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River/Flow Chart #1

Turquoise, teal, aqua, robin’s egg, cyan, spruce – this range of cool blue-greens has been obsessing me for the last few months.  Perhaps it’s a reaction to the chaos on the front page news, and certainly reflects my inner need for balance and harmony.  If color alone can heal, these hues are healing me.

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Untitled 2015/23

Untitled 2015/23 measures 40 x 41.”  At the the abstract level, it juxtaposes and combines two disparate presentations of the same flow pattern, circles (bubbles) and “puddles.”  It’s intriguing to me that the similarities in the twin flow patterns – larger underlying shapes – is not immediately apparent, but the harmony between them is sensed.

Here are some associations from Wikipedia for blue-greens:

refreshing, feminine, calming, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, spiritual grounding, love, patience, intuition.

Release #2

Release #2/Wayne

I have been thinking of the pleasures of tradition as I’ve been listening to new music at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival this summer.  Yesterday, in particular, during a concert of works by young composers-in-residence, the new sounds elicited from classically trained musicians on their conventional instruments had my ears perking up.  The music sounded both old and fresh, familiar and newly introduced.  This dichotomy engages one’s deep memories while surprising us into paying complete attention.   Nothing, not rhythm, tonality, harmony or melody can be taken for granted, and yet the format (in this case) was the string quartet, as well-established as can be.

Something similar operates in my paintings, with their traditional framed formats.   The watercolor medium still employs gum arabic from acacia trees and many of the pigments have been used for centuries, altho some are now synthetic.  On the other hand, the translucent synthetic paper I use (Yupo) has only been available since the end of the last century, so the ability to layer transparencies is new, and Yupo’s non-absorbent surface causes the paint to behave in unprecedented ways.   Abstraction itself now has a grand tradition of over a hundred years but offers plenty of unexplored territory.

Release #2/Wayne is another in the series of elegies for my husband.  There’s something about the color and softness, the upright format and upward-rising visual flow that feels to me like an abstract portrait of him.

2009, watercolor on layered synthetic paper, 40 x 60"

                       Galisteo #2 – 2009, watercolor on layered synthetic paper, 40 x 60″

This large painting, inspired in color by glorious autumn cottonwoods along the Galisteo River, has been selected for purchase by the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter.  Facilitated by the New Mexico Arts, Art in Public Places Purchase Initiative, the placement seems so appropriate to the life-affirming mission of the shelter.  I’m really pleased and proud to think of my work hanging there.  Actually, they are buying two paintings, but I thought I’d show you this vibrant, exuberant one.

Galisteo #2 was made in 2009, obviously a good year for cottonwoods.  Looking at it again I’m reminded of how much my work depends on forces beyond my conscious control.  Although I had no plan for this piece beyond the color, somehow it conveys a sense of trees in sunlight that is purely fortuitous.  I find that the more I allow life, paint, events, to arrive of their own accord, the richer my experience and the better my art.

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Every once in a while someone says something about my work that absolutely floors me, and I know  I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do, which is to present the beauty of being.  Recently, Devon Lind wrote that “it’s as though the fabric of the universe is woven through your work.”   Thank-you so much, Devon, for putting into words what I have a hard time saying.   This painting, Driftwood #1, seems the perfect expression of her idea, with its vertical rhythms and horizontal visual flow.

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Although the show is over, I am still considering the significance of this exhibit, which beautifully demonstrated the continuing influence of Modernism on the arts here in New Mexico.  This influence, abundantly present in our local galleries and museums, was one reason I moved to Lamy back in 1997.  I felt my work could be seen here in a context that doesn’t exist in Southern California, where I was living, nor in New York, where it has been all but superceded by more recent ideas like conceptual art, identity and political explorations and the celebrity art culture.

