A while back I posted this painting under the tentative title The View, which I didn't like because it reminded me of that talk show with Barbara Walters, and I'd like to keep her as far away from my artwork as humanly possible. I also posted this on deviantART. It's kind of a silly place sometimes, and I'd like to see less "artistic nudes" if you know what I mean, but I've gotten to see the work of some interesting people and gotten friendly with a few of them.
Anyway, on dA, I told people to suggest new titles and today I got one. The lovely and talented Lolita A GoGo suggested The Valley, based on the landscape and the V shape between the two skullheads. Since the landscape is based on where I live (in a valley), I thought it was perfect. So this painting is now officially called The Valley.
...I mean, why wouldn't you? They're always smiling! I'm tentatively calling this painting The View, but as that's the name of a fairly odious daytime talkshow, I'm not sure if I can commit to it. Hopefully something better will come to me, but for now, that's it's name. Actually, though, in speech I rarely call any of my paintings by name, and would refer to this one as "that one with the skullheads and the red floaty trees." Something about calling my paintings by name in a conversational setting seems pretentious to me.
My camera, in other news, is working when it feels like it, and thankfully felt like it for the shooting of this painting. My current hypothesis? Gnomes.
Here are some drawings I did sometime in the spring. They are all about 5 in. X 7 in., ink (pen) on paper. Extremely. Meticulously. Rendered. I don't know how long these tiny things took me. I mainly worked on them during downtime at the old coffee shop. Which gives you an idea of how business went there.
All three are based on real places, and are in effect an iteration of my current interest in landscapes and memory as place. This is, in effect, how I remember those places. Certain features remain prominent, or are made more prominent, and others have been erased entirely. I wasn't interested in recreating a realistic record of the place (though, when I compare these to the images in my little head, they could be considered accurate renderings. Don't make fun of my brain.), or an image that would be instantly recognizable to others. I was more interested in capturing the feeling of the place. That is not to say, however, that these are entirely impulsive pieces; the images as I see them in my head have quite bright colors, but I left them out of the drawings for the sake of the compositions, since color would overwhelm the delicacy of the lines.
Hopefully I'll be able to post some actual paintings sometime soon. They just take so long.
Long ago, like, sometime in July, I introduced the the hoodie as a staple of my painting symbolism. Here are some more of them. These, like The Protector, The Discovery of a False Moon, and the other paintings on patterned cloth, these three are part of a body of work I call the Home project, which I discussed in the same posting in which I discussed The Protector as being a study of origins, so to speak, exploring the symbols developed in childhood and how they inform life as an adult. The images concentrate on memory as a space, with the objects within that space taking on a symbolic existence, standing in for people, concepts and emotions. HINT: The hoodies are all me. I wear hoods a lot.
From the top:
The Homestead, oil and collage on patterned cotton. Featured here is a homey bird, a plump, goose-like fowl that symbolizes being at home and being content there. We also have more floating trees, which are less involved with symbolism and more a reflection of how I remember treed areas--I can visually recollect the canopies, but often the trunks get forgotten. Basically this is what it looks like in my head when I remember areas with trees. I'm not weird you're weird. Anyway, incorporated into the image are scans of nineteenth-century photographs. (The originals are mounted on a thick cardboard, and I didn't like the idea of using the originals anyway) The photographs came in an album as a gift, and I am completely unrelated to any of the sitters. The painting is about the concept of home, what makes a home and what happens to a home when it is left and its inhabitants forgotten.
The Reunion, oil and collage on patterned cotton. I still don't know how I feel about the name. Besides just being a hoodie, this one is a skullheaded hoodie, or a skullhoodie. I amuse myself. The general reaction, when I showed this, was "Oh, how cute, a little fawn--WHY DOES SHE HAVE A SKULL FACE THAT'S FRIGHTENING." Collage elements are silver leaves, bought on a whim from an art supply store. This is something of a companion piece to the painting below, and deals with the idea of reconnecting with the past version(s) of oneself as a result of introspection, or as a link to personal understanding.
The Bone Gatherer, oil on patterned cloth. Hoodies and deer again. This is kind of the precursor to The Reunion, about delving into, and at times confronting, one's past as a way to figure things out for the future. It's the same hoodie, too, although in The Reunion she seems to have lost her boots. I'm quite pleased with the way the birch trees came out--they have many a layer of white and purple-black glaze.
So basically, the Home project is something of an attempt to communicate to the outside world what it looks like in my head; these are, in a way, still shots of how I remember and imagine (and some combination thereof) things. I'm surprised, in a way, but also quite pleased, with the fact that I am finally able to create these images. There are more Home pieces in the works, though I've been shamefully remiss about my painting. This whole having-a-job thing really cuts into my painting time...
