I have a confession: I talk to my paintings.
It sounds weird I know. But it’s the trick I’ve used to be spontaneous and somewhat unplanned in my art.
I start with an image in my mind. Usually I catch a glimpse of an artwork in that time just between awake and asleep as I’m falling asleep at night. That’s when I know what painting I should work on next. I let that image percolate like coffee in my mind, letting the flavor of the work seep into my mind’s eye.
Usually the image has a clear image, composition or color that I start with. In the case of my Ruth painting I knew what color I wanted her hair and that I wanted big gold stripes behind her. This is a planning sketch:
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Once I sketch out the painting and complete an underpainting I sit with the work and stare at it. That’s when I’ll ask: what do you want next?
Then I wait.
Sometimes I get an answer immediately, sometimes I sit in front of the work for hours or days before I know what’s next. But if I’m patient and quiet, I always hear an answer.
That’s how I find their names, too. They tell me as I work on them who they are and what they want. One of my anonymous women was clear from the beginning about her name. (I haven’t quite unveiled her yet). She told me her name and to include a big embroidered background from a vintage wallpaper design. Sometimes listening to their requests can get me into a bit trouble: that work has taken me close to 100 hours just on the embroidery alone!
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I’m making progress on my second Anonymous Woman and that’s a good thing, because I get to show these ladies at Trinity Gallery next year! 💃💃💃 I finally have the solo show I’ve wanted and for a special group of artworks. 😊🎨🍾 But boy I hope my next girls don’t ask for the same amount of embroidery 😂😜😇
This process of talking to my art is a constant reminder to me of why being comfortable in the unknown and unpredictable is worthy of my time.
I’m forced to face the running dialogue of my perfectionist inner critic, who tells me I can’t, I’ll never be good enough, that there is always more to do. Somehow, in the act of asking my artwork for help and listening, that inner critic quiets and I feel great comfort in my imperfect mark making that leads to my finished art.
These Anonymous Women I’m creating have been recently selected to be part of my first solo show, hosted by the city of Ottawa at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Opening reception is Dec 1, 2019. I hope to see you there!
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