Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Horse Being Led 1993

As a little girl, I was very dependent on my bottle, and at the age of 4, still lugged it around with me all of the time.  My parents realized that an intervention was needed, and the bargaining began.  When the dust settled, the bottle was gone, and I was the proud owner of a new pair of cowboy boots, important symbols of the equine world that I so identified with.  My earliest memories are of horses--not dolls to play with, but plastic, life-like horses instead. My childhood from the age of six on was always with a horse in my life--friend, confidant, love object, and most importantly, giving me the freedom, whenever and wherever I wanted, to take off on my own.

On a trip to California to teach a workshop in the early nineties, I ended up staying with a couple who would become lifelong friends.  Julie owned several horses, among them a very large German Warmblood called a Westfalen. Frisco was absolutely beautiful, but, enormous.  I mean, enormous.  We saddled him up and I rode him with Julie coaching me in basic dressage.  It was a horse experience that I had never had before.  His size and power were almost overwhelming, but at the same time, all the things I loved about riding, just magnified.  Beauty, power, and strength all alive under my legs and seat, the horse being controlled by thin leather straps attached to his mouth(of course, being well trained, the bridle and rains were only a small part of my communication with him) with the ground a dizzying distance away.  This image is from that day, Julie having been shrunk down to child size, and Frisco, so very large and powerful, yet still willing and ready to do whatever Julie asks of him.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

After the Operation 1984

I want to say to my daughters, as they get a little older and began to form serious relationships, that these are the things that you need to look for in a partner:  He needs to be kind, very kind, and he needs to always put your needs ahead of his.  He should be a good person.  He needs to be funny, and quirky, and to also have something about him that is mysterious to you, that you will never really understand, so that you won't get bored or complacent as the relationship matures. He should be able to do a good job of caring for you and the children that you will (hopefully) have.  And lastly, he should have a goofy side so that you can have fun together, especially when you don't expect it.

I found this picture of my husband Bob, and I realized that this portrait captured all of those things that I would hope my daughters would find in their life partners.  His giant 80's glasses, the stethoscope that doesn't really work in the normal way, the mask and cap which keep all germs from the little snake that he has just operated on, being held so carefully and lovingly in his odd, plaid hands.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sperm and Ovum 2006

Sometimes you do a painting and you know that you will own it forever, that it's probably not going to be sold or possibly even shown, but you just have to do it.  Sperm and Ovum is one of those pieces.  It birthed itself, starting with the loose, dreamy painted surface, the black drips heading one way and the greenish yellow swirls another.  The Ovum is from a photograph of a large barbed wire ball that I have used countless times(and had it not been so big and unyielding, I would have put it in the back of my truck and brought it home when I first saw it along highway 528 --it was that stunningly beautiful).  The sperm all have different personalities, all with heads of different people I know or liked their image of -- friends, family, or people who just looked interesting that happened my way.

I think if I were better at marketing I would head for some OB/GYN's office and try to pedal Sperm and Ovum, but I know they probably wouldn't want it.  TMI: too explicit and too suggestive of too many things, even though this painting is about the very thing that makes their business-the process of conception(or at least my version of it).  My rational part understands why Sperm and Ovum has never been chosen for anything, but my artist part, which is about five years old, can't understand why  the entire world isn't clamoring for this funny--but also mysterious--painting.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bones 2009

Usually when I send a painting out into the world and it sells, I'm not able to know what happens to that painting:  who owns it, where it hangs, how it looks, how the people who own it feel about it.  In this case I had the great fortune of being invited to the home of the owners of Bones when I was in San Diego this past weekend for an opening of my work at the Museum of Photographic Arts, http://www.mopa.org/ .  Bones had been donated to a fund raiser for MOPA, and the owners had bought it from the auction.

Bones resides in a small bungalow not far from the ocean, and just a stone's throw from a lovely inland marsh.  The home had been remodeled by the owners so that the tiny rooms were opened up and extended.  In addition to the renovations to the main house, a small two room house(we would call it a "casita" here in New Mexico)had been built in the back yard.  The third building on the small lot was an office that had been made by lifting the roof of the garage, and turning it into a modern, open space with clean lines and a loft along one side.  What had once been a scruffy dirt yard had been turned into a lush garden of succulents and cactus.  The house felt completely Southern Californian to me, and from the the loft in the office we could see the ocean. The home, the yard, the little house and the office all seemed like works of art in and of themselves.

The painting hung in the living room.  I hadn't seen it in several years, since it had been with my gallery in San Francisco  http://www.modernbook.com/  since 2009.  I took great pleasure in looking at the image again--that of an alligator/crocodile whose body was made from deer bones and gnarled roots, and the paint was richer and denser then I remembered. I had done the painting while I lived in Virginia, and  it reminded me of the feeling I had of being swallowed by the dense vegetation, the abundant and fecund life that exists when you have lots of water available.   The three of us stood in front of the small painting and looked at it and discussed it's parts and pieces, like proud parents discussing the merits of their odd child. I realized that they loved Bones as much as I did, and it felt tremendously good to know that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cowboy with Yellow 2008

One of the biggest pleasures in my life is teaching.  I teach professionally, and I teach personally.  If a friend needs to learn to ride a horse, I'm at the ready.  If someone else is having difficulty with their skiing and can't get their snowplow right, I'm there as "Inga".  It's some gene in me that just never seems to switch off, and I do love it.

I teach workshops around the country that have to do with what I do:  combining paint and collage.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Holly-Roberts-Art/184875581524827Generally when I do a workshop, I never make my own work.  However, I have done several workshops at Anderson Ranch that are intensives.The students in those classes are fairly well along in what they are doing so they don't need me as much.  I have made images in those workshops, and have tried to set up parameters so that I'm not working in my usual fashion:  no photos of my own, no computer or printer to work from, and I "borrow" other people's paints and brushes. I'm also used to working absolutely alone, so to have people all around me, watching what I'm doing, is very disconcerting.

This small image was done during one of those intensives.  I did a demonstration on how to apply crackle to a surface, and then decided to use pictures from an art magazine to form the image.   One of the things my students and I talk quite a bit about, in making collage, is when it's okay to use someone else's images, and when it's stealing and/or in violation of copyright. I felt this was a good example of what's okay.  I used other people's images, but not duplicating what they did, just using their material to inform what I'd made.  So, this slightly paunchy cowboy,  made from bones and constellations, emerged with his substantial belly, and small, pointy cowboy boots.  I think this is most likely a portrait of my friend Kay(of the heart attack).   http://hollyrobertsonepaintingatatime.blogspot.com/2011/12/man-with-heart-attack-1989.html .

Friday, February 3, 2012

Giant Being Chased 2009

When I fly, I always try to procure a seat that will allow me to take photos. That means a window seat fairly distant from the wing so my view isn't obstructed. I have fallen in love with watching the landscape that passes beneath me, and I'm especially fond of flying over the Western part of the country because of the huge expanses of desert.  I know I'm seeing the bones of the earth. However, as with most things, as much as I love looking and taking pictures of the world below me, I'm also  appalled at how there are almost no areas that we have left undisturbed.

For the photos that I used for this particular image, I had taken an early morning flight from Tucson to Albuquerque.  The sun made the shadows long, which caused the pinon and juniper trees below us  to pop, little, uneven dots with stripes of  roads and arroyos bisecting the trees. I understand now that what I was referring to was the feeling of being a giant, of looking down at the world from so far away.  But at the same time, I gave the giant a body that is made up of the very things he is so much larger than:  he's part of it all.  The dog is made from asphalt with bits of the trees making up his legs and head.  But this isn't a good dog.  This is a road dog, wanting the world for himself.