Wednesday, May 10, 2006
My work on the aspen leaf miner moth
art series continues unabated. I am loving
the new, unusual ideas this subject has engendered.
Along with the 'moth eaten' portraits, I'm working
on a few different artworks using images of
larvae-mined hands. In the actual leaf mines, one can
observe how the moth larvae have eaten around
the leaf ribs, how they alter the track of the wee
caterpillar inside. I began seeing the lines of the palms
as similar stable lines akin to the leaf ribs....and thus...
Also, in working with the images of meandering mazes,
I've been thinking alot about life-pathways and life efforts.
Where our seemingly and not so seemingly random decisions
take us. What our search for sustenance and happiness
might inscribe on the world... The lines of the palm (and
palmistry, entire) are a divination of how we live our
lives and are meant to live our lives...supposedly. I've
been drawing the leaf miner mines on top of images of
palms to see where the lines intersect with the fate line, the
heart line, the love line....
Just playing around with an intriguing idea.
I've promised 6 artworks to the "Arctic Science and Art"
exhibit coming up this September----but with the
avalanche of good ideas the leaf miner reasearch has given
me, it'll be easy to offer more pieces of the show needs them.
Always a good thing.
Transfer station finds are often practical and
kind of boring.....but useful! I got a clean book of
lined paper, some To/From Christmas stickers
(in seven months, I'll be tickled to have them),
and a roll of tape still in the packaging.
This work bench was IN a dumpster and it was a
real struggle to get it out! I did though, and Frommage
is very happy to have it. (I always bring him good
dumster gifts....it takes a special husband to appreciate
this.)He reinforced the corners to
make the bench a little more stable and already has it
installed in his work shed.
A funky painting I might alter in a fit of humor, if
I ever have the time for 'frivolous' painting. It's pretty
dirty, and I haven't yet cleaned it off to see how good
the colors are...
I had a friend at college in Seattle who found a bunch of paintings
in a dumpster which he hauled out, took home and added to. He
brought them to a painting class critique and billed them
as 'collaborations' between himself and the original painter,
who had signed them. Pretty nifty thing to do, I thought at
the time. He's an ass-kicking painter nowadays and his
name is Joe.
This painting is skipping right along. I've learned a
technique for 'listening' to a painting. If I can set the
painting up across the room from me--at least 10 feet
away--I'll spend some minutes looking at it intensely and
it'll tell me what it needs. I must then DO IT,
whatever the instructions are---more red here,
darker there, a few lines here, etc. etc.,
without second-guessing myself or the painting. This
shutting-up of my doubts, the 'inner critic,' any
natural uncertainties, was the hardest thing to accomplish.
It's proved a great asset, though.
A year ago I created 12 paintings for a show in 4 weeks:
painted, matted and framed them myself and hung the
show with time to spare. I learned during that month
to make quick, decisive progress with paintings and not
let myself screw around with doubts or confusion. I
carefully laid out my plan of painting medium, framing
materials, sizes and number of artworks to accomplish.
Very methodical, very organized.
Of course, during that month, there were a few paintings
that fell flat. About half way through, I could sense that
there really wasn't any life to the painting...no heartbeat.
Also, it wasn't saying anything...it wasn't telling me
the next step. I would set it up across the room and look at
it, ready to take orders and it would just....sit there. Just a
silent piece of paper with some color on it. A dud.
Thankfully, there weren't too many of those.
A friend of mine asked me how I went about a painting
and I detailed my careful approach: careful drawings to
figure out compositions, watercolor sketches to look
at alternatives for colors, planning the framing far
ahead of time. She told me she was very surprised, as she
saw me as a free spirit kind of person. She said she imagined
me painting with reckless, creative abandon. (Or something
to that affect...we'd both had a few glasses of wine...)
I guess I'm flattered....
I'm just not that loose.
I'm strung pretty tight.
Give me some lists and a lot of things to plan and organize
and I am a happy artist.
This painting is giving me some conflicting messages.
I might have to follow some directions for it that I'll later
erase, paint over and regret. So it goes. It's making me
nervous, however, as I am hoping to finish and frame this
painting to exhibit in a show in June....deadline! I'd like
a painting that led me by the nose and finished itself in
a week. A painting that brooked no argument, demanded
my quick and talented hand and would return the favor
of creation with some impressive presence that would
garner attention, compliments and a fat sale. Yes.
What blog entry by me would be complete without
a damned flower picture? Here is my passionflower,
woefully beset by spidermites, yet gamely fighting the
good fight and showing me some gorgeous blooms.
(These blossoms smell divine, as well.)
My co-worker at the greenhouse gave it to me as a cutting
about 3 years ago. Her vine since died, so I returned her own
plant to her in the form of a cutting from mine.
What comes around goes around.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Ruined greenhouse on a friend's property...
I received my BFA in photography as a documentary
photographer. For about 10 years, I searched out and
photographed abandoned buildings, ruined architecture,
forgotten places. I loved searching out the old houses,
broken barns, blasted industrial buildings....
My best friend and roomate at the time Johnny and I would
drive around Washington in my old truck and find these places.
He was like a search hound for me---I couldn't believe how good
he was at finding old houses.....I'd drive right by what I thought was
a dense woods and he'd yell "Stop!" and hidden amongst the
brambles and overgrowth, there would be some beautifully ramshackle
I love the play of light falling through broken windows. I love
half-burned walls and brush growing up inside the floors of rooms.
I love seeing what is left of a house when all the people have moved
on and the forest re-inhabits it. I love seeing what people leave behind
in abandoned houses. Of course, in many "abandoned" houses, we
found LOTS of beer bottles, yucky mattresses, used condoms,
graffitti.....but that detritus was still evidence of the continued
evolution of the house. It was evidence of another transitional period
that structures go through before complete abandonment and
The best places were those farther from main roads, farther off
the beaten track, more overgrown, longer abandoned.
In these, the clues of the former inhabitants are more arcane and
harder to find. In one old, old house Johnny and I found, we discovered
one lone man's shoe in the attic....and that was it.
One house I found when by myself was so thickly surrounded by
blackberry brambles that I couldn't get within 50 feet of it without
tearing my clothes to shreds. I had to photograph it at the
outside perimeter of the thorny jungle around it....
At a house here in Alaska, I was walking quietly through the
rooms of an old house near downtown---abandoned for quite awhile---
and I came upon a very drunk man sleeping on the floor in the
back bedroom.....no photos of that house, as I had to tiptoe
very quickly and quietly out.
There is definitely a certain amount of danger to trotting
around in lost places. I once found myself very carefully
traversing the rotting beams on the upper story of a badly
burned house....stupid! But I HAD to get a shot of a bookcase
full of books that had been singed and then waterlogged---
the books were bulging out of the shelves, yet text still
peeked from the ragged, blackened pages. Gorgeous.
I find myself picking up my camera again and shooting lost
buildings, places whenever I stumble across them.
Here's a Monday blog I hope to continue as a weekly intallment...
Do you have an attraction to these places, too? What is it for
you that makes abaondoned buildings so fascinating?