Monday, July 1, 2013

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep./ But I have promises to keep,/ And miles to go before I sleep..."

This morning I looked at a series of photos I've taken of a painting in process. The first image is really a drawing in oil paint - I like it, but I wanted something more like a painting, with complexity and layers. I am working with a new material, the oil paint-resistant paper produced by Arches, "Huile." It suits me to work on paper, even with oils; I like being able to change the size and format as I go along, which is an obstacle presented with a stretched canvas, or canvas on wood panel. I feel more free on a less precious, time-invested material, one which will be easily stored or put to other use if it doesn't become what I want.

The image and the gesture of this work are completely different from most of what I've been doing in my work for the last few years. I have to trust this urge though; this is how I work. This tangent pursuit has been in my consciousness for months, ever since Hurricane Sandy struck. There are still a lot of downed trees in view where I live, and over the months of observation, an accumulation of losses, a panoply of sorts, so that I saw shadows in every upturned root wad. The photos I took of many downed trees and upturned roots have been the genesis of my sidetrack - see some of how I've processed these images HERE and HERE.

I might have just completed one of these paintings - it isn't quite what I thought I meant it to be, but something is telling me to let it be what it is, and start over with a new one, even as I continue on my other visual path. This might be a growing project. It will be interesting to see where my paths decide to cross. I am not the kind of artist who names a series and then produces it -- something demands my attention, and if it isn't satisfied, it demands more. Maybe a series develops, or maybe acting it out leaves marks on the path I'm traveling already.

I might add a photo or a series of photos to this post, but not yet. I'm not ready to share this work. In the studio, I've had to beat off the internalized voices of critics who already think I am insufficiently "consistent" in my work. Here is what an esteemed friend wrote to me, when I asked his opinion of this criticism:

"Consistency is over-rated.

I say vision, obsession, desperation, need, love, and 100 other CONTENTS come before consistency.
Unless you are an artist like Ad Reinhardt or Peter Halley or Robert Ryman ...
Men fear change. We actually delude ourselves into believing that there is such a thing as consistency.
Really there is only change.
Men are great. But very very limited. And scared.
So we create orders.
And silly ideas.
'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...' Emerson
'Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.' Saint Oscar Wilde
'Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.' Aldous Huxley

In other words Ravenna, if you are consistent: You are already ... ... ... dead.
Trust me.
Release your inner-visions ...
Others will later let you know if you have gone mad ...
Or they won't and just love what you shamanic side brings..."

Thank you, Friend!

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

see the full poem by Robert Frost, HERE.


  1. It's wonderful that you are allowing yourself to follow your feelings in your work. I looked at the post of downed trees, which I'd seen when you first published it, so was surprised to now see so many painted images included; now I understand one of the images you posted on Facebook, its source, which adds a lot to it.
    You are lucky to have a good friend with the support of inconsistency.

    1. His is an authoritative voice, which is good for talking back to those internalized critics! You are a good friend too, Altoon, thank you for reading and commenting. The earlier blog post I linked to was actually my second about the trees; the first one only had photos of the root wads. And yes, regarding that new painting - which is currently holding the wall on my tumblr blog (linked at the top of the right column here).


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