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.
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!
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."
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.
story short: the solvent did not transfer the image very well. Hmmm
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.
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!"