Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MIxed Up Face 2015

Lowbrow, or lowbrow art,[1] describes an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970s. It is a populist art movement with its cultural roots in underground comix, punk music, and hot-rod cultures of the street. It is also often known by the name pop surrealism. Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor – sometimes the humor is gleeful, sometimes impish, and sometimes it is a sarcastic comment.     Wikipedia

At the Yuma Art Symposium last week, I went to a talk by a ceramic artist named Max Lehman   http://www.maxdna.com/#!   The work was fun to look at, full of references to Mayan Art, Mexican folklore, bunnies, cars, and skeletons.  Max went into the influence that Pop Surrealism had on his work, and showed images by Pop Surrealists such as Mark Ryden and Gary Baseman. When the talk was over, I felt discouraged, feeling that that my art was old and dated, the words "fuddy duddy" springing to mind.  Some raw nerve had been touched, some part of me that felt out of step and unloved.  Even though Pop Surrealism was old news by now, I still couldn't get over the feeling that I wasn't doing work that spoke to a younger generation, work that was cynical and clever, droll, and complex.

I thought a lot about this Pop Surrealist thing, this feeling I had of not being current for the rest of my stay in Yuma.  I then brought these thoughts back to New Mexico to ponder and chew over.  Today, when I came out to the studio, I felt as if I were looking at my work with new eyes. Interestingly, I found the  work to be very compelling--much better than I had remembered.  Perhaps not clever or cynical, but certainly complex and not like anything I've ever seen before. There was honesty, and an attempt to make and do things I hadn't done or known how to do before.  I don't know exactly why I needed to beat up on myself so much in Yuma, but I suspect it was the part of me that doesn't know where I am going creatively.  That part of me was looking for a way to dodge the responsibility of not knowing, of being uncomfortable, of feeling chaotic and lost.  It was easier to substitute the known for the unknown instead of just reassuring myself that, no matter how hard it is, all would be okay.




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pins: Yuma Art Symposium 2015

I've been invited to be a presenter at the Yuma Art Symposium http://yumaartsymposium.memberlodge.org/  later this month.  My talk will be about my work, and then I will do a short presentation on what I have become an expert at:  gluing and transfers--a very narrow field of expertise.

We are asked to bring "pins".  I wasn't quite sure what that meant, so I emailed back and forth with Janet Fine, one of the first people to tell me about Yuma. Here is what she said, " yes i can tell you about the pins...its pretty fun...a little stressful. crazy.  the first time i went i didnt get it and i made 8 super intricate pins...duh..wrong. so you get to lutes casino and folks are trading pins. all kinds..the bar is high AND low...if that makes sense....but that is not the majority. the idea is to be able to make a lot and not spend too much time. i always make the same mistake which is i make them all different and then exchanging is a long process cuz folks mull over which to take...but i guess thats what i enjoy.  So I took what Janet said to heart, and have spent the last week(am still putting the final finishes on them)putting my pins together.  They are 3"x4", on a light board with a pin glued to the back, 27 in total.  Here are some of my favorites:








Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anderson Ranch Winter 2015 Immersive Jan. 5-Jan 23.


View of the studio given to me in the basement of the painting/printmaking building during my recent teaching/working immersive at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Co.  I had half of the printmaking complex, the other half(through the door at the far end)housing the presses, large digital printer, and flat files.  My studio was the classroom for printmaking--an ideal studio since there was no immersive in printmaking(I was there as the photo/new media instructor).   Lots of tables(high, good for standing) and glass surfaces all along both walls, ideal for gluing and making a mess when painting.  My only problem with the studio was that it served as a main walkway for people going into printmaking, and I found it easier to talk to people passing through than to struggle with my images.  I worked with students in the mornings and then had the afternoon and evening to work on my own.  At the end of each of the three weeks we were there I would invite my students to come down and check on my progress.  I had hoped to conquer the DASS transfer process, so brought materials to support that effort:  paint, brushes, panels, DASS super sauce, DASS transparencies, and access to my photographs files via on-line backup. I also had a Mac computer and an Epson 3880 to print with.


East wall with cellutex so that I could easiily put up work to look at with push pins.  Works developing using DASS transfer techniques along with an ink wash face that developed from across the room as I looked at my paintings lined up against the opposite wall.  It became the face of a bear surrounded by dots(lower right).  I had hoped to improve my photoshop skills, and managed to learn quite a few new things from one of my students, Mark Tucker, and from my friend, Kathy Honea, another digital immigrant.
Finished piece:  DASS transfer over painting.  Wash bear face on the left(with spots).
"
Opposite wall with developing paintings, some finished, some maybe, maybe not.  All still working with DASS transfer process which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't.  I'm never quite sure why the non successful don't work, and am often surprised at how the transfers look when they are on the transparencies as opposed to when they have actually been transferred.  Again, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.  Below is a composite of two paintings with a hawk uniiting the two.  Done on a new kind of paper ordered from Dick Blick, a kind of faux carboard meant to be painted on, either oil or water based.  Nice stuff.