Cumulous Skies brought the work of over 30 contemporary artists together with the art of earlier 20-th century painters and visionaries like Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Agnes Martin, Marsden Hartley and Ansel Adams, who all spent signifiant time in this state, finding fellowship and inspiration here and influencing the path of Modern Art.  They, in turn, were influenced by Native American crafts – the Navajo weavings and pueblo pottery – and something about the landscape and clear light of New Mexico.  I don’t think the seminal importance of our “Land of Enchantment” has been fully realized by the wider art world.

Curated by artist Larry Fodor and supported in part by a grant from the NEA,  Cumulous Skies showcased paintings, sculpture, ceramics and video art from our varied constituency of Native Americans, “Anglos” from all over the country who have chosen to live here, and artists of New Mexico hispanic background.  It was a stunning display of variety and coherence.

Chi Gong #8 – watercolor on synthetic paper

My fourth one-person show at SMINK in Dallas opens on Saturday, October 13th.  I’ll be exhibiting work from the Chi Gong series as well as other paintings with repeating horizontal bars of color.  If you are in Dallas, please come and see the show.

As explained in the post before this, I do chi gong, or energy practice, before beginning to paint in the studio.  Among the many forms of chi gong, I was lucky enough to learn a very yin, or allowing, form that addresses not only the physical but also the mental/spiritual self.  It’s the perfect preparation for the art I do, centering and opening me to the energies of the present moment.

The chi gong practice begins with specific postures and the mantras that accompany them, then the body is simply allowed to move of its own accord.  Lately I’ve been appreciating how much this form has influenced my art process, which is to set up specific rules of shape and size, etc., then let the paint move.  It requires a certain faith that the outcome will be appropriate, and it’s never the same twice.

Is Golden Curtain a vertical or a horizontal painting?  I originally published it on the “Paintings” page as a horizontal, 41 x 55,” but this morning it suddenly demanded to be vertical.  What do you think?

The composition of an abstract painting, or any painting for that matter, should work in all directions, although the subject matter of say, a still life, makes sense only one way.  I remember my dad turning his paintings around to check their compositional strength and sometimes changing the orientation altogether.  This is a practice worth continuing, but sometimes I… forget.  So now I’m wondering if this painting should be signed in two directions.

In “Green Light River” I have continued to combine sheets of small circles with overlays of horizontal bars.  The combination feels rich, almost Romantic, to me in relation to the paintings with just one kind of shape in them.   These combination paintings read as abstract landscapes, with the bars suggesting rock strata or multiple horizons.   My materials – watercolor and synthetic paper – and repetitive process unfold in unexpected manifestations, bringing surprises and freshness into the studio.

I think winter is my favorite time to paint.  There are fewer distractions in the garden or the cultural life of Santa Fe, and the light turns softer.  On overcast days, there is a milky, indirect quality  to it that seems to seep into the studio, enclosing me in the world of color/paint/transparency.

In a little explosion of creativity, over the past few weeks I’ve learned to combine the circle grids and the bar/stripe grids in the paintings. something I thought I’d never do.  This takes the work a little farther from the monochrome minimalist look and into richer, more complex territory.  What factors led to these changes are mostly mysterious to me, but I did find myself listening to Schubert instead of  Reich in the studio.   Some “old-fashioned” sense of composing calls to me now that wants more than repetition – maybe even a start, middle and finish to the visual experience.

Gold Light River, at 42 x 41,” is one of the smaller paintings in this series so far.  I’m particularly excited about some tall vertical paintings that will soon be making their appearance on the blog.  These paintings challenge my notions and rules of what is allowed into my art.  It’s a good stretch that strengthens my thinking and intuition and lets even more light into the work.

This new painting represents a departure from the circle-grid Nymph paintings I’ve been doing.  Chancing to see of one of Donald Judd’s stacked wall sculptures got me thinking about the appeal of regularity in so-called minimal art of the last century.  I decided to employ a precisely measured arrangement of stripes using the watercolor on polypropylene.  The way the paint pooled within the stripes surprised me.   So, here is a painting in which the stripes are regular (3″ stripes of paint and 3″ spaces between) but the placement and overlapping are intuitive.  There’s a dance between the chaotic flow of paint, the striped grids and the translucent overlaps.

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