Tag Archives: art

The Periphery Project

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For the handful of you that follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my #peripheryproject hashtag… and probably wondered what I’m up to. I’m so excited to tell you about this project! You all know that I paint. And those of you who know me personally know that I walk. A lot.

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As of this year, I’ve been painting for 25 years. I’ve been reflecting lately on the continuities in my practice over the years. I’ve been examining what has worked for me and what hasn’t. I’ve been making art long enough now so that I’m finally starting to really feel that I know what I’m about, and what my work is about and what keeps me coming back to it. Like many other people, I don’t process much of anything without moving. And let’s face it, art practice takes a lot of processing. So when I walk, it really feeds my practice. Walking, for me, is like art fertilizer.

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For the past several years, most of my walking has centered around where I live, and I’m lucky to live in a beautiful place, with lots of open space–fields and bluffs stretching to the ocean. And the work I’ve produced for about 5 years has centered on the light and atmosphere here, and those walks. I’ve written about this here quite a lot. Consistency and repetition are important. I like to visit my subject (location) repeatedly, from different angles and times of day, in varying light and weather. I want to get to know it, to discover it’s secrets, and feel that I have inhabited it, and it has inhabited me. This is where so much of my work has come from, for at least the last 20 years. This is one of my consistent threads, one of my continuities.

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Which leads me to The Periphery Project. In 2013, I ordered a set of Bay Trail maps, and thought to myself, “how cool would it be to walk around the entire San Francisco bay?”. This year I decided to finally start. So far, I’ve been walking each week, several miles each time, and I figure it will take me about two years to walk around the bay. The trail is not contiguous; there are stretches that are not accessible. But even so, it covers 270 miles of the bay shore. I think I need to buy myself new walking shoes!

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Each time I go out, I take photographs. The photographs serve as a record of what I notice, and even though I don’t directly use photos as the subject matter for my paintings, they do influence my compositions and color choices and at times certain shapes or geometries from my photos will make their way into paintings. They are complimentary; the relationship is reciprocal. I am already starting new paintings in the studio that are inspired by what I’m seeing along the trail. Stay tuned here for more about this project, and you can always follow along on my Instagram, for trail pictures, as well as works in progress and whatever else I’m noticing and photographing in my world.

*All photos taken on the western shore of the Bay Trail between the San Mateo Bridge and Oyster Point with my iphone.

More On Uncertainty

sketchesI came across a great quote by Henry Miller that alludes to uncertainty, though Miller uses different terms.  I knew I had to share it here.  The life preserver analogy is especially powerful to me; again, no risk, no art.

“I had to learn to think, feel, and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.  I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink.  The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.  Nobody can drown in the ocean of reality who voluntarily gives himself up to the experience.  Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring, through obeying the blind urge.”
–Henry Miller

*Quote via Brain Pickings.

 

Uncertainty

paperstrips_kairosSpecifically, embracing uncertainty.  Something I’m working on, because I’m generally not a big fan of uncertainty.  Uncertainty is… uncomfortable.

colors_kairosI do believe, however, that uncertainty is a vital part of making art.  Starting something new, how are we to know what will come of it?  “Is it going to work?  Where will it lead?  Will it be total shit?  Why am I even doing this?…”  That is the sort of thinking that tends to take over when I start new things.  It’s a vulnerable feeling.  But here’s the thing:  without risk and exploration, things dry up.  Art requires movement.  It requires progression.  It requires risk.  It requires action.

beginnings_kairosMost of the time, the experiments don’t work out.  Every now and then, they do.  Sometimes, they trigger a cascade of work that can last years.  But it all starts with willingness to embrace uncertainty.  So, that’s something I’m working on right now: setting some time aside to just play with different materials, play with different ways of thinking, play with failure, even.  Cultivating uncertainty.

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Above: Some of my current experiments (playing) on mylar.

Studio Shots

It’s been such a gray and rainy spring! But that hasn’t stopped the work in the studio… in fact, it’s been a wonderful year for the plants this year. Above, some mustard gone to seed.

The hummingbirds have been busy disguising their nests with this moss that grows on the old plum trees behind my studio.

This lovely thing fell to the ground during the last wind storm. I’m looking forward to drawing it.

This pile of embroidery thread is waiting to be woven into some paintings… paintings that are only in my head at the moment. I’m looking forward to the hours of summer, and seeing if some of my new ideas work.

In The Studio

I thought I’d share some current works in progress from my studio. This piece above will be put together in the end as one piece. I’ve been inspired by other artists who work large on multiple panels. Here, I had these small 10×10 inch panels lying around, and I thought I’d use them as a little test run… and that’s my medium setting up in the muffin tins. Working large uses so. much. medium!

This is a pretty crappy photo- taken late in the day with my lights on. But you get the idea. I’m really loving the metallic paints from R&F. So lovely when they are scraped down- this design is done in the german silver color, and it has a lot of variation, like a patina.

On to the next layers!

Hunting the Unseen

A few days ago we had a low, low tide- the kind of low tide that only comes once in a blue moon (literally, this time…), and so we all bundled up and headed for Maverick’s beach by the harbor. The sky was dark, the clouds low and threatening. It was windy. But I was so glad we went out.

There is so much beauty in these gray and blustery days, and this particular day, we had the pleasure of seeing what is usually hidden by the sea. We walked on rocks usually submerged. We could see the kelp anchored to the rocks, starfish clinging, and crabs backed into the deep cracks, staring out at us, as if we had crashed their party, and they were utterly annoyed. The beach becomes unfamiliar, foreign, and all the more beautiful for it.

It occurred to me that this is often the work of the artist- hunting the unseen; making it seen. Finding unnoticed beauty, and bringing it to the light. And sometimes a low tide is just what we need…

Here’s to 2010, a new year, and a new decade. May it bring you all light, love, and prosperity!