Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This painting in a previous incarnation made the cover of January's Real Change newspaper. In March I tipped it on its side and began a new painting and worked it for a few weeks. Then it sat.
Two weeks ago, someone contacted me about purchasing the original painting. I had to tell her that it no longer existed. It was the third time in a month that people wanted to buy a painting that had disappeared because I painted over it.
Today I finally returned to the painting and am slowly going back into it. It's a crummy photo - the blue cast on the right is a shift in the lights in the studio. 48"x48", oil on canvas
I'm attempting to keep some of the looseness, the drawing lines and some transparent glazes while at the same time trying to build up the piece. Slow going.
This weekend is an annual camping weekend with some groovy folks including a few I consider family. I'm so very much looking forward to time away, in the woods, with a pool, and a hot tub, surrounded by sexy naked people. I'm bringing a book, my journal, a sketchpad, and other goodies...such as my fave toy - a very thin carbon fiber rod. And I will not have my computer. Thus far I'm excited about the play planned with various folks as well as excited to see what else unfolds.
After the crazy, busy last few months, it will be nice to get away for a bit. Time to make out my list (ha...I first typed "my life").
I heart campfires.
The photo is of a piece that is hanging at the Ugly Mug in the UDistrict. They are dogs but remind me of fish and of sperm. I'm captured by its starkness as well as the contrast between the 3D, the flat line, the shadows of the dogs on the surface. Its charm makes me smile. And dachshunds are just plain silly.
I spent the weekend in a 2 day course on art and criticism. It was a perfect size class of six students and small enough to facilitate good discussions. Much art was viewed and experienced. As I told the group at the end of our weekend, I now have even more questions than what I walked in with but it's good stuff to gnaw on. What an enriching weekend!
Part of the questions involve my painting. Again, I could feel the slow build in questioning my purpose. Why do I paint what I paint? What strikes me? How do I, although analytical, am strongly a feeling person...and my art comes from that feeling place, find a place for my work in a world where thought appears to be elevated above the act of creation?
I like to paint. I need to paint. Mark making is shape shifting and is how I interpret my world. It is my attempt to make some kind of sense of what I see. As a tactile person, it needs to come from my hands.
Last night while at dinner with friends, one of them, a photographer, was relaying his current process of questioning his art. I shared my current similar quandary and then reminded myself by articulating to him that questioning my purpose can paralyze my practice.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
While in line at the Croc Sunday night in Belltown, I looked up and was treated to this view. Framed by the window and the peeling paint, there is a sense of importance. A treasured object sitting on its altar. Does someone still use that machine? If so, what do they make with it? Or is it part of the room's decoration? Or, maybe it belonged to someone's grandma and it is cherished for its memories.
As I'm looking at the photo this morning it brings back memories of my mom: the painter, the toy maker, the clothing designer, the decorator. She used to make many of our clothes...shirts and pants and dresses and coats. Mom would create the designs and cut out her own patterns. Adding details such as appliques of bright colored tulips on black velvet dresses and finding the perfect buttons for little plaid coats.
It's a comforting image, returning me to a time of innocence and nurturing. It wasn't idyllic, but definitely simpler.
Monday, June 27, 2011
I love this mountain. From the first time I saw it back in 1998, I called it the ghost mountain. It seems to appear at will. And sometimes, when atmospheric conditions are just right, it appears to double or triple in size. And other times when there is a bank of clouds near the base, it floats.
Yesterday was a cloudless, bright blue day and I strolled down the pier and noticed the mountain's massive presence. It never fails to take my breath.
Although I had other plans and couldn't attend any Pride events, all my memories of Pride weekends and its rich history were on my mind. Yesterday, I was able to take this...and today as the Needle is barren, it becomes one more memory.
Here is my neighborhood, shot by jseattle, all decked out for Pride.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Heading to the car after a wonderful painting session yesterday evening, I stopped to enjoy the light.
This morning's email brought a nice surprise - a review of my current show. Saturday is the final reception.
From the essay by Pete Milosovich:
"Ms. Gagnon’s powerful use of space creates an unyielding sense of depth and structure further emboldened by subdued earth tones, an intricate display of color and texture; decisive strokes that capture the design from broad opaque lines of black to the thinnest array of lines accenting the essential contour of constructed inorganic surfaces. When viewed as a whole the entire structure seems to vibrate with the emotionally charged immediacy of an impassioned blueprint of incredible design…forever eternalized."
You can read the entire piece here.
