same time, but the Year Long canvas has gained a reputation and people now know it by name, and they stop by to visit HER each week, checking on progress. I am assigning it a gender now, don’t ask me why. I just don’t like calling the canvas an “IT”. The first photo at the top of this post is how the canvas looked at the mid-point of yesterday’s class, with new work done in several areas. The changes made include the subtle definition of oval shapes in the upper right with a wash of pale peach tones and in the center area I defined 3 oval shapes in the Naples yellow, then another larger oval to the left of that. Why? Because it was time to begin some definition…some type of direction defined by shapes. No, I do not know where I am going with it just yet. Then I whitened up the slash of white that runs from the lower left across the center toward the upper right. I also added more purple tones to the upper left area, overlapped some areas with additional turquoise. I am improvising – abstract expressionism is all about improvisation. The paint does speak to you – it tells you what to do next. You learn to read what the paint has said, either in its texture, tone, shade, shape, color, or line.

At that point my instructor stopped by to offer his input. I told him I felt that the painting needed some type of bold move – a big jolt – for these reasons:

1) the art needs something unpredictable and incongruent to shake things up within the whole

2) I need to give myself something brand new to deal with, because of course adding a thing like that immediately effects everything else, and it keeps me from getting bored by offering me a self-imposed problem to work through

3) a bold change would contribute greater sophistication, an element of surprise, eccentricity and complexity if it is used effectively

4) ultimately the goal would be to take the composition from mediocrity and predictability toward  excellence and individuality

He totally agreed. He said it was time. I suggested a large area of flat, unapologetic strong color. Orange in fact, because there is already a bit of orange splashed around the composition. He liked that choice. I also said I wanted the area of orange to be placed in the lower right quadrant of the composition – he agreed. He and I talked….he threw out some additional ideas and I did too. He and I discussed the challenge of the 365 days  ahead of me – and the probability that nearing year’s end the paint will have gotten so thick that it inhibits the artist’s options. For instance perhaps you want to make a line, for direction and emphasis, which I actually love to do, and yet you cannot do that because the surface has gotten too bumpy with paint buildup that you cannot create a convincing straight line. So you have to adjust to that, as well as a lot of other things. I am only into month 2 as of this writing. Can I do this? Do I really WANT to do this? What is it going to get me, in the  long run? I have had so damn many “character building” experiences in my life – do I need this too? I hope it doesn’t sour me on painting as it builds up my character. I don’t want the art to become a chore.

You see the “before” and the  “after” – remember it is just a start of orange.

I really like it, but it is not a big enough change for my taste, so I may decide to enlarge the orange a bit more or honor and enhance a second area with it’s presence.

 

My Make Believe Abstract World

PHONEPHOTOS 022    PHONEPHOTOS 020

Two photos turned upside down, offering abstraction.

 

Don’t become overly enamored with nature. Don’t fall in love with another artist’s work. Don’t be mesmerized by a photograph. Your painting is not there. (Robert Bissett)

Apparently I live in a world of make believe and knowing – I have never told anyone.

As an artist – an artist who paints abstractly – I thought it was a normal thing. I paint what I imagine, what I believe and sometimes what I know for sure. I paint essences – who I might choose to love, what I love, what I think, what I do, what others do and even what we all do not do. I paint what I know to be true in my own world.

I cannot speak for your world because although we might see the same things, we do not see things the same. This is the essence of all art – even realism. Your realism is not exactly mine, mine is not really yours. What you might select as an image taken directly from life, just as it is, capturing a moment in time, could still seem to be an interpretation to me.

When I turn a realistic photograph or painting upside down or sideways I see an abstraction, and that is always my preference. It is an involuntary response. I see things differently.

Recently a good friend hung a very old painting of mine on an aubergine purple wall – I saw it new for the first time. In it I saw previews of growth that has happened since I painted it. And I see essences  in my art – art done years ago – that I now finally understand. I might have been clueless at the time it was painted, but the message was inside me somewhere. Maybe I was incubating it, waiting for its birth some fine day when I was ready to meet it and read. My instructor, Homare Ikeda, at Denver Art Students League says that all the paintings we are ever going to do are already inside us, and when you think about it, of course they are. I sort of imagine them, all stacked up like messages, each waiting for its message to be sent out to the universe. Is that a weird thought? Maybe not.

