Thursday, September 27, 2012

Welcome to the Forum

24"h x 30"w marker and oil on canvas
I am part of an NF Forum on Facebook. People post their struggles and hardships dealing with a life of NF or being the parent of a child with NF. After awhile the posts start to blur, I forget whose child had what wrong with them, or which person is going to what doctor. Somebody is getting their leg amputated, someone's child has learning difficulties, someone has to pick between becoming deaf or dying, etc. It can be inundating, overwhelming and it never stops. It just keeps going on forever as people keep posting. The posts themselves look like a blur in my newsfeed. Sometimes I don't even look at the forum because I don't want to read about all the horrible manifestations about NF or whose tumor suddenly turned malignant. This week I discovered that one of the kids on my list of portraits to paint for my Many Faces of NF project is dying. I never painted his portrait because I have 15 people in front of him to paint. I felt terrible and now I feel like I should let some time pass for his mother to grieve because it would be in poor taste to start asking her questions about her son while he is on his deathbed. No, I can't imagine it nor do I pretend to know what that is like. It would be insulting for me to even pretend that I can comprehend that. I will now have to paint his portrait as a NF Memorial many many months from now. It's hard. It's just very hard.

Zoomed in so you can read the text
How does this relate to my artwork? I have been thinking about text a lot as it is incorporated with imagery. My advisor told me to look at the work of Sean Landers. I like his technique even though I am not all that interested in most of his images. I read many articles about them and I rather enjoy what he is doing and he seems extremely fascinating, but in the end, I still do not find his actual images to be ones that personally engage me. I should qualify a bit further that I think I enjoy his process more than I enjoy his final product. I think this is actually fairly common for me in art. Oftentimes it is the process or technique that is appealing even if the end result isn't what grabbed my attention.

So, in the spirit of borrowing, I decided to log into the forum and start meticulously copying all of the posts in the NF Forum (leaving out the authors). The forum on FB is completely open and public which means anyone can read these posts. Once someone posts in it, they know that anyone, including people not in this group, can read what they have written. This key element also gave me the sense that if people were comfortable posting these items, then they expect the world to read them. If it would have been a private group, I would have not used the posts.

So, up close you can read each text, but as you stand away from it, it all just looks like a blur of lines. This is really no different than the postings. They blur, I forget and sometimes I don't want to read them anyways.
Another zoomed in shot of the text.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Combination of Two Ideas

22" x 28" oil on board

22" x 28" oil on board. +  Orange Head Study

Over a decade ago, I painted a still life with objects given to me while being apart of an art club. It was a fun idea and it got all of us painting the same items, but with our own interpretations. At the end, we had a group show and everyone could see the other artist's creations and arrangements of the still life objects. The show was called "Still Life in Motion". I did the following painting for it.

22" x  28" oil on board. Completed 2000
I enjoyed being apart of the show as it really got me excited about painting and gave me some creative parameters to work within. I also met some other artists. As an art teacher, I love these sorts of show ideas and projects because it gets me thinking and creating. The results are typically not quite as important to me as the process.

Many years later a friend asked me if she could hang it in her church's library. I gave it to her and quickly forgot about it for over a decade.

About 6 months ago, my brother said "Oh, I have a painting for you." I was genuinely interested because I had no idea what he could be referring to. Here comes this painting back into my life again. Apparently there were church renovations going on and the painting no longer had a home. My friend told my brother that she was worried that it might get damaged and wanted to make sure I got it back safely. That is very kind. But when I looked at it now, I thought "YIKES...this is really bad!"

I was just hoping people wouldn't mind the candelabra being uncomfortably cut right down the candle or perhaps that ellipses didn't really have to be painted convincingly. I was also unimpressed with my drapery which was a silky cloth that I just painted so opaquely that it looks more like a heavy bedspread. The candles were not lit because my husband wasn't so sure that I might not burn down the house since I tend to get distracted fairly easily.

I realized that it was time for this painting to go, but why would I want to burden a Goodwill with it? So, I took out my painting exercise from awhile ago: The man with the orange background.

16" x 20" color study
So, what would happen if I merged the background of a still life from my former painting life with the explorations of portraiture that I am currently interested in? Wouldn't that be the same as creating interesting texture in the background? Notice the color study has no interesting texture, although it has better brush handling.

Honestly, the first mark is the hardest. I had to take that still life out of the frame, clean it off, etc. Then I took an enormous amount of cadmium red light mixed with cadmium orange medium and started blocking out the head.

Then there is that moment when I realized that I had completely ruined the 'finished' painting. Now, since I hated it anyways, it started to become fun to get rid of those lame grapes. It was very difficult to paint a portrait over a dark still life without gessoing any of it. But I just kept at it.

Well...after much time and much cadmium can see the results.