 I won't know the success of the images I did during my time at Anderson Ranch until I have them up, have sat with them awhile, and have looked at them through the critical eyes of my husband, Bob.  They are different than what I usually do, so am having to look at the work with new eyes.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Gray Horse 2014

My friend Sandra had always loved horses but wasn't able to be involved with them until she was an adult. By the time I met her, she had two horses, and our friendship began because she needed someone help her exercise them. Sandra continued her love affair with horses and finally ended up buying Chevy, a nine year old gray thoroughbred with some basic training in dressage.  Chevy and Sandra worked hard together, moving up in their dressage until they got to level III, although as Sandra said, "He was a little too hot to be a really good dressage horse".  She had Chevy for almost 20 years, and kept him long after he could be ridden, boarding him in a comfortable barn with lots of other horses.  She would come out several times a week to groom and pamper him, bathing him or taking him for walks.  He was in his late 20's when I took this picture, and he died not soon after at the age of 27.

Our animals give us the rare opportunity to love and to be loved unconditionally, and it is as they age that this love is the deepest. Unable to go for runs or rides with us,  partially blind, deaf, incontinent, and lame, they bring out our best selves as we care for them until that terrible moment when we have to send them "over the rainbow bridge". Gray Horse" reminds us of what a privilege and an honor it is to have had these animals in our lives.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Smudge 2014

For the last 8 months or so I have been working with photo transfers, and finally, with some technical success.  I just read Bonnie Lhotka's book, Digital Alchemy, after owning it for more than a year and working with the processes she writes about with my students for the last four years.  My learning curve is such that, unless I am desperate, I won't, absolutely won't, go to a manual for directions.  In other words, it has to be pretty dire for me to crack open that book of instructions.  I've also been reading  Digital Art, by Scott Ligon, a book that helps artists work with Photoshop.  I've had that book for about six years after one of my students, Cindy Jerrell, sent it to me(her piece is on the cover).  It's a good book for us intuitive, non-linear brain people, and I have been learning to do selections and masks, although am still shying away from using levels.  Shall we just say that Photoshop doesn't come naturally to me.

With all of that, in some ways I'm still as confused as I was 8 months ago.  I'm excited by the process, love the thrill of the transfer(will it work or not!!) and initially love the way it looks.  But after a bit, after it settles in, I feel like it's not quite enough, and I'm not sure where to take it.  With Smudge I went back to my beloved oils, which I haven't used in almost ten years.  This piece is a combination of a transfer gone bad, collage, paint peels, and oil paint. I'm pleased with it, but am afraid it's a step backwards.  In other words, been there, done that. I'm trying to go somewhere I've never been, never seen, and don't have a clue of how to get there except that I need to involve paint with photography, and that I need not to be careful, thoughtful, or to pre-plan where I'm headed.  Makes it hard to pack for the journey.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dog Man with Black Tail 1999

In 1996, my good friend and neighbor, Bob Zachary, had open heart surgery to replace the mitral valve in his heart.  Once he'd recovered, he showed me his scar, a long thin line running from below his throat to to just above his belly with two puncture holes on either side at the bottom of the long scar. For much of the surgery, he was hooked up to a heart-lung machine so that he could stay alive while the surgeons worked on his heart.  Once he described the surgery, it was clear to me that Bob had gone over the barrier that separates life and death. When I began to work with the photographs I had taken of him, I realized that all the paintings I did of Bob with his scar were shamanic, Dog Man with Black Tail being the largest(48"x24").  Recently I asked him what he remembered--did he have any out of body experiences, any white light, tunnels, or have profound knowledge to to share with those of who hadn't made the journey?
"No." he said, "Can't remember anything.  It was too long ago."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Old Dog Resting

Plez was a Blue Heeler that my husband Bob and I had for 16 years.  He came to us with a bad hind leg--kicked by a horse when he was a pup--which he would pull up when he ran so that he often ran on three legs.  He was a good dog with a few issues, like nipping at anything that went by, but he never nipped hard, and was only doing what his genetic code told him to do.  He aged, grew impaired, and it finally came to the day we had to take him to the vet to have him put down.  It was hard on all of us, me especially.  He had been my dog and my friend, and I missed him terrifically.

We now have a dog who is 14 and today my husband and I had "the talk" about him.  He has become increasingly incontinent, and it seems that not a day passes that we don't have something to clean up, either inconspcious little brown turds that have dropped out, or diarrhea, which smells so foul that he he won't go anywhere near it. We can count on moist pillows in his crate from his urine leaking in the night and have to be very careful to get him out of the house as quickly as possible in the mornings before he lets loose with a deluge of nasty smelling old male dog pee.  We don't see this situation getting any better, only worse.

Like many things in life, it's complicated.  He is not a dog we are overly fond of, tending towards obsessive/compulsive and bizarre behavior.  For example, he once lifted his leg, took aim, and then urinated on my ankle. Think autistic. However, aside from the incontinence, he is doing pretty well.  He has a good appetite and manages to charge the fence in the back yard to bark at passing cars, people, and especially, other dogs.  He sleeps a lot, but seems generally happy to be on the planet.  I'm afraid that if we do put him down for our convenience, we will be filled with guilt, but at the same time, both of us are tired of living with an animal that we don't really like that has turned our home into a toilet.  So, to keep that guilt at bay, we recently purchased three packages of doggie diapers....