Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



August 2010

"These night inspirations are not to be trusted. My mind is too on."




Dear Reader,

It is an uncommon practice for me to plan a painting before beginning. If I think about my work outside of the studio, it is usually a matter of problem-solving. An area might nag at me, a signal that some revision is in order. I go to sleep thinking about solutions and try them out the next day. Or I may hang the painting at the foot of my bed, so that I get a fresh look the next morning.

One evening last week, I had just finished a Zentangle [Judy's Journal, 2010 July] and put it in a storage booklet. As I glanced at the others, it occurred to me that these small artworks would never be shared with anyone. One thought led to another. I considered the 400-plus finished pieces I have made since January 1998, when I returned to painting after decades of not practicing art. Even though I might not like to admit it, I did have my favorites. A mental slide show began in my head. I have photographs of every piece. Some have been sold, but I still own many and rotate them on the walls of my home.

What route did the idea take as it tumbled in my brain? I wanted to see if I could make new artwork using images of my favorite paintings AND copies of my Zentangles. How (by now, it was 2 a.m.)? The churning of ideas - accepting and rejecting methods and techniques - was worse than caffeine. I heard the pre-dawn chirping of birds before I finally gave in and slept.

The next day, I was obsessed! I wanted to experiment with making transfers of 5" by 7" or 8" by 10" photographs of my work onto a support (board or canvas). So, I chose one of my favorite paintings (Vertical One, 36" by 24," acrylic from Gallery Chapter Five, row one, number one). I love this piece! It thrills me beyond words when I see it. Which I can do now if I walk into the living room!

I wrote in my art journal:
"These night inspirations are not to be trusted. My mind is too on! Ideas race all around. But I must chase this one down! Here is what I need: board or canvas, image of my painting, printer on BEST quality, bunches of Zentangles, solvent for transferring image, gel medium, sponge for removing paper once it's dry, courage and imagination."

Prepping the board meant another decision: background color, since only the ink remains and blank areas would show through. Should I pick up a predominant color in the painting, in this case alizarin crimson with titanium white? Or should I print in grayscale and go with the palest of cool gray background? Whatever I did, I knew that I could go back into the piece with paint or ink after transferring the images. The possibilities were endless. Stop thinking! Stop writing! Get going.

Long story short: the solvent did not transfer the image very well. Hmmm…I went on line and did a tutorial on making transfers. Then I was off to a Large Office Supply Store---trip #1, buy transparency film. Salesperson: "Try one. If it doesn't work, bring it back." Didn't work. Trip #2---return the box, upgrade to a pricier transparency film. Didn't work. Trip #3---return the box and get my money back.

At that point, I was frustrated beyond description. My problem was simple: I had expectations. I had not been able to turn what I saw in my head into something sitting on my drawing table. I could try to paint this idea without using the transfer process. But I don't want to do that.

So now I am in limbo, with that tantalizing board, all prepped, calling out like a siren. It looks sideways at me from my drawing table, saying, "Come on. Give up on the transfer idea. Just come and slather me in paints. Let me figure out what I have to look like. Trust me. You will have fun!"