STING, my favorite song writer and singer, admits that lyrics he wrote many years ago are just recently understood. By him. For instance, the well known song he wrote titled FRAGILE is now heard by many as a tribute to the victims of the  World Trade Center events of 9/11 – seemingly written for them – for us –  years before it happened.

People are containers for countless feelings and premonitions and “knowings”. Art is a way to bring them to the surface and capture them. That is the essence of abstract art – it is more than the way the paint is applied, more than the shapes, more than the  daring innovation. It is a communication from the deep. Of course it is – it has to be.

Welcome to my world.

Return to a Place

newestpics 050

This weekend, as my beloved Rocky Mountains tip-toe lightly into SPRING, careful to sidestep any more major snow and wind events,  I was fortunate enough to return to a favorite mountain hideaway. A place isolated from the circus of everyday life; up a long, lethargic driveway, meandering around Aspen groves and pines, hidden high on a sunny south slope enfolded by trees, commanding a place of importance under gigantic rocky outcroppings. This place is a sanctuary for me and I am its’ grateful guest. In my absence of six hard winter months, I dreamed often of its hand-worked beauty and primitive silence. It is a place like no other. When I could not sleep I would wander its rooms, imagining how strongly the wind was rattling the roof, wondering how many mice families were frolicking there, riding out the winter in its relatively balmy interior. Hoping no trees were uprooted. Looking forward to seeing the wildflowers that were planted last summer just outside the kitchen door.

I have spoken before of the significance of PLACE. If you are someone who has an extraordinary place to go to – one that gives you back your sanity and holds the rest of the world at more than an arm’s length for you as you regroup – well – if you have that you are indeed blessed. This special place need not be grand; it could be a humble chair in a tiny space by a fire, could be a beach, a trek, a restaurant, a cabin, an art studio or a journey to St. Peter’s Basilica. But if it always without fail gives you the gift of peace and comfort, it is a home place.

Walking in the door was like returning from an enforced confinement somewhere else. A home without a family comes alive again when a door is finally opened, after long days and nights signifying nothing but the passage of time on empty rooms, and people arrive.  Everything looked bright in the noon sun. The dust motes danced in swirls as we entered, instantly transforming the stagnant internal climate with our human presence. Piles of dead bugs were neatly arranged in corners as if they all knew where the graveyard was and went there when the end was in sight. Cobwebs swinging like iridescent threads with the breeze of our movements, the smell of powdery, dry dust – it was all perfect. We smiled and embraced the beauty.

Getting water back in the pipes. Turning on the heat. Cleaning the bugs out of the sinks and bathtubs, then discovering a small bathroom window that had been accidentally left half open all winter long! Through record-breaking snows and roaring wind racing through the pines at break-neck speed this window gave old man Winter access to the house. Why didn’t a raccoon tear through the screen seeking warm shelter? I wonder how much snow had piled up on that floor….what the temperature plummeted to in that area of the house – mysteries we will never have answers to.

A builder of fine homes once told me that houses need people in them – they deteriorate rapidly when they are empty for long stretches of time. The materials that go into the construction and the interior finishes need the warmth and humidity that people provide, doing all the things that people do. Cooking, washing clothes, taking showers – all that and more is what houses need. Houses are almost alive. Wood needs to breathe. Call me crazy but I firmly believe that houses need love, laughter and conversation too. If you do not believe that houses have a heart, a soul, and a need for human companionship then I am sorry for you – you have missed a key point somewhere along the road of life. Several of my very best friends have been magnificent old houses, weathered, wrinkled and wise…

Your special place need not be a house, of course. The discovery is yours. But do find yourself a unique footprint that you can return to for re-fueling. It will keep you sane, prolong your life, listen intently to your thoughts and that place will watch for your frequent return.

