The Geographic :: Week Five

Coming home from San Francisco on Monday, I recorded a few videos of the rolling hillsides as we were approaching the hamlet of Valley Ford, also known as home. I was trying to capture the beauty and the blur, so that I could try to paint it later on.

In case you're wondering what we're listening to it's Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate because we're wild and crazy like that. Also, I'm not driving.

 Using new tool to gesso larger canvases. My screen printing squeegee.

Using new tool to gesso larger canvases. My screen printing squeegee.

Last weekend, it felt like my studio was closing in on me. I decided to make good on my idea to move the large 16-cubby bookshelf in my studio to the east side of the 8' x 6' space.

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Moving this bookshelf opened up two walls that will allow me to hang multiple canvases and paint from home more often. As you can see, I do not have a lot of room in my studio, so I had to make good use of this precious wall space the moving of the bookshelf would provide.

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Rearranging the furniture and spaces in my home always has the ability to change my mood and infuse me with a boost of creative energy. When I was done, I felt totally energized after everything was sorted out.


Last week, my professor suggested perhaps going dark on social media in order to further explore this body of work I'm creating. Because I'm such a literal person, I thought I had to completely go dark on social media and that felt uncomfortable. But later on she encouraged me to go dark during my time in class - to just focus on the work and not multi-task with documenting the project at the same time. 

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Now that idea felt more comfortable. It didn't have to be all or nothing as I explore this work in my mind and through my paintings. It could be both, as long as I didn't overthink my way into an emotional tizzy. I still want to share here on the blog and have a record of this journey I'm on this semester. I just need to make good use of my studio time and paint my ass off, so to speak, when I'm there. Wednesday, I did just that.

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I seldom paint at night, but after rearranging the studio, I felt inspired to get out there and spend some time with the seven smaller Valley Ford-inspired paintings that were in progress.

 Color samples + Mark Rothko's White Center circa 1950

Color samples + Mark Rothko's White Center circa 1950

This week was emotionally charged for me, as it was the one year anniversary of Kacy leaving this world on 2/22/17. Last year, when I returned from Las Vegas, I threw myself back into school with a quiet vengeance. In beginning painting, I selected Mark Rothko's White Center and tried my best to copy it.

It was a lot harder than you might think.

It was also meditative and soothing.

It was therapy.

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I ended up making a smaller version on a 11 x 14 inch panel and gifting it to my friend, Caitlin, for the Spring Equinox #recoverygalsartexchange last spring when the theme was EMERGE. You can read more about it and revelations I had during that making process here.

Caitlin reached out this week and mentioned that my current work reminded her of the Rothko-inspired painting I had sent her last year. So I pulled the painting off the wall and set it in the living room. I also went and grabbed the Diebenkorn-influenced landscape I painted last year of the view just outside my studio because I had also wanted to bring it to class for reference.

When I set them side-by-side, I had a BIG revelation.

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If these two paintings had a baby, it would be exactly what I'm trying to create with The Geographic paintings. It would be their LOVE CHILD.

 WIP: No. 1 Dry

WIP: No. 1 Dry

I'm trying to chase a dream with this project. Like, literally. I had a dream late last year wherein I visualized the kind of painting I wanted to paint. Now I know I'm never going to get that exact painting, but it's driving me forward to work hard to figure out how to get there and what methods I need to learn to make it so. I know the color palette. That's one thing I know for sure. I know I want horizontal bands of color. And, that's about all I know for sure, but I think that's enough to start.

The rest will need to unfold.

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In layers.

In the call + response the paintings will elicit from me + from each other.

 The LOVE CHILD in progress: No. 13 Parched + the two older works on the floor that it was born from

The LOVE CHILD in progress: No. 13 Parched + the two older works on the floor that it was born from

In the metamorphosis of the painting process.

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I have two 11 x 14 inch panels going (pictured above) that are made up completely from my leftover paint at the end of the day. One was blank (white) when I started and one was a gradation of color exercise I did last spring as part of the aforementioned #recoverygalsartexchange. 

 WIP: No. 13 Parched + No. 12 Lush

WIP: No. 13 Parched + No. 12 Lush

I tackled the two larger paintings mid-week and my goal was to not overthink it; not document it while I was in process; and to paint with my feelings and not with my head. At the end of the day Wednesday, I felt like I had accomplished all of those goals.

Here's where I'm at the end of this week.

  • No. 13 (left) and No. 12 (right) have several coats of gesso + acrylic.
  • I've penciled in wonky lines to mark off space for the bands of color to go.
  • My professor and I discussed getting a few more large panels so that the paintings can start dialogue-ing with one another.
  • I need to work on my color values for the final top coats and decide if I will keep working in acrylics or switch to oils. To that end, I will be mixing up some greys at home and bringing them to class so that I can jump in a little quicker to the painting process.
  • I'm giving thought to the bands of color. Do I want a high contrast? Or not? Do I want them to be more controlled? Or not? And, why?

I've been thinking about how to create a fuzziness or fogginess with the paintings to help give off the feelings I used to feel when I was drinking. After discussing this with Professor McCain, I think my excess paint panel experiments might be something I need to further explore for this project.

 The panels I'm using to wipe off excess paint from my brushes at the end of the day.

The panels I'm using to wipe off excess paint from my brushes at the end of the day.

They make me really uncomfortable and I don't exactly know why. I do think they are beautiful, in their own way, but they feel so haphazard and messy to me. It feels like cheating somehow. Like I've been careless while painting and not given them much thought at all so they shouldn't be considered for the project. They seem like an accident. This style of painting could definitely tap into the mood and feelings I had while driving home buzzed or drunk over the years. I had an immediate reaction to her suggesting I think about these paintings and what's going on with them. I felt like I wanted to shut down and change the conversation. The feelings our conversation evoked is enough for me to know that I need to examine this further. As usual, she knows her stuff. She's asking so many good questions or me and I'm enjoying the pondering. I know she's onto something with this observation and I can feel it in my bones that it's definitely worth exploring.

I just need time to process and catch up with my feelings. 

And then, I'm sure I'll just need to give myself permission to let go a little (or a lot).