# 9. New territory

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Territory: Terrain. Ground. Land. Place… Striking out into new territory implies leaving the old one. Exciting, intimidating, courageous. Over the past six months I’ve made a conscious shift from the sculptural mixed-media work and text-informed drawing I had been doing for some years to landscape painting. In my distant past I painted (didn’t we all?) — everything from figure + still life to landscape. Later on, around 2006-7, I was exploring the idea of landscape through abstraction and energetic expression– not painting places, but playing with shape, color, line, etc. and turning it into landscape. Now I’m re-exploring landscape informed by intuitive mark-making, layering of color, gestural brushwork, and spontaneity, and referencing place. It’s a revival of my love of nature, beauty, land, vista. And a departure, a welcome one, from the emotionally-driven, personal narrative work of my (fairly recent) past, which focused on relationship, using metaphor and/or symbolism, specific imagery, objects and text. Which is not to say that at some point I won’t go back (or forward, as the case may be) to doing sculptural work again. I love the hands-on manipulation of 3-D stuff, especially burning paper and sewing it with bronze wire  as well as playing with all sorts of materials for collage and assemblage. (Bring on the glue!)

Landscape, to me, is more than painting pretty pictures. It speaks of place, wayfinding, “carving a path”… In the words of author Dominique Browning:  (“Slow Love Life”)– “We don’t find paths, do we? We carve them, into what seem like impenetrable terrains, never certain where exactly we are going even when we are certain we are fooling ourselves.” At this point,  I’m not certain of where I’m going, or whether or not I’m fooling myself. But I’m in the studio, being brave, consistently challenging myself even as I ask “why does the world need another landscape painting?”

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Although, I can answer that too: it’s about the energy of the work, the intention, the quality of place, mark-making, and letting go of the desire to shock, stand out, or say something “profound.” It is, for me now, the experience of creating the painted surface, infused with passion and beauty. The word “biophelia” comes to mind : “an innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind” (Also: Bjork’s  project .)

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So– I’m striking out, one stroke at a time: curious about where the path is leading, where I’ll be going this year to find even newer territory, and leaving you with a question: Are you making radical shifts this year, in your life/work/medium/concept? Is your territory new or comfortably old? I welcome your comments– after all, the real reason I’m striking out here is to expand my tribe, my vision, and my work, and hopefully yours as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Barrington Summer House”  30×30″.  mixed media on canvas © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

#8. Look/See: A winter’s walk on the High Line

Image The High Line in winter,  from Washington St. & Gansevoort St.

Last weekend, I finally made it back to New York. City, that is. You’d think that since I’m an artist living in Providence, RI, which is only three hours away from NYC, I’d get there frequently to be immersed in art + culture. Alas, ’tis not the case. So, the first big thing on my list was to walk The High Line. (Other things, like getting to the MoMA, or the Whitney, or the Balthus exhibit at the Met, just didn’t happen.)

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Railroad tracks & birches& winterberry

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For a wonderfully written and creatively comprehensive overview of the High Line, go see Michelle Aldredge’s blog post  from her extraordinary art blog, Gwarlingo. It’s where I first heard about the High Line project. Here you’ll find dozens of Michelle’s  stunning photos, along with lots of historical reference photographs, and you’ll learn all about this phenomenal project. Just reading about the High Line can make you want to get involved, even if you don’t live in New York.

libertyyou can’t see it, but the Statue of Liberty is right out there…

Just think– this is what can happen when a few highly creative, driven activists with vision and a lot of hutzpah get together to make something happen. And millions of people, not to mention all of New York, benefit from the beauty of this project. Since I read Michelle’s High Line piece over two years ago, I’ve wanted to get to the city to walk the High Line and revel in experiencing this incredible park, which is perhaps the most beautiful urban success story ever.

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Incredible white wall, windows included

Quite the bright mural, 23rd Street, ( I think.) 

To learn more about the High Line, including its public programs and art installations, visit the High Line website.

Walking from my daughter’s tiny Lower East Side apartment up to the meat packing district to get onto the High Line, we went through Washington Square Park and were lucky enough to catch some Chopin and Debussy from the crazy piano man. Astonishing, really. Talk about commitment and creative drive, and sharing one’s passion and talent. People get to hear this guy every weekend in the park, as long as it’s not raining.

Remarkable classical pianist, Colin Huggins

The one gallery I was able to get to was Rooster, to check out Providence artist Max Van Pelt’s  solo show: an intriguing and exuberant wire, wood, string, and odd-bits-of-things installation, along with his delicate and curious counterpoised wire sculptures and works on paper. Wonderful and beguiling.

Max Van Pelt’s installation at Rooster

My all-too-brief NYC visit was all about walking (and eating), and we walked over to Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge in the rain on Sunday afternoon.  I can’t wait to get back to NY and walk the High Line in the spring, and/or summer (the plantings are incredible) and get to all the other places I just HAVE to go. (Of course, that would take more than one lifetime….no more excuses!)

#7. Launching on the new moon

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“Bald Porcupine at Dusk”  12×12, mixed media on board. © 2103 Karen Rand Anderson

As the old phrase goes…  “Let ‘er rip” . So, it’s January 1st, 2014, which happens to coincide with the Capricorn new moon, an excellent time for beginning something that is crafted from an internal, thoughtful place. You know that feeling of starting a new painting/project/piece–  making the commitment to do, begin, create with passion; having the gumption (love that word) to go for it..? I’ve made a 2014 commitment to myself to confront my fears, my past, and my future; hence, the launch of this blog, “Cleaning Up the Studio“. Welcome… I’m glad you’re here. (I’m glad I’m here!) I hope you’ll scroll down and see my previous posts… this blog has been private until today, coinciding with the new moon which, I’ve just discovered, is considered a “supermoon”. Quite cool actually.

Now that the solstice has passed, winter’s darkness is beginning to lessen, day by day. (Thank God.) I’ll be wrapping myself up in studio work, getting ready for my upcoming show at Alexey von Schlippe Gallery in April. I’ll also be thinking about and planning what to focus on here— writing, wondering, questioning, and marveling, while continuing to be inspired by the words and insights of so many others [see sidebar]. Art, writing, and messes will get made, that is, until that tipping point is reached, when I can’t get anything done in the midst of the chaos, and it’ll be time to clean up the studio again, start afresh, and get new stuff going. I do love cycles.

In the meantime, I’m stumbling around as a complete newbie in the art blogosphere. So please forgive the bumbles and faux-pas as I get going with content, comments, and concepts. By putting myself out “here”, I plan to share my art and studio thoughts, make connections, get exposure, interact with other artists and bloggers, shed light on things, sprinkle inspiration, and pose questions. I’ll be posting images of my work, which is available for purchase… Let me know if you’re interested.

And by all means, please let me know what you think — I’m looking for my tribe. Join me?

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