And here are a couple photos that Pete Milosovich took at the gallery a few weeks ago while I was working in my little sketchbook. This is part of a series of drawings that really rest my mind and make my hand happy.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
One thing you never want to hear from your dentist is "oh shit" and then "well, I tried". It happened after the psychologically grueling process of taking the first impression which freaks me out because I'm afraid that my teeth will come out when they pull the sticky impression stuff out of my mouth. And then he informed me they needed to do it again. But other than that, I have an amazing dentist and have been with him over 11 years.
The photo is another from that wonderful poster wall on Capitol Hill.
Tonight, I may actually have studio time with my studio mate. Our schedules haven't synched up in a while and it's always fun to be working side by side.
The Metropolitan Museum has a wonderful series called Connections. It’s a little slide show that is hosted by one of their staff on various topics, with new Connections every Wednesday. You can sign up at the site to receive new shows each week. This week they speak of … the dysfunctional families of the Olympian gods.
They are really good to experience. You can hit the main page with the different subjects at www.metmuseum.org/connections.
I talked with a friend this morning and it looks as if I may do two weeks on the east coast at the end of September, beginning of October.
A female scientist dives naked with Beluga whales in the Arctic. I wonder how long she could stay in the water. The photos are gorgeous.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
When one hasn't slept well in a while, even 5 solid hours makes a difference. And that's saying a lot for a girl who normally needs 7 - 8 hours of deep sleep. Quite productive today. It was a ten hour work day which included chasing Bodie around the office, and then a bus ride down to the studio where I enjoyed a beet/chicken salad with red wine, a couple teddy bear ginger cookies, completed this painting, and also managed to include a total hour of walking. It felt really good to get all that in there.
This isn't the painting I saw when I woke. I haven't started that one yet but am pretty pleased with the colors in this little painting. It's 12"x16", oil on canvas.
An odd piece of art that was on the end of the bar next to where I was sitting last week. The more time I spent with it, the more it amused me. Look at the paintbrush tail.
Some of my family is spending the week at Martha's Vineyard. My parents have had a timeshare there since the early '70's. My niece posted an FB status this morning and I longed for the place. I think it's been about 18 years since I've been, and intend on joining them next year.
In addition to the various series I'm working, this past weekend I decided I'd like to paint more of my studio. Not only with hints of the viaduct, but various corners and scenes. A month after I moved in, I was part of the 30 paintings in 30 days show. I painted snippets from my painting space...the way the light fell in the corner, or my studio mate's painting stool. Since then, the painting has become surer and I'm looking forward to seeing how I capture it now.
This morning I woke with paintings behind my eyes.
Monday, June 20, 2011
I just booked a week's vacation and honestly, right now I hope to make it until the end of July. Life has been moving so fast in the last 3 months. Big work stuff. My dental implant stuff. All the energy around the art stuff. Some physical stuff. It's all good and yet, I am so exhausted.
Yes, I had a four week sabbatical in March but began painting on the first day and painted all the way through it. I truly haven't had a decent break in a while. I've been holding off on taking a vacation until the first implant was complete and before I begin the work on the second tooth. In addition, I didn't want a week that had art walk, or any art related "must do's".
I'm seeking a much alone, nothing on my calendar (fun or work), be fully lazy kind of time. Whatever I'll do will be entirely spontaneous. And that, will be heaven.
(photo taken last week while in Georgetown)
Yesterday I had a wonderful time at the Stronghold artist community for their first artist's grant event. The host was pretty awesome...warm and inviting, and also assisted me with hanging the work. I had brought a few extra paintings because I wasn't quite sure how we'd exhibit everything. We showed all except for one tiny piece which really didn't fit. The paintings looked good in the yard and in the large dining/living room that opened up onto the outside. There was a solid, warm energy emanating from the group of folks who had come together for community, food and art. A small band was playing Brazilian swing. The music was happy. The food was quite tasty. And I left with some new connections, an invite to see (hear) some good jazz on Friday evening and grant dollars in my pocket! It was definitely pretty and its brilliance is in its simplicity. I liked how it wasn't a slick arts thing. Although the event is created by arts administrators, curators and other artists, it felt truly grassroots and organic. Down to earth and natural.
All in all, a super groovy vibe.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
After a rainy morning spent in the studio prepping canvases with hanging wire and choosing which paintings to exhibit for today's event at the Stronghold artist community, we wandered the hill. The Sisters were out in force at Bat 'N Rouge, the drag queens vs dykes annual softball game fundraiser for the Capitol Hill Alano Club. And the rain stopped in time for the game.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
For the last week, with increasing intensity, I've been missing people from my past as well as feeling old wounds. Not sure what it's about but it's heightened to a point where today I have difficulty speaking and have to force myself to even share this little amount here.
