Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Studio

"Consider your studio a sanctuary where the devotion of time and attention are always more important than the actual physical space. The process of painting requires a mind-set that puts aside the concerns of daily life in order to focus on the inner dialogue between yourself and your visual perceptions as an artist." Suzanne Booker

For the last three plus years I have been decluttering my space in general. Many years ago I picked up the Feng Shui practices and have been mindful of then from my first discovery.

I live in a small space and that can pose some challenges that require creative solutions. I am always looking for those solutions as I discover the ideal.
While light and ventilation and storage, resources and elbow room are individual space by space requirements, the most challenging is my head space.

Pablo Picasso said "The purpose of Art is washing the dust of the daily life off our souls"

But sometimes that dust can find its way into the studio. I suppose that is a challenge that is as individual as each of our studios. But for me it requires a level of meditative practice. And sometimes I don't even realize that the dust has followed me in.

Over the last two and a half years I have been systematically eliminating the unnecessary. I occasionally get caught up in the flurry of life and drama and fear. The more I devote myself to my craft and my goals the less I am willing to participate.

This is a fine line. We all have our paths. Where we come from, our influences, our fears, our concerns, our investments.
Balance is even a tricky thing. I think we can all agree that if you wish to be a master of your practice, it requires imbalance. But I reserve the right to be wrong about that.

So for me, my studio, my sanctuary must be more than a well lit, well arranged studio space, but also I must be well with my soul.

My physical space is still under consideration and construction.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First you draw what you see

Since childhood I have always been involved with art. My career as a professional artist started over twenty years ago.

I have always been an observer.

My education has been of the self taught variety although that is a slightly misleading term. No I have not attended an art school or a university, but I have always paid close attention and am always willing to learn even when the teacher is unaware that they are indeed teaching this eager student. Likewise willing to teach when the student appears.
I have spent many years developing my skills with paint and pencil and perspective but always mindful of the lack of the formality of it all.

wow that is alot of 'ofs'

What this study has done and is doing is enhancing by information what I see with centuries old traditions that exist within Western art and culture.

I might say that observation in an ongoing process for many lifetimes.

"First you draw what you see, then you draw what you know, and finally you know what you see" Domenic Cretara

Walking through my perceptions and interpretations and observations I am coming to discover the way I think, see and feel.

I am learning that we painters think with our eyes and hands and the skill we develop through practice can not be separated from our ideas. I love this. So many times I have heard the opinion that skill is relegated to inferior, merely manual status. You cannot separate the hand from the arm, or the brain from the heart.

So there is an element of trust that must be employed as artists. The trust in the process, trust in the bigger picture, trust in the lifetime of searching and practice.

This is why I have said many times, 'Artist are like monks. There is a devotion required. There is an almost sacrificial attitude, if you will, required.

"For a life dedicated to the solitary task of pushing paint around a canvas, which is the essence of being a painter" Domenic Cretara

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


What inspires me? That is such a good question especially faced with a project such as I am attempting. When I started my blog and the challenge I presented myself, I was not thinking about the massive inspirational volume I would need to have for a show at the museum. Actually the show part was not even part of the original equation. That came later. It was mainly a personal goal and challenge to mature my work. As I Skipped down the path of study, I have gladly and eagerly learned invaluable information about the creative processes, techniques and the history of art that I have applied to the work.

Then comes the performance anxious! Yikes! The anxiety I have in every social situation I am in, which predictably causes me to freeze, turn into a rock and sink to the bottom of the lake, dark and murky.

Today, a break through, thankfully.

There are many aspects of creating to take into account and much to learn. I admire those who seem to accomplish this with ease and grace. None of which come naturally for me.

While planning the work for the museum show I have really struggled with trite.
I really want to find the connections without the repetitiveness that leads to immediate boredom. But the more I have struggled with finding the original, the more I found myself up to elbows in alligators. Mediocre everywhere. It has been unnerving.

Please do not misunderstand, I have experienced inspiration and I have work that I have created through the course of my studies that I am very proud of.

But at this particular time, I just really felt stuck.

I am meditating on the strength and power of David, Vasquez and Picasso searching for my voice to communicate that in a personal way, a contemporary way, without cliche'.

Concurrently, in my personal life I am also going through transformation. Putting into practice some principles I am learning from Don Miguel Ruiz.

This morning while I was participating in my most resent morning routine, I was meditating on a principle I am learning in "The Four Agreements" when the inspiration came to me for my next piece. I cannot express the excitement and relief that I have received.
I feel as though I have been stuck at a fork in the road without the decisive notion as to which direction to go next.

Eureka! and now off I go.

We shall see where this road leads.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Etched in Stone

I have been thinking about Donatello and Michelangelo. This is a very pleasant pass time. I wanted to go deeper with them. Not merely to study who they were, what they accomplished and attach my own meaning to their work, I wanted to experience the stone.

To further my experience with this study I decided to attempt a stone sculpture. Wow!

I have been working in collaboration with the sculptor Monty Taylor on stone and copper project which started as a charity sort of thing, happily, we liked it so much that we are continuing our efforts into other projects and it is so exciting. He offered me the opportunity to work in his studio on a stone project of my own. This is quite different than painting because there is no immediate gratification. Sculpting stone is a very slow process. I am not use to that. Because of my life style, I am usually able to start a painting and see it to the end in one sitting. Although even that is changing.

But back to the stone. My project is an owl. I have had fun with it and time just suspends. Of course that is what happens when ever I spend time in the creative realm. And if you talk to most artists about what happens when they create they will describe this other world that has no bounds of time. Time does not exist.

I am sculpting my owl in Colorado Alabaster and I have plans to make her wings out of copper. When sculpting in stone the approach is different than clay and even further from the experience of painting.

With stone I am removing the unnecessary. Every day that I go to Monty's studio to work on my stone sculpture, I continue my effort to liberate the owl from the stone.