Paintings, 2014

2015-07-27 22.29.072014 was not a good year for making art. We moved into a new house, with a studio space. A very large studio space, a separate building on the property. We packed (and looked for housing and sold our house) from January to July. We moved July 3 and spent July through November fixing the “new” house. And unpacking. And putting things away. And then rearranging the things that we had put away.

My new space, while huge and functional, was not finished — raw flooring (particle board), raw walls (sheet rock) raw ceiling (insulation). The bathroom, while a great upgrade on my old studio which had no such facility, had no molding around the door. The muck-out sink was a mess from the woodworker who used the place before I got there. The lights were flickering and/or not functioning. In short, from November through February, I worked on the studio.

StudioFeb22015EastEast side of studio, as of February 2.

StudioFeb22015westWest side of the studio as of February 2. Note that this is a 2 dimensional view: the actual imaged space is about 35 feet long. The “east side” (with its floor to be painted) is 15 more feet. A big space.

So, it’s been a long year. However, sandwiched in and around this year of moving and fixing and painting and moving some more, I managed to do a tiny bit of work. Some of it was on canvases with other paintings. The one that was most finished when I started into it in 2014 became an abstract that we put up in our dining room:

AbstractOne2014WLAbstract One 2014, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2014

This was a painting that I had already begun using the color shaper (a kind of spatula) on, and I so enjoyed the ribbon-like marks it made that I’m continuing to find ways to play with that tool. Although my memory is a bit vague, I think this painting originated in the formations around Jerome, Arizona.

The next definitely originated in Jerome imagery, although it was far less developed when I began working on it this fall.

AbstractTwo2014WLAbstract Two 2014, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2014

This oil painting provided a satisfying accompaniment to the first one; it hangs in our new living room. It started as a play on the stairs of Jerome Arizona, which mimic the land formations of that region, including the Mogollon Rim which can be seen across the Verde Valley below Jerome. But it quickly morphed taking on new shapes and movements.

It was about this painting that one of the workmen, walking through the living room, remarked , “Busy, ain’t it.”

I was sitting at the table, and I’m not sure he knew I was there.

“So am I,” I said, just a bit tartly. Jer hastened to add, “She painted it.”

The conversation went on from there.

In late fall, I took a workshop, kind of a masters play time, with Bill Park, a Portland painter. For a number of reasons, I decided to work in acrylics. After doing studies with the medium for a day or two, I brought in a large rolled blank canvas and began on the next painting. It is not quite finished, and in fact, it may not be in its original orientation when I finish with it:

TheGreenGreenHillsOfHome2014WLThe Green Green Hills of Home, about 60 x 60 inches, acrylic on canvas, 2014

My color shaper doesn’t work the same with acrylic paint, but acrylic has other advantages, the principle one being that it’s easier to transport a dry canvas of that size. This one began with a large figure and went on from there. There is one place that I intend to work on further, but I’m not saying where. And I’m thinking it may end up oriented like this:

TheGreenGreenHillsOfHome2014RotateRtWLThe Green Green HIlls of Home, rotated right

Finally, on the easel at this moment, sunk into that pile of furnishings moved so the second half of the floor can be painted, is one more abstract that I’m hoping to get to — soon.

AbstractThree2014-15WLAbstract Three 2015 (in progress), 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2015

I’m thinking of adding a couple of “bars” of cadmium red, horizontally, in places across the canvas (cadmium red is the red-toward-yellow basic paint, as opposed to alizarin red, which is the red-toward-blue). Until I try that, I’m not sure where this canvas is going. Nor when, for that matter.

But the studio is slowly being civilized, with painted sheet rock and painted floor, and a tamed bathroom, with molding on its door frames. The lights are all functioning and almost perfect. The new storm door can be kept open all day, and even in January, opening the big “garage” doors in the middle of the day was possible. This is a space in which even I can’t feel closed-in. If one is a busy person, one needs lots of space to roam.

June

David Hockney at the de Young, Part 3

hockneypainting1David Hockney David Hockney working on The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), Version 3, 2011

The Exhibit Design

I mentioned the design of the Hockney exhibit earlier. I don’t know if Hockney was personally involved in the placement of the works although he has sometimes,¬†as with the Royal Academy exhibit in 2012, accepted exhibit invitations because of the presentation possibilities.

In any case, it was a huge exhibit, 398 pieces of art, and according to the de Young website, was under the curation and design direction of Gregory Evans.¬† Beginning with the sly confrontation of The Massacre: The Problem of Depiction, the exhibit seemed to be designed to walk the viewer through the problem of what Hockney calls “pictures.” It was not chronological in any sense; it placed pictures painted in the same place, sometimes together, and sometimes not, but, at least in the landscape section, the viewer was moved inexorably in the direction of larger and larger depictions.

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The Project from Hell

The project from hell is the one that has at least 27 more steps to it than initially envisioned, and each step consists of 1 step forward followed fairly quickly by 1.9999 (or sometimes 4.999999) back.

So, take 20 miles of a dry lake bed, Summer Lake, seen in September from a relatively inaccessible spot on Winter Ridge approximately 250 miles from home.

SunriseWithCloudsThen add in a decision to use cedar planks from an torn-down homestead from the Playa Art Residency compound as surfaces to paint the irresistible 20-mile panorama on.

StackedBoardCroppedwl

 

[The pile of planks, fondly patted, until reality set in.]

Continue, on arriving back in Portland, with the questions of how much to sand the 2″ thick planks (after the initial grinding off the nubbins at Playa), with what to seal them (white gesso, clear gesso, linseed oil, Liquin), and what paints (acrylic, oil, transparent, opaque) wouldl use the wood grain most advantageously.

SandingDecisionsWLL

Sampling PossibleSandingsPaintsSealingsWllThen throw a minor surgery to the mix, and you find yourself dealing with The Holidays, after which or in and around which, Decisions Must Be Made.

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