Thursday, September 20, 2012

My long-awaited Burridge workshop

Belfast, 12x12" acrylic on canvas
After years of waiting, I'm finally getting the chance to take a workshop from one of my all time favorite artists, Robert Burridge. It was largely due to Bob Burridge that I fell in love with abstract painting and the freedom of exploration that comes from painting with "no holds barred." Although my own style differs from his, my work and attitude have been greatly influenced by him. Belfast, shown here, is a painting I did a few years back, approaching its creation from the experimental viewpoint Bob advocates.

My reason for taking this workshop: I want to return to my "artistic roots" -- laying paint directly on the canvas. These last several years I've focused increasingly on mixed media collage. One day, it occurred to me that I might have forgotten how to "just paint." Slowly, over time, I had gravitated more and more toward using papers in place of paint. Hmmmmm. Might it be time for a tuneup in the creativity department?? When I learned of an upcoming Burridge workshop I signed up. Exactly what the doctor ordered for jump-starting my directional shift, and taught by the guy who got me hooked in the first place. Perfect!

Not that I don't love collage. I'm crazy about it. But increasingly I've found myself yearning for that incomparable sensation of splashing, smearing, stabbing or smooshing paint directly onto a canvas in spontaneous, even reckless, fashion. My collaged pieces, on the other hand, require a lot more forethought and planning. The whole process takes much longer. That is, if it's to be done right, i.e. with archival integrity in mind. There's the drying time between layers, the paper prep, the additional steps required to prepare the support, etc. etc. While the end result may appear wildly spontaneous, the process itself is pretty time consuming and labor-intensive. Collage is more of a carefully composed fugue than a jam session. Right now, I'm aching for some improv.

So my goal for Fall is recharging my painting batteries. Can't wait to see what happens next. Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Making a Memory Collage

What a jam packed summer it has been! Where did the last three months go? We made a trip to Florida in June, returning home to a myriad of art projects that kept me hopping all summer and left little time for blogging.

One of these projects was designing a "memory collage" -- a special birthday gift for a client's aunt. Style-wise it was a departure from my usual abstract pieces but I found switching creative gears to a more traditional approach refreshing. The best part was the hunt for just the right elements to use that would relate to the lady for whom the collage was being made. In almost every painting and mixed media piece I create, there's symbolism and hidden meanings and this collage would be no different.

The recipient is known for her extraordinary love of cooking (how I admire anyone who loves to cook!) and for the love, warmth and generosity she bestows on her family. To reflect those qualities, I found a vintage drawing of a mixing bowl (symbolizing love to me), a serving spoon (sharing), and vegetables (nourishment) in a cookbook that once belonged to my husband's grandmother. For part of the background I introduced recipes from the same cookbook, including one for corn chowder, to symbolize the kind of "comfort food" served up in America's heartland, where the aunt was born and raised.

I also had two family photos to work with, one quite old and the other more recent, of multiple generations of her family. To preserve the originals, I made copies and used those instead. As I worked on the piece, I couldn't help but feel a connection to this beloved aunt and those who obviously love her very much. The act of creating the piece brought back memories of my own family and growing up in a similar environment, where family ties and shared meals form the heart of a farming community's culture.

When my client came by the studio to pick up the finished piece she was overcome with emotion. It had been a joy for me to create this memory collage for her, but what I didn't expect were long-forgotten cherished memories it revived for me as I worked on it. It's said that a piece of art can profoundly affect a viewer. As I discovered, creating a memory collage can profoundly affect the one who creates it, as well!