The photo was taken yesterday evening. My favorite wall...an ever evolving space of color, text, texture and light. It's the poster wall on 11th between Pike and Pine.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday evening felt like the first time in a long while where I went into the studio and just played with paint instead of thinking about completing a canvas. I've been able to be mindful of play time outside of the studio but lost a little of that balance in it. It was a great couple hours just being with paint. I was actually giddy.
The reason it hasn't been happening as often in the last few months is because I haven't been sleeping as deeply as in the past. My body is changing as it enters a new season and it is affecting my rest...therefore the exhaustion. So when I have a little extra strength, I've been focused on completing paintings in a more diligent manner. Tuesday felt like a gift.
a mess of an entry...
I have been reflecting quite a bit on why I paint, in an attempt to create a basic artist statement that isn't attached to any one series.
I am not a conceptual artist.
I think a statement would be easier if I were. I have many ideas, concepts I could work into art but don't because for me, it would be disingenuous. I know that conceptual art is what tends to get noticed (especially in Seattle) and if I did it, I know it would be to become popular. My intention needs to remain as pure as possible...close to my core/heart. This is not a put down on conceptual art. It's just not who I am. Or not at this time in my life.
In our studio group the other night, I mentioned that I paint because I like to mush paint around. If there is a meaning behind the work, it tends to reveal itself slowly, over months of working the series. Little by little I'll see my subconscious at work in the evolution of the canvases.
One exception may be the Sedna series because for many months I had been meditating on how to paint her, conceived of the block as the human with no limbs, and worked it in an isolated landscape.
When I first began painting still lifes back in the mid-nineties, it took about a year before I realized I was actually painting relationships. And I was placing myself in every painting...as one particular deep blue bottle. A small cobalt bottle that would always be placed in the corner...sometimes partially hidden.
The viaduct series began because I like the viaduct. In time, I realized I was painting the dissolution of what appears solid. And again, relationships and communication. Watching the viaduct from my window one afternoon, I paid attention to the lower level going south and the upper heading north. I laughed because so many relationships do that very thing. The tools are the same, (cars, road) the words, similar. And yet, they aren't hearing each other.
Ideally, I like to begin with a spark of something. A shape or the light will catch my eye and it needs to be painted. Many times inspiration is lacking but it is still important to paint. Moving my hand will bring forth ideas.
And now, after having written all this, I think of the little drawings I'm doing almost daily in my sketchbook. They begin with an intent...a concept.
Even when uninspired, my head is not so detached from my hand that when I mark the canvas it comes from an empty space. There is always a goal.
Here are my jumbled words attempting to find a reason for why I paint. How the hell can I write about it? And how does my clumsy attempt to articulate my art fit into this world with its heady and polished statements? As soon as I begin to put down words, I feel it's all bullshit.
When I speak with someone in the studio about a particular painting or series, I see their excitement grow. They were intrigued enough to consider the work and then some emotional connection happens through dialogue. In talking, I feel it can all remain fluid whereas when I struggle to put my painting thoughts on paper, a panic sets in because the text on the page gives a sense of stasis.
I don't want to be lazy with the creation of a statement but maybe it's enough to say I paint because I have to. No other reason. Dunno. But I'm still working on it.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
(this photo was taken at the carnival on Saturday)
I expected this to be a quieter week but there are some exciting developments such as a surprise show this weekend and a large purchase of paintings from a collector who saw my work online. So it's a matter of prepping canvases for shipping as well as choosing art for Sunday's event. And tonight is studio group.
In sharp contrast, my best friend's dad passed away and he is back east right now, grieving with his family. My heart hurts for them and I wish I could be there to hold my bf's hand.
It also makes me miss my family even more. Considering I almost lost my dad 20 years ago to lymphoma and then again another scare about 3 years ago due to something else, it's a sobering reminder how life can be quickly cut. I spent quite a while on the phone with my parents last night, laughing and listening to them. Their aging fragility is heightened with each phone call. I love my parents.
Life is short. And it remains interesting.
Monday, June 13, 2011
B and I only get together once every few months, but each time is potent. Our conversations are filled with an emotional depth and I always leave feeling nourished. Last week when he took me to dinner as thanks for assisting him with hauling compost and mulch, we shared another such rich experience.
