#26. It’s (Almost) Showtime….

 

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Can you spell  P R O C R A S T I N A T E ?

Procrastination. It’s one of those constant challenges that lurk under my bed, along with the ever-present impostor syndrome that I struggle with. (I started writing this blog to fight this stuff.) I know myself well enough to know that if it weren’t for deadlines, I might not get anything big accomplished. Which is why I feel so fortunate to have them, big fat deadlines. The current one looming  (which I’ve had on the calendar for the past couple of years) is Friday, April 25th, the date of my exhibition opening at Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art.

Actually, the real deadline is on Tuesday, the 22nd. That’s when I deliver the work to the gallery, which is about an hour away. I’ve already reserved the UHaul van, and yesterday most of the paintings got wrapped up and taped, in heavy plastic sheeting. Still need to put wires on about 11 paintings… So far it looks like 30 paintings will be installed, from big (53×65”) to small (10×10”), although if I have it together, one more little painting will be finished by Tuesday.

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a bunch of paintings about to be wrapped (typical studio, although usually they are not scattered all over the floor)

I’d love to hear from you about how you work with deadlines and establish goals. And if you happen to be anywhere near Groton CT before June 7, maybe make a side trip to the AvS gallery, and check out my show there… it’s an amazing place to visit, a huge stone mansion, with a gorgeous sculpture path along the water (slideshow— you can advance the images manually) and beautiful grounds and ocean views. Worth a trip…Image

P.S. The gallery has four rooms, and there are three other artists showing in the other rooms. Here is the link to preview the show.

#24. Abstraction is in the details (or: painting pieces of paintings)

Painting a piece of a painting…? I’ve played with this idea in the past (not very successfully)– to isolate a small section of a painting, and reference it to make a large painting. If only I could magnify the immediacy and verve that live in those sexy little sections that were produced through spontaneity and intuitive mark-making, and create BIG paintings echoing those same qualities. Sounds easy. Ha.

So my last post showed the large piece I recently finished— “New Territory”.

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“New Territory. 53×65”. mixed media on Fabriano paper. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

What I didn’t say about it  is that it’s actually referenced from a very small detail from another painting, “Shadow Walk”, 36×36”, mixed media on wood panel. See the loose reference? This detail is about 4×6″. (I left out the dead tree in the 53×65″painting.)

Imagedetail, “Shadow Walk”

Here’s the quick journal sketch: Image

 And here’s the original painting:

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Shadow Walk, 36×36″. mixed media on wood panel. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

I still like the detail best.

 Abstract expressionist Franz Kline  was able to maintain that freshness from small sketches to gargantuan canvases.  He loved the quality of the mark-making in his small quick brush sketches, and in 1948 when his buddy Willem de Kooning turned him on to the Bell-Opticon opaque projector, he discovered he could project those small energetic strokes as enlarged abstract gestures. He grabbed a big brush, some black house paint, and used the projected images as templates for some very big paintings, which became huge calligraphic statements on the canvas.

ImageFranz Kline in studio, 1954.  Fritz Goro photo.

When Kline first projected one of his small ink sketches onto the wall, this is what he described:

“A four by five inch black drawing of a rocking chair…loomed in gigantic black strokes which eradicated any image, the strokes expanding as entities in themselves, unrelated to any entity but that of their own existence.”

Sounds like abstract expressionism in a nutshell.

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Franz Kline (American, 1910-1962). Untitled II, ca. 1952. Ink and oil on cut-and-pasted telephone-book pages on paper on board. 11 x 9 in. (28.1 x 23 cm). © 2010 The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 Here’s a short, jazzy little video from the MoMA about Kline’s painting process. 

Keep in mind that the bigger you go, the more you spend— time, materials, energy. Bigger brushes=expensive; bigger canvas or panel= way expensive; more paint (oil or acrylic) = way, way more expensive.  Klein used black enamel house paint because he could get it inexpensively, and loved the workability of it. [Oh well, I’m a coloroholic, I’ll  admit it. Also I use water-based materials. No more toxic stuff in my studio] So, big for me is say, 60 or 70″. Big for Kline was, well, REALLY big.