Due to the fact that I have not yet installed a decent photo editing program onto my new computer, I can't upload the new photos of the newest (complete) paintings without their having a weird white space where I've cropped the pictures. So here is the latest of the old photos, a painting called The Protector. As we saw in The Discovery of a False Moon, there are some floating trees. Unlike some of the other symbols, I don't really know why I like the floating trees so much.
The figure on the left is a Hoodie. I started drawing these hooded silhouette girls about a year ago, and they are essentially symbols of myself--shorthand self-portraits, I guess. The deer-headed man is my dad, because I associate him with deer. Disney's Bambi was my favorite movie as a child, and Bambi's family structure basically mirrored my own at the time. Therefore my dad has antlers. I also was under the impression that Bambi started life as a girl and grew up to be male. Anyway, deer and hoodies, as well as some other symbols, show up later in the body of work that includes The Discovery of a False Moon, the Huntington paintings, and Croton Point, that is collectively called Home. The concept behind Home is memory and personal symbolism, or the way that children, and later adults, use specific images and objects to inform more nebulous aspects of their lives. For me, for example, deer with antlers are symbols of my father. Home is still in the works, with a few more paintings planned. I seem to have three veins in which I work: the Home style, sort of soft and faded, with dense patterning and natural settings, the medieval style that has broad areas of jewel tones, and a bright pink and glittery style that I haven't unveiled yet (mwahaha) that I'm calling the "trashy" style. There are similarities between the three modes, and the symbols found in Home appear in the others, and I think to an extent they each reflect an aspect of my person.
The Protector is oil and neo-megilp glaze (yes, that is really what it is called and I have no idea why). Neo megilp was called "atmosphere in a bottle" by a painting teacher of mine and she was quite right. It creates a soft, filmy glaze and it dries fast. I love stand oil, but the speed at which this stuff dries is amazing. The patterns on the figures were traced from a piece of wrapping paper.
So as soon as I can figure out/feel like getting the other pictures together, I'll put them up. Till then...
;There was a time when you couldn't pay me to do a landscape painting. They seemed like the default painting subject, after vases of flowers and bowls of fruit. Even the standard naked lady was more interesting. I grew up in the Hudson Valley in southern New York, home to the Hudson River School of painters, who, in the romantic period of the nineteenth century, sought to celebrate the sublime by painting immense landscapes of the area, and of other grand vistas around the USA. Needless to say, they were the subject of many a school trip. So maybe that was what turned me off to landscape painting. There is also, to be honest, something distasteful to me about the macho, plein-air painter swaggering around the countryside.
To be fair, though, when you live in a place as beautiful as the Hudson Valley, I suppose landscapes become part of you.
Even if you don't live here, landscapes are part of you.
There are, after all, landscapes everywhere.
Even inside your head. Especially inside your head.
It's something I've been thinking about--the landscapes that exist inside the psyche, how feelings and memories can be imagined and depicted as places, and how places or images of places can evoke certain feelings. Typically, for me, these places are represented by images of the natural(ish) world, usually involving trees and expanses of land. Lately, I've been particularly liking fields. Particularly fields bordered by dark trees, which is likely owed to the fact that all the fields around here are bordered by trees, this being the deciduous-forest-covered Eastern seaboard. Around here, woods are the normal natural state, and fields are something of a break from that. There may be a psychological reason for this, too, with fields representing the known and the visible, and the woods representing the unknown and the hidden (something that may have informed the Woods series as well).
The top image is a painting I made in 2009 called The Discovery of a False Moon. It is based on a photograph I took on a field in New Paltz, NY, where I went to school. It was daylight, and the clover was blooming. There was a university building across the street with a clock that lit up at night, and at first glance resembled the full moon. Lots of stand oil, very shiny. Next is a typical view off my back porch in early September. You can see the Hudson River in a small silver sliver (say that 5 times fast) near the middle. Next is a shot of Croton Point Park in Croton, NY. The park sticks out into the water, and there is a big artificial hill that is actually a capped garbage dump. Since the soil is not deep, no trees can grow, and so the land on the hill is completely different than the surrounding land, this big, arid bump surrounded by woods. You can see the normal ecosystem across the water. The last two shots were taken about a week ago in Rockwood Hall, which is part of the Rockefeller Preserve in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Early evening, as the park was closing and all the deer were out. They look up for pictures if you call them.
What I like about all of these images is their composition. It's classically bad. If you notice, they all have a horizon line in just about the middle of the image. Apparently, you aren't supposed to do that. But the photographs came out that way unintentionally (swear). And anyway, that's how vistas are seen by humans--there's above and there's below and they meet in the middle. Therefore False Moon and other, later paintings have a horizon line than generally bisects the painting. Later landscapes also have the phenomenon of the floating trees, which I will get into later.