“Truth Betrayed by Innocence,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 58″ x 38″
A: It’s mainly because answers close down imagination and creativity. I enjoy hearing alternative interpretations of my pastel paintings. People are wildly imaginative and each person brings unique insights to their art viewing. By leaving meanings open, conversation is generated. Most artists want viewers to talk about their work.
Once at a public artist’s talk that I attended, I was told by an artist that my interpretation of her title was completely wrong. First of all, how can an interpretation honestly expressed by your audience be “wrong?” Art is as open to interpretation as a Rorschach test (art IS a kind of Rorshach test). Then she explained the thinking behind her title and succeeded in cutting off all further conversation. I felt belittled. Later several people told me that my interpretation was much more compelling. Still, the experience was mortifying and I hope to never do that to anyone.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2015, An Artist's Life, Art in general, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Inspiration, Painting in General, Pastel Painting
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* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
What is the point of all the discipline, hard work, and training? What does the training and preparation have to do with rehearsing a play and with performance? The training and the discipline and the sweating and the study and the memorizing are not the end point, but rather the entry. The preparation is what gives one the permission to take up space and make wild, surprising, and untamed choices. In the quest for artistic freedom and agency it is impossible to walk into a rehearsal room uninhibited, unburdened. We are generally chained down by habits and assumptions and by fear of the new. Permission is what we earn by the sweat, training, preparatory work and dedication.
Anne Bogart in What’s the Story: Essays in art, theater, and storytelling
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Posted in 2014, An Artist's Life, Art in general, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Inspiration, New York, NY, Pastel Painting, Pearls from Artists, Photography, Quotes, Studio, Working methods
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Barbara in Bali (far right)
A: My process is extremely slow and labor-intensive.
First, there is foreign travel – often to Mexico, Guatemala or someplace in Asia – to find the cultural objects – masks, carved wooden animals, paper mâché figures, and toys – that are my subject matter. I search the local markets, bazaars, and mask shops for these folk art objects. I look for things that are old, that look like they have a history, and were probably used in religious festivals of some kind. Typically, they are colorful, one-of-a- kind objects that have lots of inherent personality. How they enter my life and how I get them back to my New York studio is an important part of my art-making practice.
My working methods have changed dramatically over the nearly thirty years that I have been an artist. My current process is a much simplified version of how I used to work. As I pared down my imagery in the current series, “Black Paintings,” my creative process quite naturally pared down, too.
One constant is that I have always worked in series with each pastel painting leading quite naturally to the next. Another is that I always set up a scene, plan exactly how to light and photograph it, and work with a 20″ x 24″ photograph as the primary reference material.
In the setups I look for eye-catching compositions and interesting colors, patterns, and shadows. Sometimes I make up a story about the interaction that is occurring between the “actors,” as I call them.
In the “Domestic Threats” series I photographed the scene with a 4″ x 5″ Toyo Omega view camera. In my “Gods and Monsters” series I shot rolls of 220 film using a Mamiya 6. I still like to use an old analog camera for fine art work, although I have been rethinking this practice.
Nowadays the first step is to decide which photo I want to make into a painting (currently I have a backlog of photographs to choose from) and to order a 19 1/2″ x 19 1/2″ image (my Mamiya 6 shoots square images) printed on 20″ x 24″ paper. They recently closed, but I used to have the prints made at Manhattan Photo on West 20th Street in New York. Now I go to Duggal. Typically I have in mind the next two or three paintings that I want to create.
Once I have the reference photograph in hand, I make a preliminary tonal charcoal sketch on a piece of white drawing paper. The sketch helps me think about how to proceed and points out potential problem areas ahead.
Only then am I ready to start actually making the painting.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2014, An Artist's Life, Art in general, Bali and Java, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Domestic Threats, Gods and Monsters, Guatemala, Inspiration, Mexico, Pastel Painting, Photography, Travel, Working methods
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