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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Girl with No Hair 2019

Years ago I found a photograph of a young woman in a bathrobe.  I think it was in a newspaper, but I'm not sure.  I can't remember where the photo was taken, or what it was about, just that I loved the honest intensity of her gaze and her bald head. So I cut it out and kept it.

Recently I found out about the death of another student of mine from breast cancer,  Suzanne Simpson. Suzanne took several of my workshops at Anderson Ranch in Colorado, both three week immersives.  She was chronically late for the start of the workshops(by many days), but, once she showed up, she was there.  She was warm, engaging, and loved helping the other students, which was sometimes a problem because she wouldn't get to her own work.  She could perseverate for days on a piece, and would often start completely over if it wasn't exactly right(which made me a little crazy). She did several pieces that were absolutely exquisite; small paintings that combined a cracked surface with a new technique we were just learning, emulsion transfers.

I only found out about her death recently, even though she died over a year and a half ago.  It was a shock to think that she wouldn't be showing up in anymore of my workshops.  I'll miss her.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Bucking Bronco 2019 (three versions)

 Version 1:  My husband, Bob, whose life is very much a kind of joyous wild ride

 Version 2: My eldest daughter who has a very stressful, high powered job, and while she loves it, it's pretty wild.

Version 3:  Me, on the wild ride as well, but more complacent or just resigned to it.

The entire image has been completed, except for the heads.  I'm leaning towards Bob's head.  Possibly it's the most fun.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Making the Universe(Adam and Eve)and Making the Universe(the Beasts) 2010

One of the biggest problems I have, after 40 years of making images, is that I just have too much.  Too much to store, too much to keep track of, too much to leave to my daughters when I die. Today, while going through my digital files, I came across two pieces that I did in 2010.  I had decided they weren't good enough to keep, so they were gessoed over and then made into new paintings. Now, looking at the two, I find myself  thinking, "What the hell was going on with you? How could you have painted over these?".  I love the pattern paper that makes up  the background in both images, for both the physical reality of the lines and the conceptual one of using an image that is all about making something else.  The snake on God's very red chest, and the apple falling from his hand in Adam and Eve give us clear clues as to what this is all about. The stories are strong: at the same time that God is sending the two errant humans out of the garden, he is creating sky, trees, and birds and clouds as well.  With  Beasts he gently urges the elephants out of the flower they have been gestating  in while a huge yellow sun glows in the background.  In both images God is nerdy, but clearly well meaning(but maybe not the best dresser). There is nothing about these two paintings that I don't love, yet they no longer exist except as digital images. And at least now, there are two more paintings that I don't have to worry about.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Wolf at the Door 1998

To Keep the Wolf from the Door: to have just enough money to be able to eat and live, Cambridge Dictionary.

A few days ago we received a card from a long time friend.  Along with a picture of the family, and a recounting of the year's travels and adventures, it also stated that our friend had been diagnosed with (stage 2) ovarian cancer.  She wrote on the card, "Big white waves ahead for us.  And here we go!".  This is not the first friend to be diagnosed with cancer.  Recently, my husband counted four friends who, in the past two years, have been diagnosed and treated for cancers, all serious, including a young, recently married mother diagnosed with breast cancer.  On my side, I  have a friend's sister who is literally, at death's door, and another friend who died last year of pancreatic cancer. The wolf is at the door, although different for everyone. For my mother it is being made frantic at not being able to turn the TV off because she has confused the phone for the remote. For my husband it was a DVT in his leg a year and a half ago, and for a young friend it was his mother being hit by a motorist while on her bicycle, left in a coma for weeks. I could go on and on.  We all have these stories, they just seem to be coming faster and more furiously.  I don't think we can keep the wolf from the door.  He's coming.  Be ready.