We spoke of loss, we spoke of survivor's guilt, we spoke of art, we spoke of life. A few times thoughts would come out of his mouth that I just needed to write down. Not having my little sketchbook, I grabbed my paper calendar and scribbled his words over dates and appointments.
While enjoying a deep red Malbec and a bowl of gnocchi with duck, arugula and a cranberry balsamic glaze, I was also fed by B...(his words in italics):
"We need to be witnessed and we need to be thanked."
(I mentioned to him I had just said we all need to be witnessed to my studio group a month ago, but I love the addition of the second part.)
On life in general: "The only game in town is a really rough game."
As he relayed a story about a hospice nurse, formerly a geriatrics and obstrectrics nurse he knew in SF...he quoted her as she explained why she chose those specialties:
"People who are coming and going know what's real. Everyone else is full of shit."
It made so much sense because although we all have our own truth there is something powerful in birth and death that I believe allows for clearer vision.
And in regards to my art:
"Your broken heart let something in."
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Images from yesterday's outing at the Georgetown Carnival...
We saw this old pink car and of course because it went so well with Bill's shirt, I asked him if he'd pose with the car.
"G" Blockhead selling Volcanic Mineral Refresher -
A "participant" in Seattle's Power Tool Race Drag Racing
Neapolitan pizza is probably my favorite. I think I need to hire this guy and his pizza oven for a party sometime.
...and more clowns.
Stuff at the carnival market...
And there was a "trailer park"...
The weather was perfect. Although I really didn't capture it with my camera, it was a wonderful mix of freakiness, nerdiness, oddness, artsy, old hippies, young hipsters, queers, geeks and weirdos all rolled into a big ball of colorful and silly creativity.
While at the studio yesterday I decided to wander to Occidental Park to see if Gallery (206), the public installation, was still in good shape. It's exposed to the elements...in a park frequented by not only tourists but also disenfranchised folks. The area has many bars as well as close to the stadiums which means many drunken revelers. As I approached the park, an "ohhh!" slipped from my mouth. Most of the trees in the park were wearing brightly covered knitted attire. So pretty!
And then I turned my attention to the phone booth. There it was. Unblemished.
I thought for sure some of the pages in the phone book would have been ripped out but no...everything was intact. And still lovely. Honestly, I was surprised. But there was this vibe around the booth...as if it was a cherished part of this little park. Quite astounding and so very sweet.
The book contains 206 artists. Along with the image of our art, we could include info about the work and/or our contact info. In addition to the medium I provided my website. Here's my page:
An additional treat was the two people in the booth flipping through the pages. We began to chat and I learned the man was also featured in the book. On opening night a few weeks ago I didn't have the opportunity to check out all the pages. But in what I saw, one page powerfully struck me and the man I was speaking with happened to be the artist. Here is his page:
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Since Thursday, I've attempted to blog three or four times but it wasn't going to happen. Either too busy or recovering from being too busy. Lots going on.
Wednesday evening, instead of going to the studio a friend called me for assistance. He needed a ride to Home Depot next to Starbucks HQ for mulch and compost. We popped into the studio on the way to the store so I could show him some work as well as pick up some business cards for Thursday night's artist reception. Afterward he took me to dinner and I got home late and crashed.
Thursday. Serious work deadlines. And this is after 3 days of immersing myself in spreadsheets for 10, 11 and 12 hours respectively. I began the day at the oral surgeon. He said my implant healed well and an appointment will be booked for the permanent tooth. Then rushing to finish reports at the office so I could leave early for a little alone time before the reception at the gallery. After the reception, I went home and crashed.
Friday morning, up early to meet someone at my studio for a studio visit. After spending relaxed time they purchased two paintings from an older series. I then rushed home to grab a phone number because I had been selected for a fun show in an alternative venue and needed to contact the creator for details. This new solo exhibit is June 19th. Next week! I'm going to check out the space on Sunday so I can plan which work to hang.
I returned to the studio yesterday afternoon to set up the space for painting. After art walk last week, the photo shoot two days later and then a week of hardcore day job tasks I didn't have time to dismantle the art walk stuff let alone paint. I spent the afternoon reorganizing my storage and meticulously going through paintings, deciding which to keep and pulled about ten of them to paint over. I also took some time to figure out what to work on next.
This morning I needed to respond to emails…one from someone who wants to see the current show and another from someone who is interested in buying a painting they saw on my website.
I'm truly excited because it feels as if I am moving into a season where the business of art is taking up as much time as painting. And I'm conflicted because the business of art is cutting into my painting time. Trying to balance is a learning experience.
Today I will paint.