Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Down & Dirty Decisions

Back to the Studio after 10 days in Hawaii has motivated me to focus and kick myself back to work!  But, not in the same way.  Do you ever wonder why the months of January and February leave you feeling somewhat unfocused?  Today this little quote fell out of a random sketchbook --- 

"To lose focus means to lose energy.  The absolutely wrong thing to attempt when we've lost focus is to rush about struggling to pack it all back together again.  Rushing is not the thing to do.  Patience, peace and rocking renew ideas.  Just holding the idea and the patience to rock it are what some women might call a luxury.  Wild Woman says it is a necessity!"  
 (Women Who Run With the Wolves - Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.)  

As a painter, there is anxiety to make paintings-- hoping whatever you're doing is successful.  Something we live with daily and cope with in our own personal and private ways.  There's nothing more important than to know how to work with anxiety, a slump, and making firm decisions.   

For some of us, the automatic response is to rush around trying to pack it all in by painting what you think you should be painting.  It isn't working and it sometimes turns into a shitty studio day.  We all have them more than we'd like to admit.  But, stumbling around with our materials often brings magic!  This could be called 'rocking it'.   And, returning to the studio to "rock it" is what it's really about.  Hanging with the process.  

Losing focus can also signal the need to 'loosen up'!  This packing things all back together feels right at the time we're doing it, but it makes things tighten up inside ourselves and shows up in our studio practice as well as the work.  Rearranging art materials and OCDing around for a particular brush, X-acto blade or sandpaper gets old.  Figuring out new strategies is key and I'm always discovering new things about myself every week.  

I was happy to have 2 projects to participate in --- "Mail Art 2010/Prison Library Project" in Claremont, CA (thank you Anne Seltzer) and Alex Brown's "Under The Influence" for a show in Pomona, CA.   There --- a "focus" both fun and took me out of my head!  After pieces went to the post yesterday, I got down and dirty today!  

You know those stacks of paintings that you think you're going to get back to someday... but they're really in your way?  And, they sort of lay a little bit of pressure way way back in your mind?  If you believe in Feng Shui (Chinese art of placement etc.) you'll know what I'm talking about.  Ed Moses talks about 1 out of 100 paintings and the 99 go straight to the morgue!  Yes, we all have a morgue and mine is a temperature controlled one that costs me money every month and is 45 mins. away!  No more keeping this packed together!  

So, today I got seriously down and dirty by grabbing a 5 year old painting that I love but never could finish.  I made a firm decision. I built this birch panel myself  (36"x36"x2"- mixed media painting)  and was in complete self-trust mode of destroying it today.  It felt great and I sat with it for a long time in between the deconstruction to listen.  This is cultivating patience in the studio --   (every Facebook notification of someone's new work, show or recognition registers inside you... and living with keeping peaceful with where you're at right now is part of an artists' life --- 'what separates the amateurs from the professionals'...(my friend in art gently reminds me)... 

It was truly a down and dirty day.  Scraping away layers of black wax, encaustic gesso, and acrylic had me covered in layers of flakes, dust and stickyness!  What you see left are graphite lines that have been inlayed into the panel.  Tomorrow we'll see what happens with more down and dirty decisions.  I have 3 other large paintings to take down to the bare wood this month -- 2 at 48"x48" and 1 at 60"x60".   

The month of March is to get 'down & dirty' whatever you're doing -- making terrific paintings, exhibiting your solo show, finding a new dealer,  or  breaking out of staying safe!  So --- go and "Rock It"----it's a necessity!!!  


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