Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Artistic Notions: Edited for Commentary

I posted this yesterday and was too lazy to say a thing about it. Mark had mentioned that he'd like to see more of my work online. So I dug some stuff out and photographed it. Just odds and ends--enough to indicate my interests. I've made and lost or have given away so much art over the years that its crazy. Lol. I'm so guilty of telling people who visit my home, "Oh you like that piece? Well, take it. You can have it."

I will never earn a living with my work if I keep doing that. Lol.

When I dream of desert sands
Watercolor on paper 11" x 14"
(the color is far brighter in person)

Graphite sketch on paper 12" x 18"

And I think I could earn a living at it if I grew enough balls to actually pursue the marketing/gallery aspect of it. I won an award for my Van Morrison painting. There was a gallery in Ohio who wanted it, but I was nervous and worried that I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure.

Did you know some galleries expect you to hob knob with the crowd and basically sell yourself to up art sales? I didn't. I'm the "paint in the darkest corner of the room" type. Or at least I tried to be in school. Inevitably I'd end up with a bunch of classmates standing behind me saying things, "Wow, you really love color. Wow, what made you think of that?" Not that I'm a great artist. I have weaknesses, many areas to be fleshed out.

Van Morrison
Winner of the "Mr. E" award Ohio University
Oils on canvas 30" x 40"

Fairy Princesses
Oil on canvas 18" x 18"

But I have a good eye and I think the most crucial part of art is seeing. I mean...take a pass with the brush, step back, stare, mix some colors. Take another pass, stare. Question. I may spend 3 hours painting and 12 hours looking, contemplating, questioning what I've done. Am I satisfied? Is it successful? Where is it weak? That part is beautiful, that part is not.

It's a labor of obsession.

It's work. Physical, mental, emotional work--I'm a slave to it.

"Pop" Art
Charcoal on paper 18" x 24"

Birthday Party
Photograph collage 11" x 14"

But I also love it.

So how do I know when I've done something good? The same way I know with my writing. It's like my body is primed, zinging with electricity. I paint furiously, smearing thick globs across gessoed canvass. I don't eat. I don't sleep. I forget to pee for crying out loud! I become possessed. I work until my eyes are raw with exhaustion and my hands tremble in awe. I step back and think...did I really do that? I have no memory of it. Just the vague image of a mad woman pouring heart and soul and fire into a massive piece.

It's personal.

Perhaps more personal than writing is.

You see, there's a rightness in holding a pencil or paint brush in my hands. There's a feeling of being--I mean--truly being. I feel alive. I feel free. The tool becomes an extension of my arm, as if I were meant to be born with a pencil in my hand--only God forgot.

At this minute I would rather be scratching these words out on a sketch pad. I hate typing. I hate the artificial feel of a keyboard beneath my fingertips. It's cold and calculating. It frustrates me. Perhaps a laptop would be better because at least then I'd be mobile. I could take it to the desert. I could find a nice big rock and park my ass next to a lizard and tap-tap-tap away.

But it wouldn't be the same.

Ever open an old, much loved book, and feel the feather soft edges flip under the pads of your thumbs? Remember the scent of the book? So distinctive, so intimate--you could feel the history. The book has been read by hundreds of people. They touched it, inhaled its knowledge, its essence. They left their mark in dog-eared pages. They left scribbles in blue ink on page 43. They made notes in the margin. Jenny wrote on the copyright page, "This is the best novel I've ever read. Enjoy!" She wrote with hot pink, flowery handwriting in 1983--back when people still used cursive.

You'd pick that book up from the Library never consciously aware of the human history surrounding it, connecting you to it. All you'd think is that you'd been waiting two weeks for Jenny to bring that damn thing back so you could check it out.

That's what drawing is to me. It's addictive--healing. It's about that magical moment of creation where the world is clear and pure and that empty white space before me lays virginal--waiting--waiting so patiently for the first touch, the first stroke. It waits, aching, begging for the whisper of air, the soft tickle of graphite, charcoal, paint, water, eraser, brush. It waits, knowing that soon I will love it most of all. Soon I will give it form, purpose, beauty. I will tell it who it is and in doing so--I will find my identity.

It's a moment of pure perfection.

Until I screw it up!



  1. Your desert sands watercolor has a nice feel to it. I can imagine being there. I like the immediacy of your charcoal drawings, the energy of your photo collage, and of course the color of Morrison.

    I'm familiar with those feelings you've described. It's one of the reasons I've been writing the past couple of years instead of painting. Painting demands no less than everything. I would say the only kind of work more exhausting is tree trimming (if you've ever done it you know what I mean) but tree trimming is only physically exhausting. Painting wears you out in every way. But one of the best things about painting, for me, is it takes me away from words. I've been so full of words lately I think that's all I'm made of anymore.

  2. Oh Kat, you were doing so well until that last line! You have talents that some people can't even wrap their tiny little brains around. I know you're just trying to protect yourself, but stop acting like what you do doesn't matter or isn't important. IT DOES AND IT IS BECAUSE ITS IMPORTANT TO YOU.

    (Back to my hole to shake my head and grumble to myself).

  3. VL Sheridan, you sound like a sensible person to me....

  4. Lol. Okay you guys. Thank you. :)

    Mark: There's nothing wrong with being full of least that means you aren't empty. Just don't forget about your art. :)

    VL: Okay...I hear you. It's just...I hate talking about my art or writing because I feel like an arrogant, pompous, creep. And I'm not like that at all. I dunno...Lol. I'll work on it. :D

  5. But you wouldn't feel like an arrogant, pompous, creep if you were talking about your boys, now would you? The fruits of your creativity are just as precious.

  6. Hmmm...true...I'd feel like a gushing, "Oh my kids are awesome!" mom then. :D