Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Muddely Must

Today in my 'Painters Keys' newsletter from Robert Genn, there is a note from a fellow who does many pencil and marker sketches on his travels as ways to catch scenes for future paintings. He suggests always carrying a notebook and assorted pens so one would be prepared. Genn doesn't disagree but he much prefers to paint a scene directly wherever he may be, saying this:
"When they make a drawing, many painters find that while they may gain a deeper understanding of the subject, they also lose some of the impetus for more ambitious work. I find worthwhile subjects need to be caught and held in a final, definitive form during the initial wave of connectivity that takes place during that "wow" moment."
I discovered the same thing back when I was taking a class from Nancy Halpern and the calendar hadn't yet flipped into the 80's. One of the exercises done in the class was to cut up tiny fabric squares and triangles and paste them down onto graph paper in response to different words. For example the colors would be quite different in the same block in response to 'Spring' and 'Autumn'. The idea was to find new combinations of color for blocks, to break out of having the color in traditional places, and to explore new arrangements within a traditional space. It was addictive and I bought it completely. I spent the next few months gluing tiny chunks of cloth to paper and came out with some fabulous arrangements- whole notebooks full of them. I was making tiny quilts every waking moment. (OK, I am a bit obsessive, so you didn't know this by now?) Pages of graph paper quilts littered my house. But time went by and I never actually made any of them!

What had happened was I had already *done* them with my glue stick and had no need to actually turn them into something else. Once I figured that out I folded up the pages and headed for the studio. Since then I have never planned my quilts or collages ahead of time, instead they are a seat-of-my-pants, gut reaction to choices, do-one- thing-then-do-another process. And that's the way I have to work- your mileage may vary. One of the members of my crit group is exactly the opposite and turns out exquisite shibori landscapes- she does drawings on site, she comes back and makes a full sized cartoon, she dyes every scrap she will use for each particular area (and I am talking teensy tiny pieces!) and she hand pieces it all together. They are simply beautiful. Of course I am talking about Carol Grotrian's work. Do take a moment and look at it again.

My point here is that everyone does a process differently. When you take a workshop or class you have to digest what you learn, then adapt it to a way that fits *your* system. You must leave out certain steps, ignore other parts, invent your own shortcuts and make it yours. I was talking about this with one of my new 'roommates' at QBL who was quite frustrated with process in the class she was taking. She loves the teachers work but was having some real problems following along. While talking with her, it was apparent that the two methods were colliding and she was frustrated to be doing something that she didn't like doing to achieve results. We decided that it was OK to never work this way for her again, it was OK to continue to like the teacher's work but not DO it, and it was OK because she did learn lots of other things to take away from QBL.

To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut yet again-

You must do
Muddely do
What you must
Muddely must
Until you bust
Bodily bust.
This summer I decided to clear out my slide boxes since I don't use slides any more. Many I have were never digitized because my scanner didn't do a very good job, so I bundled them all up and sent them off to a company in Miami to do. I got them back on line the other day and have been 'fixing' all 135 of them because the slides had lost so much color over the years. When I looked at them as a group it was like I was looking through waxed paper! A few of my newer slides got sent too, and they hadn't lost color yet so I know it is the slides, not the scanning company. They could only work with what I sent them. Anyway, I *wish* I had done this a long time ago, and I promise to keep up with transferring them again as media changes. Just a warning to get out the old slides and assess how badly they may have deteriorated, and get them on discs before further damage happens.

And a PS today: We got a new mattress yesterday- the poor delivery guys had to haul it up 2 flights of stairs because the elevator was being repaired, but I slept like a baby for the first time since I've been back in town. In fact I think I will have this----

tattooed on my eyelids so people will think I am awake. And I will finally have the green eyes I have always wanted! Huh? It would HURT? OK, then forget it.

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