Sunday, May 21, 2023

Man Kneeling 2016

 Automatic writing, also called psychography, is a claimed psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. Practitioners engage in automatic writing by holding a writing instrument and allowing alleged spirits to manipulate the practitioner's hand. The instrument may be a standard writing instrument, or it may be one specially designed for automatic writing, such as a planchette or a ouija board. *Wikipedia

Although I didn't use an ouija board, I like to think of this style of painting as "Autonomic".  I start by covering the entire surface of a panel with acrylic paint. Then, while the paint is wet, after having dipped my bush into black India ink, I start a line drawing.  The process demands that I begin with an  empty mind(never an easy accomplishment) since I don't know what the drawing is to be until the lines start to reveal themselves.  If I make an error, or don't like a particular part of the drawing, then I have to start over, repainting the entire background over the wet ink lines.The process is both physically and emotionally taxing.  The paint dries quickly, so I have a small window of time to work in, and if any part of the drawing doesn't work I have to, essentially, begin again with only a faint idea of what came before--all this with an empty mind!  There is no erasing or correcting  because any added lines or erasures after it dries change the entire surface of the painting. But, the smudges and smears of the first, second, or third drawings make the surface that much richer and juicier even as I bemoan the loss of the drawing as I cover it over with new paint.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Green Pony 2023

I purchased a Wacom tablet to help me create better images in my computer, but it turns out I like drawing with my bar of soap aka the mouse better.  Working with a mouse and a screen is difficult for me, with  almost no fluidity.  When an image does appear, it comes in fits and starts, coming and going, sometimes with my permission, sometimes not.  The layers of Photoshop are always jumping around, so as I'm working on one layer, some little demon pops up and shifts everything around. I'm also plagued by using a very old version of Photoshop, so that when something goes wrong I don't know if its me or if it's cranky old CS4. However, something does seem to be happening. I'm slowly beginning to gather the vocabulary and familiarity with the tools in PS to be able to make images that have their own life and their own idea of where they want to go.  The brushes are beginning to make sense, and more than that, the results are fun and often times, unexpected.  The colors are wild and wonderful.  As their clumsy conduit, the images are starting to tell me what they need and, more importantly, what they don't, and, as always, I'm listening. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Demon Head Smoking 2015

I use Adobe Photoshop on a daily basis, but that's not to say I'm any good at it.  I've taken lots of classes, but the problem is that, if you don't use what you've learned, POOF, it's gone, or at least gone from my very right brained mind .An instructor of mine compared PS to a very big, complex city, but that the only way to learn to get about in that city is to learn your immediate neighborhood, and go from there.  My PS neighborhood is about one block square and I only go out to the corner store for eggs, milk, and bread. With this in mind, in 2015, I went about trying to make my neighborhood a little bigger.  I started making images in Photoshop, in the computer, not painting, cutting and pasting onto panels as I'd always done.  The learning curve was huge, and my neck and shoulders would be frozen by the end of a four hour or longer work period.  I "drew" with my mouse, which is like drawing with a bar of soap, and at the same time learned about these magical "brushes" that would make strange and fabulous marks.  I had to learn to use layers, and not to forget which layer I was on as I stumbled along.  The one thing that was the same was the use of my photos.  I would always start these images with a photograph underneath, and then, just as always, I would use the interaction of photoshop and the under lying photo to build the image.  These images live in the computer, and when they exist outside of the computer, they are seen as archival pigment prints, with small edition sizes.  I stopped doing them because the world didn't seem very interested, but I do love them--quirky, strange--a wonderful combination of skill and blunder.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Man at the Table 1995

I have been going through my work updating images of the older pieces I have.  Originally I shot slides(Kodachrome), and did the best I could using a black cloth as a backdrop and natural light.  As I slowly entered the digital world, I learned to shoot digitally and to use Photoshop but I had 20 years of slides that had to be scanned and then transferred into my computer. It's these images that I am re-shooting now, 30 years later..

