Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A semester in review

So, it certainly has been a while. Due to the craziness of senior year, my blog fell to the wayside, sadly neglected and unattended. I've finally made it back home to Colorado and I have some time on my hands. 
Here are some selections from this semester's work, chronologically ordering the projects from most recent to earliest work: 

These first three paintings deal with memory, place, and a sense of home. Our ideas of home come from an accumulation of memories. We see a mountain and remember the colors of the rocks and the angle of the sun, but oddly enough, each of these memories recalls a particular instance that will never occur again. The world is constantly changing, and so are our homes. In a way, home is something you carry with you in memory, separate from the reality of the landscape. When I remember places, I think of the colors first, and so these paintings became semi-abstracted landscapes focusing on color and form, staying true to the identity of the place but amplifying the sense of color.
This is the last piece from this semester. I broke through some barriers on this one; never have I handled color in such an exciting way. This painting is of a backside view of Capital Peak, a 14er that I see every time I drive into Snowmass. It is truly an impressive peak, not only because it is one of the more deadly 14ers, but also because of its sheer walls that stand above the lake in the basin that it forms. The hike to Capital Lake is only 7 miles, but it holds a special importance for me because it was one of my first long hikes when I was younger. I remember being in awe of the enormous mountain when we arrived to the basin below the rock face.  
This painting really gave me a chance to explore the possibilities of abstraction to make a realistic form. This is a painting of the butte that stands above Grand Junction. The butte is the first indication that the mountains are coming as you drive eastward from Utah into Colorado. I had a lot of fun with the sedimentary fins and piles at the base of the butte.
This was the first of these three paintings. This painting represented a major shift in my painting style. Here, I forced myself to work continuously on a painting for an entire month; something I had never done before. I tend to like to work alla prima and to move quickly. This experience gave me a chance to explore a whole new vocabulary of technique. I enjoyed amplifying the colors and creating interesting textures over time. This painting is of the Needles section of Canyonlands.

These next few paintings (and this entire project, really) continue with the idea of home and landscape, but take it one step further. Because we carry our landscapes with us in our memory, they become a part of our identity and our very being. I wanted to draw that out, perhaps to illuminate what landscapes and memories reside inside individual people. 

So, I began to work directly on the skin of particular people. To begin, the subject would bring me a series of photos of a place that they truly felt connection, and as I painted my interpretation of the photos, they would tell me the story of that place. 

The best part about this technique is its transience. None of these works survives for longer than an hour. Just as our memories capture a particular moment in a constantly changing landscape, these paintings are caught by a camera, and then washed off. The painting, just like a memory, only exists as a snapshot, no longer existing outside of documentation.

This is a shot of Matt's back from the side.  There are some difficulties with painting on people. Acrylic paint does not really like skin. It doesn’t adhere well, dries in less than a minute, and cracks horribly. I however, enjoy the experience this creates for me as a painter. Working on skin forces me to make decisions quickly about blending, color, and composition. If I don’t get the paint down quickly, I can’t blend and whole chunks of paint come off on my brush. 

Matt's landscape...a mountain near Independence Pass as the sun goes down.
I wanted to include myself in this project, but painting on myself presented a whole new level of difficulty. In order to do so, I had to use a mirror and a reflected image. This was a difficult process; I had learn how to hold the brush differently, and I had to take the geography of my chest into account. Painting on the chest and breasts is slightly more confusing than painting on a back; there are many more contours.  My landscape is Mount Sopris.
Raya's back....her family's dock in White Lake, New York.
Emily's landscape...Chicago at night.

Another project from this semester was a series collaborative pieces with a friend, Madelyn Sullivan. Madelyn and I decided to work with natural materials to make structures that would foster a sense of community. Additionally, we were working within the concepts of home-building, and this manifested into two projects. 

The first was the Nest. I was interested in the idea of nesting in human terms. Nesting is an economic term, a pre-natal term, and a word to describe the way in which we organize our spaces in order to make them our own. We decided to pair that with the idea of a real nest, and ended up with an enormous bird-like nest that stood for 4 days on the Dudely Coe Quad in the center of campus. 

The second manifestation of the project came in a more functional form. Madelyn had recently taken a primitive living skills course and had learned to make debris shelters. These debris shelters can comfortably protect a person from the elements. They're quite toasty. The shelters stood for less the 24 hours, but they were enjoyed by many. Some people even slept out in them.

