Expect-ations. Un-expect-ed. Sometimes as artists we find ourselves at a pivotal point where, what was going to happen, can’t. Life happens. Finances happen. Time restraints happen. Spills happen. It’s not easy to let go of expectations, to release ourselves from the idea of a piece. Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to work outside of expectations, whether our own or a professor’s. We have to find a way through self-doubt and wrestle a project back from the brink of perceived destruction. There’s a lot of fear involved, but in the end we own the “exchange of intent”. When we look at it, we know the result wasn’t an accident. But instead, “I chose to do something else”
This was the premise behind my first curatorial endeavor for OMOCA (Ogden Museum of Contemporary Art).
The Three Graces, 2015
Oil on Canvas
This work started out large in scale. But because of a bad layer of gesso it was flipped, reduced in size, painted on, re-gessoed, and then worked over and over until the result was satisfactory. The life of this painting represents for me a continuous struggle with the creative process. Overcoming challenges and doubt to create a work of art.
Color/Form Isn’t Working For Me, 2015
Fabric dye, Acrylic, Alcohol Ink, and Urea on Paper
My painting professor gave us an assignment on color and form. Half way through my half-hearted effort, I decided I needed to make a change. But then I had this unfinished paper that I couldn’t let go to waste. I flipped it over and went for a more organic approach and allowed the pigment to flow freely across the page and ended up with this satellite image.
Ode to the Broken Cup, 2016
This was an unknown form in my head. I was working over the summer with a white stoneware. I was throwing plates, bowls, and working on a vase form. I chose to start hand building a slab project not knowing what to expect. The form started to build and I started placing my ugly vases into the form. I saved the handles made by Nichole Bybee, a fellow student, from being recycled. I surfaced the piece and let it dry slowly while working on responding to the piece. One of the handles had cracked in the middle, instead of the usual edges when not properly slipped to the piece. The piece was placed in kiln and fired. After every firing, I noticed that these cracks multiplied. I retired the piece from the kiln, when the webbing of the cracks spread and covered most of the piece. The cracks were an unexpected retaliation of the clay body, caused by dunting during the firing process, due to the measurements of silica in the clay body itself being too high. The magic of the unknown cracking allowed me to let the clay do what it wanted and letting the clay body take control.
Calla Lily Cup, 2013
Clay and Glaze
In Ceramics I I really struggled with cup making. With this specific piece, when it collapsed instead of removing my hands, I kept them on the piece. The sides that folded out wrapped around the base of the cup and reminded me of a calla lily. If I hadn’t viewed the failure of a cup as a new creation it would have ended up in a clay ball. What started out as a cup is now a calla lily jewelry dish.
Scared Tire, 2016
In Ceramics II, the words I received for our hybrid project were nudibranch, scared, dump truck, and pitchfork. When I was working the idea for this project, the word: scared, was complicated for me because I didn’t know how to make a face expressing the emotion. I decided to started the tire. I wanted it to appear like it came from a dump truck, I added a pitch fork in the back of the piece, which kept breaking as it would dry. I ended up giving up on it and let the pitchfork remain broken. My teacher and classmates we often amused as I was “playing” with carving. These marks with slip, could be used as a technique known as sgraffito which gave the face the look of horror. The slips I chose didn’t turn out as bright as I wanted, so I fired it a 2nd time with glaze. This caused the glaze to let off fumes darkening the slips even more. For this projects final critique, I passed out little baby snails to my class mates to add to their work. I left the large snail for myself, which was unfired and saved from the trash can. I placed the snail in the mouth of my scared tire, and created a tongue. My garbage destined snail completed the piece and has remained part of it since final critique.
The Stars Look Very Different Today, 2012-2016
Oil on canvas
This painting was going to be a still life. I stretched the canvas in the Fall Semester of 2012 and started painting a very dark background. Two years later, I began to study the positions of the stars in the Summer sky, and painted them in the order that they appeared. Then, I tried adding more stars. I wasn’t satisfied with the hand painted quality. The painted stars looked to predetermined, and the atmosphere felt flat. Finally, during the hottest days in the Summer of 2016. I was using an oscillating fan in the studio. I noticed, by accident, that when I dripped paint from a brush the movement of the air from the fan would drop the paint in a more random way, and everything came together!
The Stairway to Heaven, 2016
After my adventures in Hawaii I was inspired to create likeness to the stairway to an abandoned radio tower nicknamed “The Stairway to Heaven.” In monotype printing I found that representing this was harder than I expected. In frustration, I took the brayer and putty knife and created a disfigured array of shapes and forms.
Death of Portrait Oil Painter, 2016
Oil on canvas
This was the last time I painted like this before realizing it wasn’t really me. Now it’s mushrooms all the way down.
Oil and Spray Paint on canvas
For this piece I initially intended to render a portrait of a woman with conventional aspects of beauty. I began underpainting this canvas using orange, pink, and green spray paint quite sporadically. Then laid down strips of painter’s tape lengthwise and started painting using a rag dipped in paint and turpenoid. After I was finished painting I peeled off the tape and realized that the tape was obstructing certain facial features from laying on the canvas. This deformed the alluring qualities of the figure and was a bit unsettling. At this point, I was frustrated that my painting was not working out. So I used a rag soaked in turpenoid and started erasing vigorously, removing the eyes and nose, but leaving the lips as they were. For a second time I began painting using a rag, but this time ignoring what I had drawn in my sketchbook. As the painting developed again the figure started becoming androgynous. Understanding that different people have different ideas of what beauty is influenced me to welcome the androgyny of this painting. Because beauty is not necessarily something that we can define the painting evolved from the pursuit of perfection to become something more interesting. Since the figure is of indeterminate sex it is titled “Xe” which is a gender neutral pronoun.
