I recently took a weekend-long acrylic workshop with artist Lori Lukasewich. She is an excellent artist who has explored many interesting ideas in her work, and we have shown at the same gallery for a few years but I've only talked with her briefly a couple of times before now. It was great to get to know her better this weekend.
It was a kind of beginner's workshop, seeming theoretically beneath my level - but in reality nothing is "beneath my level". One can learn a lot from any experience by keeping an open mind, and I really needed to get back to some basics. Being with other artists all learning something new together was very invigorating!
|acrylic paint and paper collage |
on gesso'd watercolour paper
Lori is a wonderful teacher and facilitator, very knowledgeable about art materials. She demonstrated various acrylic processes and techniques and then we all had fun experimenting, sometimes pushing things too far and making a mess of our work, haha! At which point Lori reminded us that pushing things too far is a vital step in the process of art-making: if you never push it too far, how will you know when to stop? How will you go beyond making work that is safe and uninspired? This is a very good point. By pushing our boundaries and NOT playing it safe, at the end of the workshop each of us had made at least one piece that we were proud of, and a we all took away a lot of ideas and inspiration.
|acrylic paint, stencils, lace pieces|
on gesso'd watercolour paper
I have definitely been feeling constrained and uninspired in the studio lately - in a word, safe. Having committed to producing yet more urban paintings, I find I've tied myself up!
One thing I really appreciated about Lori's workshop was when she talked about some of her early experiences as an artist, when she made intensely detailed paintings. These paintings are very beautiful and accomplished, but eventually she cracked up over them, and this led to a deeper understanding of herself and her own creative process.
Well I've been feeling bit cracked-up lately, my stitched urban paintings feeling tedious rather than joyful. And really, what is the point of working that way? I believe we are on this earth in order to experience joy, but sometimes we get lost.
|acrylic paint and paper collage|
on cradled wood panel
Well then. Starting this week I've just been painting what I like without pressuring myself for results. To be sure, the promised urban paintings will be finished on time - but that time is not right now. And lo and behold, by letting go of that pressure I've made some work I'm really pleased with! Go figure huh.
The one at top left in the photo above was made during the workshop, my one beautiful piece that I am proud of. It was an abstract painting that I'd begun but didn't know how to realize. Lori taught me some techniques for paper collage, which I used on that unfinished painting to very good effect. Then I went home and did some more collaging over some more half-finished abstract paintings. Whee! Feeling very good energy working this way.
Besides renewing my creative freedom by taking Lori's workshop, I've been exploring the possibilities of stitched paper work.
I'm quite excited about these little pieces. They are kind of a melding of my previous abstract works and the album cover I made for the UAS fundraiser. Life in the studio feels good again. What fun!