small ‘exercise’ paintings

small paintings 1-9
Had a bit of a play yesterday, using small (5 x 7 inches…approximately 13 x 18 cm) canvases. I started each one as a pool of two or three colors, allowing them to bleed into each other (or smooshing them together with a brush, if they were thicker) and dry. Then I’d wait until there was a detail that I wanted to paint in…hair, or coils, or round bubble shapes…and let the shape and colors lead the way to a finished image.

These were fun. Didn’t do any planning or trying to determine things in advance. I would just get this idea that I wanted to paint a fragment of knitting…so I’d pick up one of the canvases with a dry blob of paint on it, and start fitting rows of knitting over it, just as though I were making a sweater for a jelly monster. These felt more like studies for bigger paintings.

I do think an artist should actually work in different sizes like small, medium and large. I mean, your head can occupy the small, that size….And big is your body and medium is, I think medium is the hardest to operate because it occupies only part of your body. Like either just from your neck to your knees or from your head to the top of your genitals or, I mean, it’s a weird kind of scale and size.
—Squeak Carnwath, in conversation with John Yau

It seems strange to me, and yet completely right, that the size of the canvas determines my approach to it, and the feeling of the finished work. This particular size I associate with postcards and pocket books…ephemeral things that wink in and out of existence. I don’t feel the need to paint anything sweeping or exhaustive. Don’t need to work layer upon layer, waiting for something to slowly emerge out of all that paint. The need for a narrative, or to arrange several elements together so that they inhabit a small universe within the painting, is absent. I’m happy to paint one small blobby, hilly, lumpen object, without making any references to its past or future. For me these are really about the colors, and the small gestures of mark-making that texture the surface.

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If not Now, Zen when?

If not Now, Zen when?

The sun is setting on the last day of my weekend (I work three days a week, take four days off…Lucky me? Darlink, luck has nothing to do with it!) and it was a great four days of painting, doodling. meditating, listening to music and audio books, and just sitting around enjoying the sun-drenched weather. Most of the little canvases in the photograph are in early stages; I only tiled them because they look nice together. they may look completley different when they’re done.

I’m so grateful for this lazy, creative break…and find that I am also looking forward to going in to work, tomorrow, because everything has its beautiful moments and reasons for being, and I am eager…almost hungry, now, for the outside world and its energies and people.

For three days I’ve seen and spoken only to my two favorite cats…snapped together here, in an unguarded moment (because neither Dude nor Kris like having their pictures taken, and make it a point to face away from me or scowl when I am holding a camera; but I was quick this morning…Kris is even sort-of-smiling, which is very rare, in a photo)

unguarded moment

I’m off now, to enjoy the last of the light…parathas on the menu for dinner, using the freshly-harvested turmeric that’s been growing on the back of the boat for over a year. The deep yellow-orange color is unreal, and the flavor is milder than powdered turmeric. I am looking forward to what I imagine will be pale gold discs of hot parathas with yoghurt and mint chutney tonight!

Hope the rest of your week is wonderful. See you in a few days…
fresh turmeric