Art Practice

About my art practice–“doing the work”–which ideally is an ongoing discipline of working in the studio, experimenting, and hoping that very interesting things emerge from it without the intention of controlling the outcome.

A Work in Progress.

Here’s something I’ve been working on a bit today–it is not finished! This piece involves a play of warm and cool colors and will include a number of textures as well; I have some modeling paste on this so far and a bit of collage using some papers I painted last year. There are other elements planned for it, but it’s also one of those things where I’m letting it take me where it wants to go. It might look rather different the next time I post about it…

This piece is on canvas, 10″ x 20″ x 1″.

Art journal entry for 12-26-17.

Sometimes Day 2 of a challenge, especially a personal challenge, is a triumph just to get to. I know you understand. Well, here’s today’s experiment, whose only requirement was to incorporate a monoprinting/paint lifting technique. The secondary intention was to continue with the theme of playing “active” and “passive” against each other.

I laid down a base color and added some monoprinting on top of that, and then I worked mainly with palette knife and waxy pastel crayons, going back in with a bit more monoprinting and some stamping.

I can tell that my inner self can have a hard time with calming energetic areas, like the wide passage at the bottom of this piece. I felt that it should run darker than the top half, but did I let it stay too active? I might decide to go back into this and change it. Or I might just move on to the next experiment and then compare them.

Art journaling on 12-24-17.

I’m feeling inspired as a new year approaches, bringing that clean-slate feeling and fresh motivation to get into the studio and be immersed in the work of a steady art practice–working as close to daily as possible and just allowing outcomes to emerge, whatever they are.

I want to keep things simple, staying with themes or concepts longer and mining each one more deeply rather than allow myself to get distracted by too many shiny, new potential directions. It’s so easy to feel guilty about being frequently distracted by new techniques that look fun or supplies that can add visual interest unavailable to your current toolbox, but I now believe that this is actually a natural and inevitable earlier stage in an artist’s development. Even if you feel flighty and unsettled, you really just have to follow the wonders of the new. The ability to focus arrives later.

Some of the things you’ve tried turn out to suit your aesthetic and way of working. Most others you take notes on and file away mentally in case they’re useful at another time. At this point, you can work more intensively with whichever materials, techniques, palette, way of working, style, and so on that you’ve winnowed out. I feel right about this stage of things…it’s a point at which you get less of that FOMO–“fear of missing out”–that can drive you during time(s) of Trying All the Things (it could be that these seeking and mining stages alternate, that we move back and forth between them).

So, art practice: I set up an art journal earlier in the year as a place to experiment, make notes, and do exercises. I intend to work in it several times per week in the new year. Again, the outcome will be whatever it is. Here’s a spread I worked on the other day, experimenting with a narrow, mainly primary-oriented palette and a contrast of “active” and “passive” areas that maintain some kind of connection to each other.