Thursday, July 21, 2005

upside down in reverse

I walked into the studio just behind Gabrielle, who shares the front half of the floor with me. It's stifling hot. One of the first things both of us do is head over to open the window and doors to the fire escape. I turn on the industrial fan just before opening the window. I'm sweating buckets from the bike ride up there and there's a part of me that just wants to flop down on the couch for half an hour just to cool down, but I'm also hyped to get to work.

Gabby and I catch up on how our weekends went, I change into my painting shorts and shirt, put some music on and set up to paint. Waiting for me are two paintings I began last week. Both are in for some changes. I like some of what I did, but they don't quite feel done yet, so I study them for a while, trying to figure out what needs to change and what possible directions I can take them next. I like the look of some of the colors and forms together, but the parts aren't adding up to a whole yet.

Over the past few months, I've been challenging myself to push past what I was doing last year and the three years before that. Mainly, this means embracing a wider range of mark-making and color choices. All of which I'm very happy to do. However, there's the issue of getting what's inside of my head onto the canvas. I'm continuing with pictorial ideas that include various gridded forms placed in front of one another. There's ten or so paintings on the wall behind the easel that I'm constantly refering to for ideas to use in the newer paintings. I use the older paintings to jump start the newer pieces. I look a them and mentally pick them apart to see what I can use and if I can use some of the older ideas in a different way.

There's a constant dialogue between the newer paintings and the older ones. I try to not repeat myself too much and attempt to find any way I can to break apart what I did previously and re-make it in new ways. That's one of the biggest challenges I have as a painter; how many ways can I take a core idea and re-invent it from painting to painting until I feel it's potential is exhausted? The experimentation is great, but the paintings have to stand up on thier own. The ideas contained on the surfaces must be clear, even if they don't seem to be so upon the first viewing.

The paintings I worked on today are causing me to reconsider some ideas I have about a 'finished' composition. The forms I'm using now are much more open than previously and much less centered in place; lines and colors are moving all over the place. I let some areas build up with an accumulation of marks while others are flat and let the eye rest a bit before being taken up into more activity. The flow of information is continual and the possibilities seemingly endless. Through this process, I'm trying to let go of a default painting ideology I accumulated over the past few years and embrace more readily the open-ended spirit of the new paintings.
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