Over the last month I've had the honour of making art with students at a primary school. They are creating a Legacy Project in which every student paints a rock with a word or symbol of something that they would like to be remembered by. The rocks will then be permanently installed outdoors on the school grounds.
I brought in some canvas pieces as well. This way each student creates two things: the painted rock becomes part of their permanent Legacy at the school, and the painting on canvas is theirs to keep.
Some of the students have not painted on rocks, or on canvas, before this. It's been great fun introducing them to transparent and opaque painting techniques, and talking about what sort of legacy they want to leave at the school.
I wish I'd remembered to take photos of all the classes' work! But I get very involved with the kids and their art, and I forget about these details... ah well, I got a few good ones :)
Below are some of my favourites from the Grade 1 classes:
The wonderful thing about working with kids is that they have no fear, for the most part, about making art. It's very energizing to be immersed in that kind of creative environment.
In the words of a certain well-known song: "Life is but a dream". Yup. And I'm feeling very happily lucky to row this boat. :)
Dismantled my string drawings on the weekend, made a few very low-tech videos before they came down. Here's one:
My friend Berna-Dean brought her red guitar and did some beautiful finger-picking, which unfortunately my little camera did not pick up on very well. If you'd like to hear some well-produced versions of her lovely voice and music, click here.
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about the end of this exhibition.
Although in art school I always maintained that the drawings I made with a stick in the sand were of a highest quality precisely because they did not last, still I wound up spending the first part of my professional art practice focussed on making paintings that will, with a bit of luck, last well beyond my own lifetime.
I still enjoy that process of longevity... although of course any physical thing disappears given enough time. But my human perception of time is limited, and so I also very much enjoy the feeling of having created something perceptibly ephemeral, something that will never again exist in quite the same way during my lifetime.
And now back to my painting studio, where as-yet-unfinished work awaits completion and the illusion of permanence.
Unsure whether a painting is finished? Just leave it for the time being.
I began this year by working some of the oil studies from last summer. When I was feeling unsure about any of them, I said, "good enough" and moved on to the next one.
Finishings: Augury studies, oil on canvas
Then I pulled out some of the paintings which I began last January. A whole year has passed since I was able to focus on this body of work. What a great feeling to get into them again! I'm calling these finished.... for now.
"All That Piano" oil on canvas 17x18.5"
"Downstreet" oil on canvas 17x18.5"
"Forms of Composite Composure" oil on canvas 17x18.5"
Leavings: a few of the "Augury" paintings in my studio
Yesterday I was able to spend almost 8 hours in my studio without interruption. What luxury! Making studio time a priority this year was a good decision, and I feel so very fortunate that I'm able to do this.
I hope your year is off to a good start too, dear Reader.
In the last few years it seems I have begun a lot of work but not finished very much. I've been following a winding path, keeping more-or-less to the same direction while exploring a lot of side roads.
Now, from a vantage point further down the path, I look back at my unfinished explorations and decide to revisit some of them.
The little studies above, for example. I began 11 such studies last summer, and set them aside after just 2-3 paint layers. Digging them out now and working them over is very satisfying.
When I worked on Tension : No Tension at the turn of the year, I did not think I was finished with it yet. But a few very articulate visitors over the last week have mentioned how complete it feels to them now, and this has given me pause.
So, I begin this year in the studio, with an eye to bringing some past work full circle. Feels about right.
Tension : No Tension has been up at Artpoint Gallery for just over a month now. My intention was to create an initial installation, and then spend some time re-imagining it over the two months that it's in the gallery.
Here's a link to my website showing images of the first string drawings made during December 2017.
Below, a couple of videos of the work:
hanging out in the corner
shadows on a curved wall
The very first string drawing. It has now been removed...
... and replaced with another.
This is most recent string drawing, made on New Year's eve.
For many years I kept a ritual of making art over the turn of the year. I did this out of fear that I would not be able to continue making art in my life; my thinking was to make art the last and first thing I did every year, as a way of staying on track.
This year, I felt the need to revisit my old ritual. 2017 was intense, with more projects and exhibitions than I've ever had in one year, plus quite a lot of teaching. Not a bad life! But in the back of my mind a growing feeling of being a tad unmoored by it all, of not spending enough time in contemplation and creation.
I'm not sure what 2018 will hold, but I would like to spend more time in my studio. Revisiting my New Year's eve ritual may help to keep me focused on that.
Happy 2018 to you, dear Reader. I think it's gonna be a good one. :)
I find it's a little nerve-wracking, you know, to have an exhibition for which there is no clearly defined plan. It's a case of going into the space and seeing what I can make in a week...
... a week during which I'll also be teaching an art class, working a shift at the store, meeting with the printer about a new catalogue for the next G9 exhibition.
How I wish I could have the whole week uninterrupted! No classes, no meetings, no customers! Visions of getting into a meditative contemplative relaxed place from which to create this installation, this murkily perfect form in my head; to create something magnificent.
But, no. There is always life which never stands still. And perhaps that's a good thing... compressed moments of contemplative imagination are more precious and so more keenly appreciated, and this gives the art - and the life - its power.
As they say: " Join the club." It's a pretty good club, all things considered.