Standing at the Edge
Here I am again, at another juncture, anticipating a new direction in my painting. Last time, I wrote about the prospect of beginning a three-genre manuscript based on the theme of travel. There has been slow progress, because it has been one of those non-stop months with little time left for long, creative stretches at the computer or the easel. I am now on the road with the new manuscript. Donald M. Murray taught me that work is accomplished in places other than a studio or office. We live and breathe sources of inspiration. In fact, too much time in the usual work places may result in creative flat lining.
So, why do I feel as if I am standing at the edge with my painting?
When my Autobiography exhibition ended recently, I wondered if I had finally finished the series, which now consists of twenty-four paintings (Judy’s Journal 2011 September). Eight were delivered to Gallery Z in Providence, Rhode Island, for the Small Picture Show, a holiday bazaar of small, affordable artworks.
November 17th - December 23rd
Small Picture Show @ Gallery Z www.galleryzprov.com
Opening Reception/Art, Food & Wine: November 17th
Reception/Art, Food and Wine: December 15th
Am I ready now to step off the edge and start new work? To see where I have been, I can look in my art albums, chronological collections of photographs showing every piece I have made. Artwork is also stored in the basement, which gives me ample opportunity to review work, even when I do not intend to. Walking by boxes of Environments (examples are in Gallery Chapters 1, 3, 4, and 7), I have often wondered if I could continue that series beyond forty-two. Landscape Mosaics, twenty-one strong, inspired by Antoni Gaud í’s Parc G üell in Barcelona, were an exercise in pure joy (Judy’s Journal 2008 June, August). Could I recapture that feeling?
I don’t think so. When the romance of a series is ended, it’s ended. If I can see that I am repeating myself or (God forbid) it seems too easy, I know that it’s over. Finding out if there is still a flame is simple: start a new painting. In this case, the operative word is “paint.” As shocking as it is, the Autobiography series, which began in September 2010 after months of false starts, required minimal painting. Archival inks, pencil and transfers were the key materials.
How will I begin? Rituals are used by every artist and writer. These are the runways before each flight. When I write, the ritual appears as lists, freewrites, earlier drafts, and maps of information. I empty out everything known about a subject in order to prime the engine with new ideas.
In painting, however, it is completely different. I stand at the precipice. And I welcome it, not fear it. My preparation is minimal and driven by two things: materials and music. I will lay out my paints, brushes, mediums, choose a canvas or board, load the CD player and begin. There will be a not-too-pleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach that will soon disappear. The mystery of what happens next is why I paint. I never know where it will lead.