Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Decision and the End of Artist's Block"

"Pi", 8" x 10", Acrylic & gesso, chalk & pencil on primed mat board;  ©  2015
Prints available--message me for details.

“Artist’s Block” is rooted in fear.  Fear of mistakes.  Fear of messing up.  Fear of failure.  All of these will impede beginning.  Beginning is the end of Artist’s Block.

Indecision is the result of this fear.  Making “The Decision” is the key.  The idea is to create something to respond to.  The Decision is probably going to be wrong anyway but it will prompt a reaction.  

"Hyperbolic Paraboloid Sketch", 8" x 10", Gesso, chalk & pencil on primed mat board;  ©  2015
Prints Available--Message me for details.  Collection Steve Nyland

Responding is the key to unlocking creativity.  It doesn't even matter if the idea and execution are awful.  But get the ball rolling and believe that you have what it takes to figure it out.  It’s easier to work with something than to work with nothing.

It’s like editing.  You can’t edit what isn’t there.  Your artwork is in motion as long as you can determine a problem and consider a solution.  Problem solving is creative.  Trust your instincts.  Don’t quit until it works.

"Tree of Life, 6 Points", 8" x 10", Acrylic & Gesso, chalk & pencil on primed mat board; ©  2015
Backed, shrink wrapped and shipped anywhere in the lower 48 for $65.

I run into this hesitation in my studio these days with each new piece.  When I was in the midst of a focus project. I knew what the next step was at the end of the day and what to do when I got back into the studio.

"Black Transformation Hexagon", 72" x 72", Gesso white wash on roofing felt; ©  2015
Unframed, rolled and shipped anywhere in the lower 48 for $400

Free range artwork is a whole different process in the wake of the focus project.  Each piece requires fresh inspiration, new insight and solutions.  OUCH! 

I am currently reworking last year’s abstract drawings with mathematics.  Each piece relates to different equations, parabolas or geometry--eventually. 

"Sweetgrass Drawing", Gesso & chalk on primed mat board;  ©  2014
Prints available--message me for details.

I continually say, “Make a decision.  It doesn’t matter if it works right now.  It will work.”  Each painting has required response after response to those initial decisions.  Each painting resolves itself into a fine and unusual artwork—WINNING!


"Parabola Oops", Acrylic & gesso, chalk & pencil on primed mat board;  ©  2015
Backed, shrink wrapped and shipped anywhere in the lower 48 for $65.

If you are avoiding your studio I want to encourage you. Make a decision on that painting that has you stuck.  If it’s the empty canvas (or page) that has you stuck then just slam it.  Make something to paint out and see what that looks like.  Then paint it out again.  And then paint that out.  What colors have evolved?  What textures? 

"Sweetgrass Parabola", 8" x 10", Acrylic & gesso, chalk & pencil on primed mat board; ©  2015
Backed, shrink wrapped and shipped anywhere in the lower 48 for $65.

Work with what emerges.  Let it tell you what’s happening, what it is and where it’s going.  All you need to do is push it and follow it.  Do it.  Make it.  It’s only art, right?

Have faith--it’s more fun than fear.  You will not fail if you do not quit. Let me know how it works out for you.

"Hypar Quad w/Circles", 8" x 10", Acrylic & gesso, chalk & pencil on primed mat board; ©  2015  
Backed, shrink wrapped and shipped anywhere in the lower 48 for $65.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mathematics as Abstract Text

Grids, octagons, X-Y-Z axes, coordinates, parabolas…mathematics are increasing these days in the studio.  Equations, formulas, letters and numbers have become part of the expression.  They accompany geometric shapes and represent an aesthetic relief.


"Let f = F", Gesso on Roofing Felt, 72" x 36", © 2015

In 1982 the third year faculty at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, DC) became aware of my job experience as a sign maker.  Since then there has been a push to incorporate text into my artwork.  I became very self-conscious about it…what to say?  In those days I took the sign influence into the direction of graffiti.


Washington, DC, Dupont Circle 1984  Photo Richard K. Thomas


As part of a retrospective exhibit in the early 2000’s I painted individual words in a frieze section of the gallery. The selection of words was rife with meaning and hanging my large scale abstract paintings below them created interesting contexts.  

Installation View, "Excerpts", Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC  2007

But text was not integrated into the imagery.

My struggle was with words themselves.  They’re so descriptive that they guide viewers thinking, perception and meaning.  I've had no problem with this as far as titles go. But actually using them in the artwork has continued to make me feel self-conscious.  I’ve tried to use text as texture by burying them under layers of paint but without success.

Now it seems that the use of geometric shapes demands these equations to emphasize the depth of the subject. The math is specific without being literal.  It’s an abstract language.  


"Untitled Hypar", Gesso and graphite on primed matboard, © 2015 Collection Steve Nyland

As such, I enjoy incorporating it freely into these recent artworks.  Many formulas are too long to use but sections are fun to place into these compositions.  The complexity makes for rich content. 
Underpainting, Gesso on Roofing Felt, 2015  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FCVWpCgt1w



Using algebraic formulas touches on some difficult areas for me.  Algebra was incomprehensible when I was a high school freshman.  The basic concept of letters equaling “any number” was beyond me.  My dad taught math and science and worked with me to get a handle on it.  In spite of his tutoring it didn’t connect and was very frustrating!

I revisit these memories often as I continue this series of artwork.  It’s uncomfortable.   Algebra was my great academic melt down.  (Let’s not talk about Speech class.)