Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holding Inside The Studio

As always, holding and working truthfully in the Studio is here again. Whenever sets of paintings are completed and I'm working on another set, those same questions plague me and I have to work hard to chase them down. I suppose it's always a question about why I paint what I paint... and turning off the world outside the studio.

This week I started another set. Finished a set of 4, then another set of 4 and now beginning a larger format set of 4! This is how I work. In sets, in waves. There's a particular rhythm that I have to have in the Studio. There is a need for freedom to explore color and high need for physical dynamism. Perhaps this is the 'energy' that viewers experience with my work.

I enjoy the physical movement in the studio with setting up, changing media, changing tools, finding new methods and exploring the possibilities. An artist once asked me why I use the media that I use and why do I work so hard? I question this all the time.

Making art and holding is about quieting these thoughts, pushing them off to the side to paint. Making room for and allowing myself the space to create without judgement and thought. Yet, materials require thought-- especially working with integrating media and making skillful joins.

Working hard and following the work through takes discipline, effort and focus. At the end of the day I never know how it will turn out. The vision changes, mistakes are made, learning through the skillful joins and accidents can be very satisfying. Some days are started off with lots of energy, ending with dissatisfaction -- and another day can start off slow and end up full of energy and you easily work a few extra hours. There's always something, whether it's through something happening or not.

Thinking about Agnes Martin, her work, her philosophies... I resonate with much of her 1997 interview:

Her quotes are there for's about diving deeply into my process, knowing what I'm about and painting for myself. This is the part where she says, "I have turned my back on the world to paint". The world is always knocking on my studio door. So, you see, this 'holding' inside the studio is my small gesture of turning my back on the world. Quieting the mind while creating and sliding into that zone is the goal and beauty of making art. She said that 'music' is the highest form of art -- the emotional response is powerful.

I agree with her very much. I have music playing 99% of the time while I'm painting. Lately that 1% has been winning out but once the pace picks up after the initial start of a set, music is blaring and quite often the same music needs to be played for the entire set....

We shall see how these larger paintings play out.

Any material may be used but the theme is the same and the response is the same for all artwork... we all have the same concern, but the artist must know exactly what the experience is. He must pursue the truth relentlessly.
Agnes Martin

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