Evening Sun Gallery

Notes from the Studio

The completion process of Atlantis IX was very interesting. After adding some phthalo turquoise, it was clear something else was needed. I stood in front of the painting for several minutes three different times, and nothing came to mind.

When I went into the studio yet again, after about an hour, the jar of anthraquinone red caught my eye. It is a very special color — the only place selling it as a pigment dispersion is Guerra. Immediately, an aha! I placed some on my glass palette, picked up the big knife and smeared some paint on it.

At once the dance began! When the paint was used up, it was obvious the piece was complete. Yet another lesson in allowing instead of pushing or being willful, with a most excellent result.

After the 66x54, going back to 40x30 was a big challenge. The canvas seemed puny, at best, and I felt very restricted.

But I have kept at it, and am now enjoying the process. However, I just ordered 12 more large canvases, 6/66x54 and 6/72x65. Should keep me busy for awhile!

Now I need to purchase LOTS more gels and paints!

I am currently working on a 66x54 in. painting, much larger than my usual 40x30. It has been more than three years since doing this, and it was rather intimidating at first. The blank canvas sat on my easel for the better part of three months before mustering up the courage to engage with it.

But I am immensely enjoying the larger field. I can use whole body strokes, almost like dancing with the palette knife. Fortunately I remembered to mix up rather huge quantities of paint. Materials get used up very quickly working in this size! Also the scale is very different, and takes some adjustment.

Equally impressive for me was viewing my last four paintings individually. Each easily stood on its own, with no titles or interpretations needed, other than the experience of taking them in. Definitely the context plays a very large part.

I realized late last night that the last four paintings (Atlantis Series I-IV) are mirroring a profound inner process. Today I arrayed them in the front of the living room, and spent about an hour contemplating each one, and the group.

With Dreaming of Atlantis I entered the watery world, tides and currents carrying me deeper into the unknown. Emotions and feelings, dreams and memories, the personal and collective past. Rising Storm and its turbulence compelled me to confront present issues.

Dissolution reflects the need to let go, things falling apart, embracing the chaos and turmoil. Allowing old patterns of response to dissolve away.

From the Depths is bringing up images from my unconscious, not yet fully formed. New experiences and opportunities emerge and unfold in their own manner and time. Needing to trust the process, showing up and being present.

Much must have transpired on the inner, because I then went into the bedroom and fell asleep!

For me, painting is a journey and adventure, not a destination. I am interested in process, not product. To that end, I am willing to experiment freely, and let go entirely of preconceived notions.

The paintings create themselves, in a large sense. I am merely the channel through which the creative forces are expressed. And so I am always surprised, and often amazed, by the outcome.

I had quite an astounding series of experiences the other day, starting around 2am, when I experienced a huge pool of blocked energy in the right side of my lower back that was dark — not negative or destructive or evil, just dark — and that I needed to extend out my right arm fully to release it.

Later on, around 9, I went into the studio and worked for a while on two small (40x30) black-and-white pieces, and then turned my attention to a much larger canvas (66x54) that I had already prepared with a heavily-textured background of various shades of off-whites.

I mixed up a huge amount of black paint, and, using a very large palette knife, went to work. Because of the canvas size, I of course got to extend my arms and body full-length.

The result was amazing. All that trapped energy was released, and I was jumping up and down, laughing and shouting in total joy, awe and wonder. Wow!!!!

Every single time I look at them I am overcome with a myriad of feelings, including joy, delight, tears, awe and wonder. I think the process is indelibly etched into the canvases.

I treated all three the same — creating heavily-textured backgrounds, then mixing up a substantial portion of paint, and having but one go at each canvas. Sort of like the ink-on-rice-paper process of the zen masters. One shot — all or nothing. No changes, additions, amendments.

So they are very powerful and meaningful, to me.

Almost all my paintings are created with large palette knives. This approach is enormously satisfying, as large amounts of paint can be placed on the canvas in one go, and textures are easily built.

A few use some brushwork (e.g. Buy Me a Beach), and some (e.g. Diana's Cauldron) are made with brushes only. Several others, as in the Blues for the Night Queen series, use brushed backgrounds.

Most of the pieces use impasto (textures of varying thickness) rather than flat applications of paint. I sometimes employ wet-in-wet methods; mostly, though, the layers are allowed to dry before overpainting. And mixing small amounts of paint with soft gel gloss allows for relatively thin layers of very translucent color.

Because the paintings are entirely non-representational, the titles are meant to offer the viewer an avenue for exploration. In the end, however, it the experience that counts. Feelings, thoughts, and sensations convey meaning, and this will be different for each person.

The paintings are acrylic on canvas. In terms of factory-made products, I use Golden heavy body and fluid acrylics and Lascaux Artist paints, mixed most often with soft, regular or high-solid gel. They have a glossy finish, which serves to increase the depth and luminosity.

I also make my own paint, using pigment dispersions, binders and thickeners from Guerra Paint and Pigment in NYC. This extends the range of available colors and allows me to create varying paint textures, and is great fun!

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