Monday, May 31, 2010

Visual Conversation

I named this blog "Visual Conversation."  I've never written about the process.

It started about eight or nine years ago ... time flies ... with my friend Marni Lawson.  She  is an artist and was then residing in Temple, Maine.  We'd come to know each other gradually over several years.  One day, I asked her to engage in a creative experiment.  The process was ... I I took an original piece of Marni's work and created a response.  I returned her work along with my response and Marni responded to my work.  We never talked about the pieces.  There were no rules on size or medium.  There were no wrong answers.  The shared energy was tremendous.  All possibilities were in front of us.  We had two "conversations" going at the same time, so each of us always had a piece to respond to.  The original "Conversations" generated forty pieces each and took over a year to complete.

We wanted to share the process, and conversed with other artists.  Other artists began their own conversations.  The image above was a part of a short conversation I had with the late artist Susan Pomeroy.  I now call it "Memories of the Future."  It hangs in my dining room. 

We shared the process with all age levels of students to see if it worked the same for others.  It did!  Elementary school children created responses on their computers with a paint program.  They also learned how to use the computer program.  Middle school students were quickly grabbing art supplies to begin a response.  It held the undivided attention of pre-schoolers with crayons and paper.  I borrowed the art class at the local "alternative" high school.  I brought fifteen of my matted and packaged original paintings in a pillowcase.  The students all choose one blind, and got right to work.  That was amazing.  Paint conversations was all the "bad" boys wanted to do in school.  It kept them there.  I returned to the class several times to paint with them.  I cannot describe the energy.  

Marni and I decided to call the process ... BEYOND WORDS, A VISUAL CONVERSATION.

The term "visual conversation" has been part of my artist's statement for so long, it seemed appropriate.  A book we shared about the formation of ice crystals exposed to positive and negative energy ... I do not remember the title or author of the book, was published by Beyond Words Publishing Company. 

To see some of Marni's work, visit

From Marni's Website:

"It (Visual Conversation) is not about our artwork but about the energy that is created through sharing, non-verbally, with another human being.  We envision responses in movement and dance as well.  Others are responding with words to our images.  we believe that this process opens RECEPTIVE  channels that open your mind to new ways of thinking and processing information.   Ask another, and try it  yourself."


Success or Failure

Here is that "start" I posted a day or two ago.  I kept some of the elements but lost some too.  I'm not sure which version I like the best.  This piece ... I think it works no matter which way it ends up being hung.  Left is the same position as the start ... on the right another view.  I do like using a square canvas ... when a piece turns out like this one ... it can also be hung on the diagonal.  I see different images in each view.  Directly above is yet another possibility.  I'm not used to this blogging tool, and the pictures keep slipping around.  I can't seem to keep them in any order, so will skip the last view. 

I was tempted to bring each section of the painting to a representational state.  My goal is to engage the viewer and let them define or not define the images.  The little digitals do not show the subtle details.  The changing light of the studio change the image.  I succeeded.  I failed to keep the essence of the start.  I painted the start with my fingers and a rag.  It was a very satisfying experience.  I enjoyed creating the final image, and as process is more important than product ... the one element lacking was excitement seeing images take shape ... there is something foreign to me in this latest effort.  I believe all of my work is a self portrait, and like touch drawings, I'll know what it is in due time.

I've had my seat outside in sun, watched and heard the Canadian geese land on the river, the goose families multiply each year, heard the song of the loon, and all the other birdsong.  With that inspiration, I'll spend some time in the studio.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Start

The weather was perfect today.  Bright and clear, mild breeze and not too warm or humid.  Perfect day to be painting outside.  I choose to remain in the studio, as I rarely paint what I see, and I was too lazy to pack the paints up, and walk or drive to another location.

This is a "start" and I don't know where it's going to go.  It should be an interesting journey.  This is after the first round of applying paint.  18 x 24 wrapped canvas.  The afternoon slipped by quickly.  I need long stretches of time to immerse myself in my work.  An hour here and there doesn't work for me.  I have the next several days ... don't have to be back to my day job (we all have to eat) until Thursday and the house is clean enough. 

Now that I've committed myself to my own process, I don't have studio avoidance syndrome.  I can't wait to get there!   Should be a great summer for artwork. 


I have decided this piece is done for the moment.  I was not happy with it as I painted, but I kept at it.  I have another started, but it's still too wet to work.

It's 18 x 18 on gallery wrapped canvas.  I've never destroyed work, but this is on a recycled canvas.  I had three pieces I was not interested in pursuing any further.  They were on wrapped canvas ... I paid good money for the support and was not going to waste it.  I had some gold gesso from Daniel Smith so I made them into blanks. 