While Kline sometimes used a projector to magnify his images, I take small digital detail pics with my iPhone and then make awkward sketches of them in my art journal before attempting to translate the image into a larger scale. I wonder. Should I find a projector?

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detail, from “Vermont Reflections” On it’s way to becoming a big painting…. maybe.

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“Vermont Reflections” 24×24″. mixed media on canvas. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

#22. Look/see: The art of Sumo Bunni (and family)

#22. Look/see: The art of Sumo Bunni (and family)

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“Alter Ego 1″ 48×36”. acrylic on canvas, 2013.

What is is about the cuteness (or weirdness) of bunnies? According to painter Shari Weschler Rubeck  (aka Sumo Bunni)—“In 2011, the Bunni became my story teller and continues to do so.  He or She is in a mood, communicating a specific experience.  [The Bunnies] are metaphorical messengers who relate to us easily.  They beg for us to look at ourselves and perhaps find humor in the serious.”

bunni in waiting

“Bunni in Waiting” 48×36″ acrylic/airbrush on canvas. 2011

robot swimmer

“Robot Swimmer” 10×8″ watercolor/graphite on Yupo paper. 2012

When I first saw the strange and magical work of Shari and her sculptor husband Christian Rubeck, at Gallery Z in Providence RI, I did a double-take, slowly perusing all the work at least twice over. The room spun with bizarre and wonderful imagery, peppered with off-beat humor. It took me a while to figure out that the pseudonym Sumo Bunni was actually the artist Shari (thank you, Facebook) and now I get it.

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“Hide” 22×16″. watercolor/graphite on paper. 2012

"Long Hare" 40x30" acrylic on canvas. 2011

“Long Hare” 40×30″ acrylic on canvas. 2011

Shari’s massive body of work is comprised of several recent series which relate to one another in, well, odd ways. Best to put it in her words: “Life experiences, human psyche, curiosities of animal nature, elements of theatre, dance, backstage goings-on and pun drive my imagery.  Working in series that often materialize simultaneously, my imagery is primarily figural in nature.” She has a background as a dancer, which is apparent in the imagery and narrative in her work, and a BFA in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art. 

"Ram Head" 64x46" acrylic on board. 2012

“Ram Head” 64×46″ acrylic on board. 2012

There were so many of Shari’s paintings and drawings I wanted to post here, it was tough to pare it down to just 8. Or 10 or 12. But to see lots more and and figure out the Sumo Bunni mystery for yourself, visit Shari and Christian’s website, ArtInMind.org (FYI- Along with some other venues, Shari has a show coming up this year at Chez Pascal,  one of Providence East Side’s BEST restaurants.)

"Sharp Intrusion" 43x28" acrylic on canvas. 2013

“Sharp Intrusion” 43×28″ acrylic on canvas. 2013

"Rabbit Robot" 10x8". watercolor/graphite on paper. 2012

“Rabbit Robot” 10×8″. watercolor/graphite on paper. 2012

"Power Trip" 20x14". watercolor/graphite on Yupo paper. 2013

“Power Trip” 20×14″. watercolor/graphite on Yupo paper. 2013

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Weschler/Rubeck show at Gallery Z, showing some of Christian’s sculpture and Shari’s paintings, 2012

sculpture by Christian Rubeck

sculpture by Christian Rubeck

p.s. Shari and Christian have two awesome artist offspring, Skyla, 11 and Desi, 9. (It’s a family art affair, and they recently had a show titled “The Rubeck Four” at Coastal Living Gallery in the quaint village of Wickford, RI.)

Desi Rubeck, "Goose Eye"

Desi Rubeck, “Goose Eye”

Skyla Rubeck, "Bluebirds" and "Wooden Dog".

Skyla Rubeck, “Bluebirds” and “Wooden Dog“.

All images © copyright protected by Shari Weschler Rubeck, 2014

# 9. New territory

summer house sketch.72

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?”

summerprocess.72

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 .)

summer in process.72

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