30 October 2013

learning things

painting with mixed media

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!

painting with mixed media
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.

mixed media painting
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 painting
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.  

collage painting

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.

paper works
first stitching

painting on paper
then painting
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!

abstract paintings


Sweetpea said...

I've followed a few clicks and have ended up over here .. thank you for the link & very happy to know the poem has resonated elsewhere. Am responding to your stitched pieces myself ...

Verna Vogel said...

Thank you Sweetpea. I enjoy your blog, and always love to discover new-to-me poetry. Your recent photo looks like it was taken from the deck of a BC ferry...

Lori Lukasewich said...

Wow - thanks so much for your kind words Verna! you were a delight and definitely raised the bar for the other participants. It was a really fun weekend. And I'm looking forward to seeing how it impacts your work. and its si nice to get to know you better.edsPhly

P.D. Crumbaker said...

I love these new directions. I've been exploring more with stitch recently. I like the meditative quality of it and the portability of it, as well. The poem link was much appreciated at this particular moment when chaos knocks at the door.

Verna Vogel said...

You are most welcome, Lori! Thank you for having me in your workshop, it was a lot of fun. I'm also looking forward to seeing how the experience impacts my work further.

And thank you, P.D. I didn't know you worked in stitches (heh) - I only know your writing blog, which I find very inspiring and uplifting.

We are all of us, all we humans, on a kind of mutual path, hey.... gradually I am learning that there are more similarities than differences between us.