The Year Long Canvas Project #6 – Going Postal

photo414

Year Long Canvas installment #6, copyright 2014,  Jo Ann Brown-Scott

When a painter is working he is aware of the means which are available to him – these include his materials, the style he inherits, the conventions he must obey, his prescribed or freely chosen subject matter – as constituting both an opportunity and a restraint. (John Berger)

Well today is Monday, class day. As you can plainly see for yourself, something snapped today. I broke out, flipped out, escaped the status quo, threw caution to the wind and decided I would add color with wild abandon. Whether you like it or not, you can be sure it is a temporary transitional composition, and it will not survive a year. Undoubtedly it will lead to something else. But it has successfully  taken things in a more chaotic, but controlled progression, more free-spirited and bold, so perhaps the lesson this week is that I have set a tone and decided I will not allow this image to be boring. I will not allow old age to rob its energy….even after a long long year.

In case you had not noticed, I worked on the painting in the upside down orientation from before – I just turned is on its head and solved the problem of the vast void at the top of the canvas that I mentioned in the last #5 post. So that issue has been solved. It still has its rhythm, but lots more color. Splatters and lines are a favorite of  mine and those have multiplied to help fill the void. I didn’t want to lose the giant swoop, the swish, the motion of the composition – and it is still there in spite of the fact that we flipped it – the swoosh  may be sacrificed and disappear at some point for the betterment of the whole thing but for now it remains.

That’s about it for this week – I have finished 2 other canvases this week  that were way more fun to work on than this one. And as a bonus, my esteemed instructor, Homare Ikeda, likes them. Sorry to say that one of the side effects of this year long project is that it is too academic for me, too restrained. I like my freedom!

I am a bird in a gilded cage, and actually I have no complaints. I feel fortunate to be there and I am singing.

 

 

All Your Perfect Imperfections

trunkbumps  

Tree photo from Muir Woods – John Legend photo courtesy of http://www.2flashgames.com

John Legend, the apparently legendary singer who had escaped my radar until recently, has a new hit song that offers a  brilliant message in its lyrics. I find myself playing it over and over again in my mind… The title of the song is “All of Me”, and I enjoy it because it is a gorgeous ballad, a love song, but one that tells it like it really is. But I also like it because it seems to apply so well to us creative types….and we are a weird and rowdy bunch, are we not? We have a love-hate relationship with our gifts of creativity.  Our gifts are the good news but sometimes the bad news too, since they constantly scream at us for attention and nurturing. They demand so much of us. And we love what we do but we are sometimes riddled with doubt. We wonder. We question. We get exhausted with our own damn selves. You all know who you are, and so read on……this song is for you:

Partial Lyrics from the John legend Song titled “ALL OF ME”

What would I do without your smart mouth?

Drawin’ me in and you kickin’ me out

You got my head spinnin’

No kiddin’

I can’t pin you down.

 

What’s going on in that beautiful mind?

I’m on your magical mystery ride

And I’m so dizzy

Don’t know what hit me

But I’ll be alright.

 

My head’s underwater but I’m breathin’ fine

You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

Cuz all of me loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections…

 

That’s not all of the song.

The song goes on and on. The part about all your perfect imperfections is my favorite – because we all are that. We all have these wild-ass quirks and glaring flashing neon irregularities that can be both charming and infuriating, depending upon the day and the situation. You just have to keep them all in balance so you don’t cut off your ear or jump off a bridge. Those kinds of artists are in fact, LEGENDARY. You see documentaries about them which isn’t at all a bad thing, actually. But most of us do manage to keep our imperfections and issues in a workable balance while occasionally, yes indeedy, well of course, hell yes, using them for leverage, individuality and recognition . They are almost like tools – they can be milked.

Oh and how many of you writers and artists feel as if your head is underwater on various occasions but you somehow manage to breathe just fine – that happens to me when I paint. I am cut off from the real world in some kind of liquid otherworldly place where there is no space or time or air and yet I am somehow breathing pure oxygen. Getting high on it.

Getting back to the love song aspect, lucky be you if you find a person that loves all of yours – your perfect imperfections. Your eccentricities.  They won’t always love yours, every single minute all the time, but even if they just love yours more of the time than they do not love them, you are a winner. Of course they need to remember that they have their own set of wacky things too, some far more wacky than the ones you have, so it needs to be reciprocal. But Holy Cow don’t start debating which of you has more…..there’s no winning that game.

But then as I often say, you probably knew all that.

And PS – this is my 120th blog post and many thanks to all of you for following and occasionally stopping by!