Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In the Forest

In the Forest in the Desert

I finished this painting this week, tentatively called "In the Forest, in the Desert," (3ft by 4ft.) I've been told that is a bad title. So it might change. It is a hard one to name because I don't think it translates into words.

This is autobiographical (as always) and is a made up space with a desert on the left and northeastern woods on the right side knitted together into one space. I tried to make the landscapes different enough it was clear it was southwest meets northwest-- but not so different it looked like two different paintings. Ultimately I wanted to make a scene that took more than a brief glance to figure out.

I thought this one was done a month or two ago, but after staring at it for a while I decided some things were not working for me. I worked on some other pieces on the meantime which gave me some ideas for this one. In the end I nearly repainting the entire thing-- and repainted the figure on the right 3-4 times changing the color of her dress. It was gray, then yellow, then red. At the end I decided to make it black-- to create a rhythm with the black bird, foreground figure in black, and then a third piece of black. The red dress was too overpowering and disrupted the way a viewer should experience it. I had just painted the clothing on the figure and was about to repaint the reflection when a friend walked by and stopped me. She said the reflection should stay red. I didn't agree at the time but luckily decide to look at it for a few days. In the end, she was right, and the red reflection is just the right amount of red and adds a weirdness to the scene that I love. You can't plan everything.

Maybe I should call this painting "Nature" since I was reading a biography of Emerson while I worked on it.

Here is a detail of my favorite part:

In the Forest in the Desert (detail)

Below is a previous painting I finished just before the holidays, "Two Coasts" (also 3ft by 4ft)

Two Coasts

This is another one where I tried to knit east & west coast together but in a different more literal way-- with Los Angeles on the left and Boston on the right. I repeated the exact same figure but with a slightly different gaze on each.

I am exploring breaking the unity of space and time. I am thinking of having figures being repeated even more times to create a journey. I don't want to paint paintings that are a moment in time that could be captured as well or better with a camera.

When I work out the concept of a painting, I approach it more like an installation concept vs. a painting concept. Except most of my ideas are too impossible to ever make into an installation (like move New Mexico next to Vermont impossible.) I love that everything is possible in painting though.

I am currently reading "Collages" by Anais Nin. I love it. I'm reading it slowly to savor it since it is a short book and I will miss it when it is done. I recommend it for anyone who has lived in LA, or is an artist, or both.