Monday, September 2, 2019

Child Being Held 1987

This past Saturday, our family placed our 90 year old mother into a care situation.  She had been living alone for the last thirty years, the last ten of those years with increasing dementia. Two weeks ago we realized she needed round the clock care after some kind of set back where she couldn't take care of her basic needs, like going to the bathroom or getting herself a glass of water.

Ironically, the care situation we put her in was the exact same bedroom that her ex-husband(Nick) had died in six weeks ago http://hollyrobertsonepaintingatatime.blogspot.com/2019/07/nick-and-bob-laughing-1983.html.  Richard and Raymond take fragile people into their home and care for them until they die.  They are kind and capable men so we felt good about the fact that they still had a place open for Mom.  Needless to say, we had dreaded the day.  We had arranged for me to meet various family members and Mom at Richard and Raymond's on my way back from Colorado. My brother and I rolled her into the kitchen where she took a seat and shook hands with R&R as we all swarmed around getting her room ready and giving Richard the information he needed. Expecting some kind of meltdown, we were relieved to find Mom quietly moving into her new bedroom, where she lay down on the bed, and then drifted off, murmuring a quiet agreement and squeezing my hand when I said I thought she was going to really like her new home.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Horse with Spots 2011

I take a shower just about everyday.  This piece is hanging above our towel rack, across from the bath, so as I climb out, shower finished and reach for my towel,  I look at it.  It has a translucent quality because of the transparency of the horse and the orange and yellow ocher spots glow on the pale blue ground. Simple, elegant, vibrant. Looking at it, I experience a feeling of deep pleasure and quiet gratitude.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Woman with Blue Arms 2019

As an artist, I'm always walking the fine line between control and letting things happen.  It's a fine, razor edge kind of a deal. Too much letting things happen and I get a chaotic mess, too much control and I get lifeless.  The first part of losing control happens with my painting:  I push, pull, and throw the paint, completely turning over to whatever properties the paint or surface has--  drippy, stiff, runny, bright, dull or vibrant.  I let whatever feelings I'm feeling take over: angry, sad, happy, bored, indifferent, excited, frustrated, proud. Paint is everywhere, my shoes taking the biggest hit. The next part is building the image--not as wild a ride, but still a delicate balance of finding what works with what might not work; guessing, hunching, thinking, and going back and forth from my collection of photos on paper to the ones on my computer or camera, or to my collection of painted papers, printed pages, insides of envelopes, or scrapbook pads from Michael's Stores. There's a lot.  And if I've been good, and if the Art Gods know that I've really and truly abandoned any ideas that I may have started with, I may just end up with a wonderfully strange and unexpectedly beautiful image.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Nick and Bob Laughing 1983

Aside from my innate drive to draw horses, one of the biggest influences I had as a young artist was my mother's marriage to Nick, a Greek man who worked as a waiter at night and painted during the day.  He and my mother married when I was 9 years old.  https://hollyrobertsonepaintingatatime.blogspot.com/2016/07/nick-teasing-1981.html

He was fun, he was a great cook, and he lived life to the fullest. He learned to drive not long after meeting my mother and would drive us cross county in our old pickup truck, recklessly bouncing over arroyos and sagebrush, always stuck in whatever gear he happened to last use, us kids shrieking in the back with delight and fear,  We had dogs and a sheep, huge vegetable gardens, and he was always working (not so expertly it turns out) on our house or properties they had bought. But after 17 years of marriage, it all fell apart.  It was a hateful breakup, full of acrimony and spite.  All that was petty and small in both my mother and in Nick emerged and they would never be friends again.  However, Nick stayed in our lives, more my father than my biological father ever had been. He retired from his job with the state(no longer the bohemian artist)and traveled the world with a backpack full of vitamins and a change of underwear, making friends wherever he went.

Unfortunately, his bad relationship with my mother would come back to haunt me.  In the last ten years of his life, he began to be cold, rude  and abrupt with me.  It seemed that he was confusing me with my mother, and now, with hindsight, we realized that it signaled the beginning of his dementia. He died at the age of 91, peacefully--if death is ever peaceful.  He couldn't see, could barely hear, and his memory was mostly gone, yet one of the last things he told my sister was that he wanted to live to be 100.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ramey 1993

I've been going through my old black and white negatives and scanning some of them into my computer.  I have thousands, so it means looking through lots of contact sheets and identifying the ones that, for whatever reason, speak to me. I then (carefully) pull them out of their plastic holders and drop them onto the glass of my scanner.  It takes some time for them to scan, so I wait patiently and try and remember to file them correctly so I can find them once they are in my computer. In years past, I would print the images out in my darkroom, then(heavily) paint over them with oil paints.  Now, however, I'm looking for something different, but, I'm not sure what that is.

I'm not taking many photographs these days.  I have the feeling when I pick up my camera that I've already taken that picture, already seen how that particular thing would look as a photograph. In looking through these old negatives, I'm impressed by just how many not very good photos there are. The quality of the photograph never really affected the painted photo that followed since the paint changed the nature of the image so much.  Underexposed, overexposed, dirty negative--as my friends liked to point out, it didn't really matter since I was going to paint over the photo anyway. However,  there are some quite wonderful ones which have never been seen.  I may have to see what I can do about that.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Father Book 1997

"As a young man, he found it difficult to pull himself together"



 
  "During his middle years, he kept to himself"


 "As he aged, he felt the noose growing tighter and tighter"

Relationships with fathers can be problematic.

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Falling Sky III


 
I make my living primarily though selling my work and teaching workshops around the country.  The teaching is fairly seamless:  I enjoy teaching, and people like working with me. I'm invited to teach at different schools and art centers, and with many of these places, I go back year after year.  However, galleries are a different beast. I have a long history with gallery representation starting in my twenties--I was with two of my galleries for over 20 years. But nothing stays the same.  As Heidi Klum of Project Runway liked to say, "One day you're in, and the next day, you're out!" Because galleries are so often the only feed back we have in the success of our work, if we aren't showing/selling we began to feel that what we are doing isn't valid, and we take this lack of sales as personally as is humanly possible.  As artists, instead of thinking as an adult in the business world would, we react like children who aren't receiving the love we (so desperately) need. We began to tumble down the stairway of self doubt, and before we know it, we are splayed on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, broken and bleeding

But, like the children we really are, we don't know any other way, so we pull ourselves up off the "failure" floor and continue to make more work, thinking that there must be some magic trick that will make the work popular, sell like crazy and allow us to feel validated. Of course there isn't a magic trick, but a combination of making good, original work, and finding the right people to support and believe in what we do who are at the same time competent and capable marketers.  And of course, we ourselves have to learn those same skills in marketing ourselves, distasteful and onerous as it seems to most of us.