I've used all three now and the only supplies I had left were three 18 x 24 canvases, and a full roll of primed canvas.  That's been sitting in the corner of the studio for several years now.  I don't like to stretch canvas.  I was saving those three because I thought I was going to do some "Old Masters Style" paintings.  I don't enjoy that process ... so why was I considering it?  It wasn't even a personal challenge.  Why did I keep saving the canvases for when I was in the mood and had the time?

I do enjoy the process above, and of a prior post and that is why I work.  I committed myself to doing what I enjoy.  Just ordered a dozed 18 x 18 canvases and a few 30 x 30.  I'm traveling my own path into the unknown.  As I was applying the gesso to the 18 x 24s, I was thinking of that roll in the corner.  When I work large I don't stretch the canvas, just tack it to the wall.  That way, I'm free to create as large or small a piece as I wish.  Sometimes it is confining to have the size predetermined.  I'm thinking of tacking a large piece up, and seeing what happens.  Might take me all summer, but there's no rush.

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Double Talk" is a Touch Drawing.  The history of the process of Touch Drawing can be read at  I was introduced to the process by Helen Warren.  I've integrated the process into all of my work.  "Double Talk" is oil on tissue paper mounted on cotton canvas.  Yes ... tissue paper.  I don't remember the exact size, it is approximately 12 x 18.  It was accepted into several juried shows.  It was also part of my portable exhibit.  It was hung living room for years, I wanted a change, so decided I could part with it.  It didn't sell, and after a show in South Portland, I decided to put it back in the living room.  A young man had been interested at that show, but didn't commit to purchasing it.  I got a call the next morning, and he had decided he had to have it.  He arrived with cash and drove for 3 hours to get what he could have had the day before. 

Helen Warren also has information about Touch Drawing on her website
Helen is a wonderful facilitator for individual creative process, and I studied with her for years.  She didn't like to be called a teacher.  I agree, it's one thing to teach technical rules etc., but you cannot teach creativity.  Everyone is creative.  It takes a special person to bring that out in people.

My current painting is too wet to continue today.  It's at the stage where I don't know what it will be, just know I have to keep going with it.  I spend as much time sitting with my pieces in progress as painting them.  I'm using a square format at the moment, and look at all angles, including the diagonal.  I derive great pleasure simply moving paint, and watching colors interact. 

For a couple of years I was forcing realism and representation on canvas.  I'm now relaxing and enjoying working.  That is a good thing because I have a solo show scheduled for October, and I don't have a large enough body of work in my inventory.  I have to solve that, and there's only one way.  Paint. 

I've been inspired while following several blogs, and reading.  So much to see, time flies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Painting Progress

Completed - Phase 1 and 2 below
I don't have a title yet, but I think this piece is about finished.  Oh ... varnish, paint the sides of the canvas ... all of that will get done.  Out of the realism phase almost.  I'm not that great with a digital camera, but did take pictures of the progress of this piece.  I started it last Sunday, sat with it Wednesday, painted some on Friday, Saturday, and except for a few details, complete.  I can now move on to another.  I found while getting the pictures from my camera, looking at the digital images would be another way to envision the final piece.  This time, I simply kept going with the paint.

Phase 1

Phase 2

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Beginning again

I did figure out why my computer was translating my words to Hindi ... I did find the settings for following that would show the followed blog who I was ... now to the business of figuring the rest out ...

Susan Roux, friend and inspiration, convinced me this activity would be fun, uplifting and fill my need to connect socially with artists.  People that understand the challenges of being an artist, be it creative process (my favorite subject), technique, marketing, storage of inventory, working with galleries, hanging solo shows, what is the best paint, etc ... and the list goes on.

Years ago I began painting to make decorations for the walls of my home ... not having money at the time to purchase.  It didn't take long for the joy of painting to become addictive.

The world disappears, time doesn't exist and all my aches and pains are not felt.  As I am a different person each day, new mood, activity, etc., my work is related but not all the same style.  I'm always pushing the envelope to create an image that exists only on my support.  I do stick with oil paint, but apply it to canvas, fabric, wood, plexi, paper and even tissue paper. 

This is a recent image that evolved from the paint.  First, I put the wrong color blue on my pallette, and decided to go with it.  I don't know who she is, have never met her, but she's hanging in my studio and talks to me. 

Most of my work is not as developed as this piece.  I took a course in the Old Masters Style of painting a couple of years ago, and ended up in a rut.  I appreciate realistic paintings, but don't enjoy doing them.  I proved I can do it, and that was enough.  Many of the techniques I like and use. 

Susan was questioning "Is Art Dying" the other day.  It was also a question about what is art. 

Art is in the eye of the beholder.  It takes two people to create a work of art ... one to make it, and one to see it.

For the rest of today, I'm returning to making. 

अ Beginning

Where to begin? My wish is to connect with artists with common or uncommon ideas. I started this process a few days ago. I believe I have the "kinks" worked out of the profile, URL, etc.