A Painting’s Progress–how an abstract work unfolds
There was a fair amount of discussion during studio tour about how abstract art comes about. Working without a visual reference means that every session in front of the canvas is about existing in a place of not knowing where you’re going and having a willingness to fail and start again. It is a head space that is hard to get to and, for me, a bit fearful. This is a big work and took a big commitment every time I applied some paint. And, yes, I had to use a ladder to get to the top third of the surface. Obviously, big questions like “when is it done?” are hard to answer, as is “will it be read similar to its intention?”
Robert Genn says this about abstraction: “Each effort can be a creative event–a vehicle for the mysteries of the subconscious mind and an opportunity to flirt with pure forms, symbols and metaphors. It’s an art of hiding and disclosing. More than simply playing with the materials, abstraction is a discovery of motifs that happen to be part of a painter’s personal legend. Personality counts. “. I agree. The more I work in this arena, the more I understand my own personal symbols and forms. And in addition, my color palette expands, as does my use of line.
Genn also says, “Abstract art has the power to show us something we may not have seen before. It implies both thought and no-thought. Thriving on unconventional tools and a unique sort of energy, it’s also a collaboration of mind and spirit. As a form of wizardry and magic, an abstract may speak both to you and for you. More than anything, abstract art can be a conversation piece.”
My works are always influenced by my life and my readings, so the following words helped shape this painting to some degree as did getting myself into a space where I was just responding to the paint on the canvas.
Here were the written sources for this particular piece, Gravity
From Elery Akers, Advice from angeI I know it’s in your nature to want air, ozone. To float: to be free. But stick with what you know: you’d be surprised at the effect of sheer blundering and doggedness. To evaporate is nothing: to sprint, to travel. It’s weight that divides the known and unknown worlds. It’s your boots that impress us, your squads of boulders,
From Rilke, Sunset Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors which it passes to a row of ancient trees. You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,
leaving you, not really belonging to either, not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent, not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing that turns to a star each night and climbs—
leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads) your own life, timid and standing high and growing, so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out, one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
And, the lyrics from the song, Don’t go chasing waterfalls by TLC–which for some reason played on the radio multiple times during the time this painting was in progress.