Ten Years, 2016
Acrylic and Spray Paint on canvas
This project was all about new experiences and exploring the unknown for me. It was the first time I had ever tried abstract art. I laid newspaper out on my front porch and began pouring paint. When it got to a point where I thought it was done I moved it aside and left it to dry on my porch, and eventually went to bed. I was woken up a few hours later by my sister who was telling me that there had been a rain and wind storm and I should check on my painting. All I could do at the time was put it on a poster board and carefully move it inside. When I checked it in the morning I found that it had been rained on and the wind had blown a bunch of the wet paint around as well as completely off the canvas.
Powdered Pigment, India Ink, and Acrylic
I ended spring semester on, what I felt, was a high note for me. I’d painted three large, vertical landscapes, all very crisp and filled with vibrant colors. Over the summer, I thought I’d keep the momentum of the series going and started my usual process of throwing powdered pigment on the page. In a fit of spontaneity, I decided I wanted an orange sunset in the background. Then, remembering an ink splattered area I liked in the others, I dropped india ink up and down the paper. I used my trusty spray bottle to wet it all down and left it to dry overnight in my dim garage. To my horror, in the bright light of the morning, I saw the powder (when wet) was actually yellow and the ink had become giant pools of black. Together, the whole thing looked like some grotesquely smushed bumble bee. It was horrific! I almost threw it out in tears but decided I could get my flow back. I needed my music. I played it loud. Then I faced the striped monstrosity with small pallet of 4 acrylic neutrals and some brushes. With each brush stroke the black was drawn through that bright yellow, toning it into a multitude of shades that became an underpainting for those simple acrylics. As the paint and I danced to the music, I reclaimed this piece and gave it new life as Bumblebee/FOB.
How Am I Not Myself…, 2015 – 2016
Oil on panel
I Chose To Do Something Different by asking How Am I Not Myself…
By transforming scapes of space with unsettling sparsity, and melding unlikely color and violent subject matter, my abstraction became something more. I was faced with shifts back and forth between the physical, necromantic and the climatory, evoking wounds seeping into skyscapes, while sensing the wake of brutality. Hatred does not belong to us, it’s as much a descension as sinking smoke, only dissipating with acts of rage, but blood is never to transpire as water in this war or any other. Never have I found more concern before judgment in my work, leading me to believe it is not of this world at all.
Acrylic and Polymer
Shortly after I retired, department of Corrections top officials were caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. What newspaper reports did not say was that the deficit would be made up by cheating employees out of their health benefits. When my health insurance premium reached $836.00 per month, I was forced to drop my health insurance. So when a car wandered head on into my lane of traffic, as I come out around a bus, I was uninsured. I was denied treatment by both local hospitals and sent home hemorrhaging after my lungs collapsed with no oxygen. I lived to paint a picture of my experience, which was very therapeutic. After that, every time I saw the picture, ripples of post traumatic stress rippled through me. I decided to paint a new picture. On the canvas I had 3 coats of gesso, a ground and the hospital picture. When I added a new ground there were 6 coats. Next I painted a Moose. I miss judged the width of the moose and antlers and didn’t get it all in the picture. This picture was almost finished, when I covered it up with a new ground coat (the 8th coat of paint). I was determined not to get it wrong. I did a graph, the moose fit on the canvas, with the right proportions. I stood back and realized how massive the moose body was in comparison to the small antlers from a side view. In addition, the movement was all wrong. The next ground (coat number 9) covered up all the lines. By doing a composite, I was able to turn the moose and get it all into the pictures. I improved the movement with moose attempt number 3. I painted the water green; it was too ugly, I painted it turquoise; it was too dark, I painted it green again; it was too swampy, I painted it blue and it went turquoise. There is a total of 13 coats on the water. There are at least 13 layers, altogether, on the grass. I made drastic changes in the second moose about 5 times, far a total of 14 layers. The big moose has from 13 to 16 layers of paint depending on location, on the fur.
This picture with acrylic paint and polymer. It is a picture of God’s creatures: autonomous, unfettered and sublime.
Did You Really Just Say That?!
Fabric dye, Acrylic, and Ink on Paper
This is the piece that spurred the idea for this show. I had run out of paper for a text based project I was working. It involved landscapes with my interenal dialogue layered on top as an exploration of my psyche. With a critique in only a couple days, I needed more paper quickly. However, due to a mix up in the cogs of the military, my husband hadn’t received a paycheck that month and on a tight budget I headed to the store only to find out that they no longer carried paper in the size I had been working on. I’d have to order it online, with huge shipping fees, and that wasn’t a possibility. As I sat in the aisle crying, my three year old alternately tugging on my leg and grabbing things off the shelves, I decided that I would just have to “do something else”. And that is what I did. Instead of the 4×8 ft landscape I’d anticipated making, I narrowed it to 2×8. In this way it more closely referenced Asian text scrolls and the mental shift I’d been forced to make helped me release the idea that there needed to be a recognizable landscape. In the end, the choice not to hold myself to what I thought needed to happen resulted in a piece that was more authentic to the spirit of my project.