In both these projects we aimed to get the greater Bowdoin community involved in order to make the project larger than ourselves. We owe almost all our materials to the wonderful people at Grounds who helped us use the leaves and branches they collect from the campus. We also managed to attract passersby in the work, and we didn't really manage anyone, but rather we let the project take form under many hands. 

Madelyn in a completed shelter, ready for nap time.
Matt and Kirsten in a less functional shelter...this one became more of a fort. Two people could comfortably hang out in this shelter
Shelters in progress
The skeleton of the shelter is much like an overturned boat. The leaves provide insulation above this lattice  work of branches. They are quite sturdy.
People enjoying the leaf piles...our main material.
Completed Nest! I can put process photos of it up later if people are took about 6 hours to build.

The earliest work from the semester was really centered on transience and natural materials.
Here is a single leaf I painted with oil paint. I used blue because it seemed the most surprising color for an autumn leaf. The oil paint was quite resilient...the paint never came off the leaf fully. I noticed people checking this leaf out from time to time. This was an interesting (but failed, I think) project.
This is a leaf mobile I made using sticks and a color gradient of fall leaves. The leaves were then strung on wire and put into a spiral made of sticks. It moved quite nicely in the wind, but was not too ostentatious. This is just one mobile in a series of 4. The other four didn't turn out quite as nicely.
Another view of the leaf-mobile.
Mobile materials in my studio.

Friday, September 25, 2009

School is underway!

Hello! I know that it has been a while since my last post. Now that I am a full month into my senior year (yikes!) I thought it might be good to update on the status of my studio and work.
So far, I am working on two projects. Here are the brief outlines of each...

Independent Study Proposal.

This semester I plan to engage in a careful study of the collision between natural forces. I am specifically interested in the intersection spaces between opposing forces of nature and the happenings that surround these events. This will manifest in a number of multi media projects.

This is a rather large area of study, and I will limit my chosen forces of nature to those that enact some sort of decay or dissolution. For example, I plan to spend a great deal of time at the coast line looking at the merging of the sea with the land. I want to capture the rhythmic and repetitive movements of the waves against the rocks and work to mimic this ongoing process though paint. This may take the form of abstraction, but possibly I may wish to work in the field in a more systematic and traditional way.

Another possible set of opposing forces will be the onset of fall itself. I want to go out and explore the inner workings of the natural world as it falls into decay. The death of plant life, the change of color, and the feeling of the oncoming time of dormancy are all aspects of dissolution that I wish to engage. I will have to further narrow this area of interest to make the ideas for focused, but I plan on looking at the movement of things during the autumn. The movement of falling leaves comes to mind, as well as the way humans manipulate the landscape in preparation for winter, such as stacking hay, piling leaves, etc.

In a more structured sense, I want to try and accomplish these things: 1) I want to incorporate natural materials into my work (sand, rocks, leaves, etc) 2) I want to work on non-traditional surfaces (doors, chairs, scrap wood) 3) I want to work traditionally while the good weather holds and spend some time in the field. I will see where this all takes me.

My second proposal is for my senior seminar.....

Project proposal (beginning ideas)


This semester I want to use the senior seminar to broaden my artistic horizons in a number of ways. Jumping from the trajectory of my summer’s work, I want to engage in a series of careful observation studies of movement. In a very, very broad sense, I specifically want to look at the movement of the non-human world in comparison with the movement of people.            

I will categorize non-human as anything from wind, leaves, water, rocks or clouds. The people-movements I am interested with are those where humans are directly interacting with the natural world and the various devices they use to do so. It will be intriguing to watch the differences in human movement as the weather gets worse this semester. I am also interested in the ways in which humans assert themselves over the natural world (farming, gardening, raking leaves, etc.).

However, I am most concerned with the non-human world due to the inherent rhythms and chaos that exist in nature, often occurring side by side. For example, water crashes against the rocks of the coast, forming completely random spray and foam patterns, and yet there is some order in the approach of the waves, however marginal.

I am still unsure how I truly plan to engage this subject, but I do know a few things:

1) I want to do a few installation pieces while the weather is still nice.

2) I want to work on discarded wood, such as old doors, chairs, etc.

3) I will probably work in paint part of the time.

4) I plan to experiment with sculpture.

5) I would like to learn how to weld.

6) I would like to sew leaves together for an installation.


