my kind of art

i was talking to jim on our dog walk yesterday evening.  we were discussing all the art materials i’m taking with me to my residency in ireland.  i mean, everything except sculpture.

if i feel like doing a watercolor, or an oil painting, or pastel, or encaustic, or even acrylic, it’s all there in my bag.  if i feel like dyeing fabric or doing a silk painting, it’s all there.  i’ve even got enough fabric to start a quilt if i feel like it.  i’ve even packed an embroidery hoop.  remember the last time you did embroidery?  me neither.

so why am i bringing all these gobs of art materials when i only have three weeks in which to use them?

it’s not like i’m normally obsessive compulsive about my art supplies.  i’m actually rather lazy and dilatory, but here i am packing absolutely all the art supplies i own.

it’s just that i’m not sure what im going to be working with, and i’m just trying to make sure i have everything.  i don’t know in advance if i’m going to want to do any watercolors (except i already have a request for them), i’m not sure how much time i have to finish oil paintings and let them dry, i don’t think my wax will last past two or three encaustic paintings.  and i’m not sure what dyeing and painting i will feel like accomplishing.  i’m going to have to be flexible with my materials if i don’t want to run out.

it may be that i find that wax is the best medium to use with the changing weather.  it may turn out that only fabric painting and dyeing is of interest.  i won’t know until i get there.

if i were one type of artist, the variety of my art materials wouldn’t matter so much because i had something to say.  but i’m a process artist, and to me it makes all the difference.

what’s a process artist?  it’s someone more interested in the process of making art than in the end result.

i often wish i had something pretentious to say with my art, a statement, a vision i was trying to convey.  jim’s work all has statements implicit in the way the figures look out at you, and his choice of figure has lots of meaning, very symbolic.  like this one from his latest show:

venetian procession

but i don’t have anything to say.  what i have to say, i write.  i did some ‘real’ art once.  breast cancer paintings.  they were incredibly ugly and tasteless, and i’ve never shown them.  again, it was the process that intrigued me, the bringing out of myself meaningful statements about having cancer, the seeing how well i could execute a vision in my head (not that well, but surprisingly satisfying).

my interest in materials may be that of a child, but i love the process of making art.  i love sorting thru reference photos, i love the drawing, i love mixing paints and applying them.  i love building a painting, all the millions of layers executed like battlefield maneuvers.  i love pigments.  i love wax.  i love the smell of turpentine and orange oil and linseed and beeswax.

ak.  i’m up to 60 pounds with only a few panels and some more junk to take out.  i’ve gotten out the biggest carryon bag i can find for some of the overflow, and i’ll be repacking, again.

i’m still loading up albums to my sister’s ipod so i can listen to lots of music when i’m there.

and now it seems i have to take my floodlight grow-light with me, and i’m not at all sure they’ll let me carry it on board.  a lightbulb.  who knows, maybe it’s considered dangerous.  the airline doesn’t know.  the tsa takes your name and phone number before answering questions, but they said that a light bulb, even a floodlight bulb, was okay to take in my carryon.  and i had the feeling a flag went up and they’ll be checking extra carefully when i go thru the system.  i get the feeling i never should have asked.  they’ll probably confiscate my whole bag.  how will i make art without art supplies?

that’s an interesting question.  when jim and i taught art over at the local ghetto high school (volunteers because the real teacher had had enough), we taught the kids how to make paint from ground bricks and charred wood.  so i could do it myself.  a basic set of dry pigments, some binders (gum arabic, beeswax, chalk and linseed oil), a solvent, paper and canvas, some brushes.  i’d be good with that.  a hundred bucks.  i could borrow stuff from my friend diarmuid.  i’d make do.

today i managed to get a little work done.  the baby was a big disruption, but he went to his daddy’s in the afternoon and i turned my attention to coating out a few of my new luan panels with acrylic, stretching and inking in resist lines on the fairy scarf to start painting tomorrow, and putting cuffs on my artist smock that i’ve been making for over a year now…

it’s good to be getting all this stuff done.  there’s nothing like a deadline to organize my ambitions.

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