Here’s the deal. I have made myself a vertical palette. This was inspired by David Kassan and all due credit will be given there when I have the time to do a more thorough post about his ideas. (He has developed and is currently selling his version of a vertical palette. I couldn’t wait for his production team so I experimented and made a couple of my own. The current one in use is pictured here…after two weeks of a particularly detailed painting.)
Below is a detail of the tray with two medium receptacles. Since I use such small amounts of liquin, fine detail and impasto, and since they dry out very quickly, I have found that the disposable cap lid is great for the heavier blob, and the refined scallop shell works great for the thinner stuff. Most nights I remember to wipe out the shell and it is ready for the next morning’s dollop. But a lot of nights I forget and so it is a sticky mess the next day. After a few months of this the shell has built up a thick coating and today it was no longer able to function up.
I searched around and have a couple more shells, doesn’t the nice new clean one look spiffy here ?
But I know it will not last the winter, I could probably use one a month…so…I’m throwing down a request to my island pals.
When next you take a walk on the beach, or along the shoals, or out behind Larsen’s,would you please pick up a few shells for me. I used to find the best stash at that turnout on the right at the entrance to Sengy pond, just after Harthaven. The maximum width is 2 1/8″ to fit in my trough. I suppose a clam shell would work as well.
It’s such a blessing to have island friends when you live in a landlocked state. It takes a village,
What is the roll of creativity in an angry chaotic world. To echo to mirror to distract to remind to transport to speak truth to provide haven
My response, when the tension tipping point is reached, is to grab my cape, in a wild, Severus like fury, and circle it as armor and take my soul to refuge in the studio, there to tease apart the angers from the truths and sit with where they both intersect and where there might be something of meaning to be found.
I have a keen sense of the stairway that leads to that chamber of secrets in my artistic soul. It is a well traveled road and the passage way is woven deep into how I chose to live on the planet. As I walk that path now, the intensity of the emotions informs the process, and there are familiar touchstones left on the stair treads as I wind my way down and deep. I am not afraid to go there, only fearful I won’t go far enough.
In carrying along this dialogue I am having with myself, and a few other artists, about what it means to be a Mature Artist, I am pondering this part of the creative process, where we go to understand the profound tragedies in our world, in ourselves. How do we, as artists, make some sense of the pain and loss and fear and find the balancing beauty… both in that darkness, and in the light. And how, as artists who have been swirling their capes for half a century or more, do we recognize that pathway differently than we did when the brushes were new.
What you focus on expands, and for me, at least for now, the channels are wide open.
It is my day job, my all consuming career, to push paint around on a panel until it sings. When I started this full time, 16 years ago, I was well into middle age, but I had been dabbling since high school and there are some scraps of drawings left to remind me of the innocence of those early strokes.
This week I have been looking back at the portfolio on my website, which begins in 2000. It surprises me how autobiographical the paintings have been. No viewer will ever see it, but I can remember when, and why each of those compositions were chosen, and, upon review, how much has evolved in the ensuing light years…both technically and personally.
With each painting I have insisted on raising the bar. Sometimes that is noticeable, sometimes I slid back in a heap. It was always a conscious decision to work harder at the craft of painting, but what strikes me today is the unconscious way that the depths of the narrative seemed to drag my wayward soul into a different place.
Some wise woman along the way said that, as we grow older, it was easier to recognize what one doesn’t want, or need, and after jettisoning that…there is more room for the mystery. I made that last part up, about the mystery, but, as the years creep up on me, I am so much better at letting go of the noise. I’m finding much more to satisfy my curiosity in the silent spaces. I crave silence. That is what I need of the swirling cape of escape now.
The subject came up this morning, Herself and I talked about the cliche of artists needing angst and turmoil to plum creative depths.She had read of some artists who go to great length to fabricate a self destructive atmosphere of a narrative in order to tap into their genius.
Now, this topic may have, in some way been tweaked into her consciousness after she had hurried across the icy path from cabin to studio…in her slippers… to see why I had not answered her phone calls, only to find me furiously wielding the vacuum in the kitchen seeking out and attacking the tiny evidence of a most unwanted creature who has chosen to do battle with me…now…in the middle of our already most challenging winter. I was indeed awash in drama…albeit achingly justified.
searching around to create some artificial angst…Not me. Been there, got the T-shirt..s, and can tap into those dragons in a flash as needed.
But, as I was saying about the silence…that source is currently the cauldron of creative juices.
There now, I have gone on a ramble, again. Among the slurry of emotions this season, I’m working through my feelings about the loss of the Langmuir’s Camp Sunrise. I received a photo taken from Squibnocket Beach, just a couple weeks ago, and the top of that dear sweet roof line no longer peeks above the horizon of cliffs.
Of course, I knew it was coming. What I didn’t know is how the actuality of the void would choke my soul.
So, I’ve been reviewing my portfolio. Lining up all the paintings I have done of that camp. The count is well over fifty. Almost one for each of my “oh so mature” years.
My job now, the challenge I am setting before the easel, is to tell the last chapter of her story. Sitting in the silence. Listening, for where the story of the life of that old chicken coop, intersects with the lives of her caretakers, and artist squatters, and with the island itself.
Looking out of the studio window on this, the first day of the new year, I am eager to let the last five months of challenging emotional detours fade into the history books…carrying the lessons forward that sustained us in the deep waters, the rock solid humor that kept us sane, and the love that is at the core of our precious little family of three.
The work begins anew today and the muses are tingling with anticipation.
It’s time for the annual editing of the ideas. Pouring through the stacks of sketchbooks, the mountains of photo references, compiling all the notes and phrases and scribbled phrases that have been gathering in the corners of the studio…and my mind…for the last year, and putting them in some manner of order. Then teasing out the concepts and titles and compositions which scream the loudest to have their turn on the easel.
Acutely aware of time, and the energy that is required to push the boundaries further for each new painting, I can here Polly’s voice over my shoulder, telling me to “Shake yourself together”. She’s right. All the pressure I’m stressing out over, to chose the right images, to meet gallery expectations, to take on the harder subjects, to bring the work to a new level, and to clear away enough of the outside world to find that focus which is essential to make a space for the magic to happen… I do know better.
It just simply won’t happen unless I get out of my own way. Let all those “shoulds” go. Pull up what you can of the drawbridge. Bite the head off a tiny chocolate santa and dig in…
So today, I cast the net. A wide arc of review, in which the first wave of ideas, old and new, will be gathered into a new listing. There are no limits to the criteria… I’ve always wanted to work on that…I think I might be ready for this one now…I can’t wait to try my hand at that subject…oh yeah, I forgot about that light…on that boat…and look who wandered into that photo shoot…I still love that title…and this one makes me smile.
Time will do the weeding. For now, make the list. There are always one or two ideas that rise quickly to the top. Usually it’s something fun and light that practically paints itself. Just get the brushes flying and the muses will smooth out the rough patches.
What I need is a nice long walk on the beach…with my girls.