It's been an interesting journey for me, revisiting these older images.  I have been absolutely astonished at their power and beauty--their strength and complexity.  "Man at the Table" was made during the Bosnian war, and was about the "peace negotiations" which were ongoing and never ending. Everyday we would watch images on the TV of the violence, the destruction and the atrocities between the Bosnians and the Serbs.  And now, sadly, almost 30 years later, the same horrific images are filling our screens with the war in the Ukraine. This image, unfortunately, is still timely. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Story: Real or Not so Much 2023

                                               "The Bear", Douglas McDonald, 7"x10" 1st place

                                            Story: Real—Or Not So Much

Juror’s Statement

Holly Roberts

January 20, 2023

 For four days I lived with 635 entries for the juried show, “Story: Real-or not so Much”.  Each morning and each afternoon, I would go over the entries numerous times, each time eliminating more artists from the mix and at night I would dream about the images.  My goal was to select 60 wall pieces and 4 sculptures because this is what the gallery had room for.  The process was blind—meaning I didn’t know the names of the artists—to help me be as objective as possible in choosing the work.  Having been on both sides of the fence with this process before, both as artist and as juror, I knew how hard it would be to receive the “unfortunately…” letter, and I also knew that the job of choosing was completely my personal vision in what I felt to be outstanding art.

I had a few rough rules: no more than one piece by each artist and anything that I felt that was sweet, or cute, or too pretty was out. What I wanted in this show was work that was fun to look at, that was beautifully crafted, honest in its intent, and professionally presented.  I was thrilled by the end result: a show that, while curated with my sensibilities, is far reaching in its scope. Because of the diversity of the  work that the title of the call, “Story: Real—or not so Much”, pulled in, it allowed for just about anything. I am a figurative artist, and because of this probably leaned more towards the figurative, but still found wonderful abstract pieces to include. It was not an easy task, selecting these 67 artists, but one that, at the end of the day, I was very proud to have been a part of.


Friday, December 30, 2022

Dream Ride 2007

When we first moved back to New Mexico in 1992,  I met and became good friends with one of our neighbors, most probably because we shared the same very black sense of humor.  In 2007 she asked me to do a commission based on a large painting she had seen in my studio called "Mud Truck". When her father had died, her three sisters had attempted to keep her from inheriting her share of his very large estate through various means of trickery and chicanery.  It didn't work, because, after a long court battle, she won.  And this is what the painting is about:  my neighbor, driving her cloud car with her three "pious"( but really evil) sisters in the back floating over a wasteland of bodies and trash.  The car is made of clouds and trumpeting angels, the tires are teeth, the exhaust hundreds of small bodies floating away.  Six signs guide her way,: a pedestrian walking sign, a stop sign, a one way sign(pointing the wrong way), a road closed sign(with graffiti), a do not pass sign, and a sign reminding us not to throw litter in this trash strewn landscape. On the side of the car is writing that says, ironically,  "Love Me". The painting is all about greed, and the triumph of good over evil. She was able to use her inheritance to buy, among other things, a number of my paintings, including this one.  This fall her husband called me to let me know that she had died.  I wish that I would have written this blog before she passed.  I know she would have loved it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Barefoot Riders 2013

Barefoot Rider(Girl) 49"x41"  

Barefoot Rider(Boy) 48"x45"

The “Barefoot Riders” series is about the journeys we take in life: what we are given to start with and what we will encounter along the way.  “Barefoot Rider (Girl)” is the portrait of a young friend whose mother immigrated from Mexico.  Although born and raised in the United States, she grew up in a home with no father present, where Spanish was the primary language, with a grandmother who didn’t speak English and a mother who had to learn the language in order to support the family. The white horse she is riding has shuttered eyes, letting us know that her journey has not always been clear or easy.

Barefoot Rider (Boy)” is also about life’s journey, in this case a young indigenous boy with a monk’s tonsure. His mount, also white, has no bridle, and only a whip in the boy’s hand to guide the two.  Both riders and their mounts are constructed of imagery drawn from multiple sources.  Trees, sticks and earth combine with part of a Navajo rug make up the Girl’s horse while a cluster of flowers make the saddle.  The Boy and his horse are made of different elements, including lava rocks and urban graffiti—elements somewhat harsher than the Girl’s. By being aware of what the horses and their riders are made of, it’s possible to see the bits and pieces of two life journeys, similar yet very different.