I will concurrently working on engaging the idea of entropy, decay, and dissolution in my independent study. I will be spending a bit of time at the coast and also probably watching farmers further inland. That being said, it is possible that I may be using the same sources for the two veins of work, but I do not intend for these projects to have similar outcomes. I do this so that my life is a bit more manageable and so I can spend a fair bit of time at my research sites and not have to worry about scurrying off to separate places for the separate projects.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Going Big

It's been a few days since I last updated, but I certainly have been busy. I pretty much left caution to the wind and went all out with these last few pieces...and I can't remember ever having more fun painting. 
The work pretty much speaks for itself, but I would preface it with some context. Throughout the summer I've been combating the generalized, commodified images propagated by the Maine tourist industry. I've sought to see past prescribed "scenic" or "beautiful" views and instead look for the ephemeral, the fleeting, specific experience. 
In these paintings I think I have moved past the parameters of simple landscape and moved towards an idea...the notion that each moment that nature is experienced is singular, irreplaceable and un-reproducible. The interaction between the viewer and the object is a personal, almost intimate suspension of time. 

I hope these paintings also suspend time and insist on specificity. They certainly demand your attention. 

One half of the Sunset/Red Tide diptych.....this will be hung horizontally, but I quite liked the daunting effect the painting has when it is standing vertical. The painting is 8' x 5' 2".   
Bottom half of the diptych. These photos do not do justice to the complexity of these works, there are layers upon layers of paint and ink, wet into wet mixing, and raised lines of thrown paint. 
Now imagine this sideways.....
Hands down my favorite painting. Somehow it resembles a nebula, but I prefer to think of it as bio-luminescence or perhaps what is going on in my brain while I paint. All abstraction has an element of reality in it, and those little tidbits are my element of the Real in this one. 
Bio-luminescence and Wave 1 together. I think they belong as such. 
The building process....this was actually really fun because I got to use power tools, but also somewhat unfortunate because I got a shard of wood in my eye. Even though I was wearing protective lenses. WORST PAIN EVER. Thank goodness Matt isn't squeamish and didn't mind fishing it out of my eye with a q-tip several hours later. 
A detail of Sunset/Red Tide in process....
Another detail
Sunset/Red tide was actually one piece of canvas to start but logically, aesthetically  and functionally it made sense to make it into two pieces. (I couldn't have gotten it out of the building in one piece.)
Wave first home-made stretchers were used on this one. I'm still figuring those out, but there is something so empowering about taking lumber and making it into something I want. Even if every time I go to Home Depot the lumber men are astonished a girl (in a skirt!!) wants to buy so much wood. 
Smaller pieces....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Rhythms

This week I've been working large, doing some really exciting action painting. I've been looking at Pollock a lot, researching in books and watching videos, and I'm working with some of his premises and trying to make them into my own. One of the best parts of working in this way is the quality of mark I'm able to make. I can directly transfer the energy and action of my body into the canvas. I am leaving a lot to chance and trying not to overly control the paint. I simply think about the rhythm of the ocean while I paint....

Another detail....
A detail of the large painting
                       Matt likes art. 
A large 14' by 3.5' horizontal canvas...I painted this on the floor and moved it to the wall afterwards. It isn't finished yet, and now I'm going to go in with smaller brushes and charcoal instead of just throwing paint and paint washes. 
I painted this one yesterday, but I was rather frustrated with how it came out, so I scraped off all the paint and came up with this painting below...really cool effects....
    The aftermath of  frustrated
This is a smaller drip painting. I tried to let 
go and lose control on this one...all I thought 
about was the idea of waves. 
A detail
A detail of the next drip painting
This is the first smaller drip painting I tried
and it feels a bit too controlled for my liking...
again, here I was using house paint. I suspended
myself from several chairs and worked above the 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

A new technique

On friday I started working in a completely different way...I decided to try drip painting with my house paints on Plexiglas. What ended up happening was something I could never have predicted...the paint began to move and mix on its own on the surface of the plexi. The colors began to morph and swirl, marbling of their own accord. So, I let them do it, and only pushed things in particular directions when it seemed absolutely necessary.  I let them sit over the weekend and they continued to change. This process perfectly reflects on the qualities I am trying to capture; the paint, much like ocean water itself, was impossible to contain or control once it gained momentum. 

The first I went for a more literal
landscape. I love how the rocks and the wave here
are becoming one entity. I was trying to control 
the paint here a little too much, but this painting
opened the door. 
Detail of the wave on rocks. This reminds me of Katsushika Hokusai's Great Wave

Here is the painting I did today and a detail of the
marbling effect of the house paint. The end 
product will look nothing like this, I'm sure,
but here it is right after I finished with it.

This is my favorite of the three, here I really 
relinquished control and let the paint work...