New Work: Compassionate Hope
16" x 20" painted paper collage on matboard
EIt seems like this piece took me forever. There was a long time when I was just gathering and painting paper. Then the shapes had to be cut. Since I hadn't been sketching a lot, I needed to sketch some shapes. More cutting. More painting of papers. Honestly, I have been very slow lately. Once I started placing and gluing shapes however, the pace started to pick up.
This piece is a departure from how I normally work. Hardly ever do I have a design or idea in mind when I start. I have colors and shapes that I have selected but that is it. For the last two pieces though I have started with a loose sketch. It's because I have become enamored of molecules. More specifically, I love the structures of compounds. (Loosely speaking, molecules are two or more atoms of the same chemical that come together. Compounds happen when different molecules join together to form a new chemical, like H2O.) Compounds, molecules or chemicals -whatever!- are such beautiful structures. There is an inherent efficiency to their forms with both a simplicity and a complexity of configuration.
When I first started thinking about this, about using chemicals as inspiration for my collages, I wondered if it would work. Specifically, would I like following something that was already drawn? Would I become entangled in following the picture too closely and lose any kind of spontaneity in decision making? That honestly didn't happen so good news there. I always tell myself (out loud) that it is OK to not follow the sketch or plan or whatever I feel bound to. I have been happy so far with having a kind of roadmap to follow as I work. And the list of chemicals are endless. So, for now I am hooked. Incidentally, the chemical compound that my piece is modeled on is the drug Remdesivir. The title of the piece reflects one of the possible uses of the drug and the controversy surrounding the decisions being made about who is eligible to receive treatment. These are very hard times we are living in and that is an understatement.
Now, on to the real thing I want to discuss. I realized with this last piece (once and for all) that I am not a "concept" artist. When I start a new piece, I am not trying to portray or make something that has explicit meaning or portrays something specific, like a landscape. I liken this to the horse-before-the-cart analogy. The artist sets out to show something specific; to represent something. It's a logical way of working and one which many artists (other than me) employ effectively. My process is to ascribe meaning to something as I am working on it. It's a cart-before-the-horse approach. Sure, I may use shapes and colors along the way to portray something specific. This can be seen in much of my work from 2019 shown here. But I rarely ever these days set out to illustrate a point, concept, or to make a specific design. With the piece shown above, I am not trying to say anything in particular about the drug, Remdesivir. I simply liked its design and felt that my shapes would work nicely within its general armature. At most, I would say the colors I chose support some idea of "softness" which I feels fits in with the concept of compassion. Additionally, there are some circles loosely represented which for me can refer to the circular nature of arguing for or against something, of fighting through "red tape" to get something or of "jumping through hoops" to make something happen. This is all analysis after the fact, mind you. everyone needs to look at the piece and decide on their own what is happening, if anything.
So, what I want to know is this. If you are reading and are a creative type, particularly a painter, I would like to know which camp you fall into. Or even if you just want to comment on any of the above. Drop me an email or leave a comment on IG or FB.
Thanks again for reading!
New Work: Psychedelic
Painted paper collage
16" x 20"
Quite a while ago I had cut out some shapes from solid colored paper. I had an idea but never followed up on it. The shapes sort of languished on my floor as I worked on monoprinting and making pieces from those prints. At the end of April, after my last piece, I began to wonder about those solid shapes. What could I do with them? I really missed what I perceive as the clarity of those solid colors. They give a different effect from the monoprinted shapes I think. I was nervous though about trying something different. I felt that my last several pieces were good-a step in the right direction. Should I deviate from that idea?
And then, just by accident, I happened across an image of a psilocybin molecule. Totally unrelated right? Sort of. As I started to investigate psilocybin, I came across other molecules. They all seemed to have these beautiful structures. You can see one here and here. I hope that I have a real appreciation for all sorts of beauty in all kinds of places and in all types of things. Images of molecules really speak to me somehow; their order and arrangement, not to mention how their atoms come together and break apart. (You can read more about molecules here.) I am not a chemistry person (I barely squeaked by in high school chemistry class) but I can appreciate these ideas on a general level.
So, I began to think about using these structures as a basis for making my pieces. They looked an awful lot like what I was trying to do already, which is to make some kind of sense and order out of all of these shapes. I had been moving towards a more formal arrangement of the shapes already but was a little stuck. Molecules and their inherent beauty are a good answer for me.
Psilocybin as you might know is the compound found in magic mushrooms. I don't have too much curiosity about the use of psychedelic drugs other than to know that the drugs have had many purposes throughout history and are used by different cultures around the world. I will settle for just admiring the beauty of their molecular structure!
And while my final piece doesn't follow the shape of the compound exactly, it works well for my purposes. I wanted a dominant area and then some subordinate areas. Linking everything together was challenging and I kept some areas separate from each other. Hopefully the piece is balanced. I will be trying the idea again soon and will make modifications. For now, I am happy with the initial efforts.