Holding on is an original painting, a part of the series of the same name. The first painting is here, My Invisible Heart.
Mixed Media (acrylic, mica, beeswax) on canvas
“Trying to learn how to paint again, well, it is not like riding a bike.”
I used to paint all the time. I used to work with watercolors and acrylics mostly, years ago, but this was all before I drifted into the realm of sculpture and art work in three dimensions, and all the things I knew how to do just faded away. Trying to learn how to paint again, well, it is not like riding a bike. There are so many bad paintings behind me. Sometimes I can see where I’ve gotten better, sometimes I cannot, mostly it is very slow progress. A lot of paint, painting, frustration, and complaining about all three.
Back in April I had asked for canvas for my birthday… 5, in fact, so that I could start a series that I’ve been thinking about. Most of my paintings/drawings/whatever live inside my head. I paint to get these images out of my head… so a lot of times you will see the same girl/pose/theme to my work because I just can’t get the image out of my head.
I’ve spent every day drawing or painting something, anything to let this idea live. A lot of time, this is all I do. I paint, working towards the goal of five pieces, or I work on a paper mache piece, or I work on a gourd piece. I do art. It is not always pretty. Scratch that. Mostly, it is not pretty. Mostly, it is not what I had envisioned in my head. And then I get annoyed. (I’m sure this happens/ has happened to every other artist, ever, in the history of artists.)
“I can’t be happy unless I’m painting.”
See, usually I feel like I paint because I have to. Not because anyone is making me, but because I can’t be happy unless I’m painting. There’s a lot of other junk involved in that, but mostly I am not happy with my day if I haven’t painted. Is this a creative energy, or spirit… a muse? Is this just an urge? A passion, an obsession? I don’t have these answers, I just paint because I have to paint, and I wish I had the words to express that better but I think in paintings and speak with paintings.
I wanted the five paintings to be exercises in style, technique, and simplicity. I was trying to find my style again, the essence of who I am, stylistically, as a painter, as an artist. For this series, I knew I wanted a central female figure, with her hands in different poses. I knew I wanted it to be a simple five-piece series focusing on the execution, the procedure, the method and manner of laying down paint with brush. I want to find MY way, My style, and the only way to do that is paint paint paint. But, man do I ever get frustrated with myself. (I can certainly whine a lot about it as well.) I get so annoyed when things aren’t happening the way I wanted them to, the way I had planned, the way I see them in my head. I get to a point where I hate painting. Those are bad days.
I research art every day; painting techniques, styles, media, substrates. Delving into everything from outsider folk art, altered mixed media pieces, old masters, and a lot of dolls/figurative sculpture. It isn’t that I want to completely separate myself from the artist that works in 3-d, it is that I wanted to become a better painter. (I’m sure this will help me make better sculptures, as well.) There is so much clutter in my brain with all these other things I’ve been looking at and concentrating on. Then I want to add something else to my paintings, or change something, or do something completely different. I have to talk myself down from these places and really focus on painting this series, because I think, “Wouldn’t it be cool to learn how to do embroidery/paper cuts/ mache technique/ soldering…”
When I was painting this piece, it was all about the series, which exists in my head as, “Holding On and Letting Go.” It was also about quieting the clutter and anxiety and focusing on painting. It was about style, and technique, and simplicity. Somehow in all the painting I was doing, it really turned into a piece about contrasts. I decided only to use two colors to paint the figure, burnt sienna and a portrait pink, to limit myself, to see if I could successfully paint a person in only two colors. I love to use saturated bright colors, especially in my 3-d work, in this painting I limited those colors and that application to the background. The contrast of busy background / static figure, cool colors / warm, shimmery / flat, vibrant / dull, etc… all came together in little decisions, without planning. (I’m sure that my struggles with painting are a bit to blame for the direction this painting took, odd how things like that manifest themselves while I’m not really aware of what is happening.)
I believe she looks calm and a bit contemplative.
Painting is getting easier and feeling more satisfying.