It has been 6 weeks since my ‘ReBoot.’ If my attitude and artistic energy level are any indication, it has been a success. I am painting almost every day and completing 4 – 5 new pieces a week. Best of all, it’s fun again!
Every day I sit down at my table and let my curiosity run wild. ‘I wonder what would happen if I . . . ‘ begins the conversation; and then the words cease and the spiritual connection to pigment and surface takes over.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my switch to paper:
- It’s fun to work flat for a change! I folded up my easel and bought a utility table. Now I only drip when I want to drip; and I get to sit down sometimes, too!
- Good quality heavy paper allows for a fair amount of violence! I’m scrubbing and scratching and gluing like crazy and, so far, no tears. I am sure I will hit that wall eventually . . . but then I’ll just make the rip a part of the art.
- Somehow, my new setup has encouraged experimentation with new media. I’m using spray paint and re-purposing old unsuccessful watercolors via collage, using contact paper and stencils. The work is no less intuitive, but some of these new tools create an underlying structure, a skeleton on which all of that intuition can hang!
- I can get to done on an 18 x 24 piece of paper much faster than I can a 36 x 42 canvas. And it’s not just the size that makes for faster completion. I seem to have far fewer questions about what comes next on the paper than I did on canvas. I spend much less time staring at the work in progress trying to figure out where I’m going.
- Frames are expensive! A good gallery wrapped canvas can be hung without framing if the edges are clean or painted. Not so paper! I have 7 pieces in a show right now, all framed. I wanted to keep the prices low to move them, but when you ad $200 worth of bargain framing, even the least expensive pieces become pricey. I am going to invest in a mat cutter and experiment with mounting and matting inside plastic sleeves for rack display over the next couple of months.
Each of the Masonite boards I had cut at Home Depot accommodates two large pieces of paper. I tape them down with blue tape (Don’t skimp! Opt for name brand 3M tape. The less expensive stuff is junk). Then I work two pieces at once. There have been days when I had 4 going at the same time, but usually I’m working in twos.
I still begin with mark-making, but then it’s drips and washes and cutouts and so on. I’m working toward a dream-like image that tells an eerie subconscious tale. While I’m not allowed to love my finished pieces, I find myself staring at them quite a bit, getting a little lost in the stories that are there.
I’ve started working with metallic acrylics and watercolors. Used sparingly, they can add a reflective quality that creates depth. I find they work best when used in early layers and partially covered by subsequent layers. I like them to peek out and surprise the viewer as he/she moves about the room.
My ‘Likes’ on the new stuff are exploding on Instagram. I know this is a lot of vanity but it’s also a gauge of how effectively I’m connecting with an audience. I page through Instagram every day and for me to stop and ‘Like’ something . . . well, it has to be bold and exciting to get me to shift into that gear. And a comment requires something even more intriguing. So when I get 35 ‘Likes’ within an hour of posting something, I know I’m connecting well.
Yesterday, Jana Lynch asked me to be one of her RedRoom ‘Angels.’ This is a select group of artists, each of whom will rotate a wall of art each month over the next six months – and beyond if it works out. I gladly accepted! I like the gallery and the location is outstanding. But mostly, having to fill a wall with new pieces every month gives me something to work toward.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a significant body of work that is iconic enough to be recognizable as mine and to build a large enough audience so that familiarity with the pieces becomes widespread. Keith Haring is my hero.