While I was in the studio looking for color inspirations to photograph for my last blog post, I found myself
looking through being mesmerized by my stash of collage papers.
Since painting has been my main focus for the past two months, I haven’t done any new collages. I think that is going to change very soon, because there is just something so rewarding and pleasurable about collage. And, come to think of it, I have prepared a whole stack of papers especially for dry adhesion using a tacking iron, as taught by Jonathan Talbot in his workshops and in his book Collage – A New Appoach. It’s been a long time since I attended one of his workshops, and at the time I told myself I wanted to do that technique. I only recently got around to prepping some papers.
But before I hauled out the paints and brushes a few weeks ago, I did a few new collages. Here are some of them. Time to get back to them. (These collages were done the old-fashioned way — with wet glue.)
You can look for these and more in my Etsy shop.
You may already have your own signature color palette worked out, but sometimes it’s fun to go back to basics and think about new ways of using colors in your work. For several years, I used nothing but straight-out-of-the-tube colors, no mixing on the palette, and if any mixing was done, I made it a visual mix right on the canvas. A few years later, texture entered into my work, and that became as important to me as my choice of colors. At some point I found myself painting in earth colors only. At about the same time that I was getting more into texture, I wanted my color combinations to be unexpected or unusal, and definitely non-standard.
But recently I came across a video by Bob Burridge, who is so much fun to watch, and in it he demonstrates his Goof Proof Color Wheel, which automatically selects for you a specific foolproof color formula that works for any painting. His colors are always joyous, clean, and bright. Before I continue, just feel free to go ahead and watch his explanation. I think you’ll enjoy it. Then after his video, I want to say a few words about how I sometimes like to pick my colors.
My own color choices are more instinctive and sometimes seemingly random. What excites me most is seeing colors next to each other that you might not expect to see in nature. Therefore, I’m always looking around the studio for clues to new and fun possibilities. I don’t like to throw away my blotters, squeegees, freezer paper table covers, and disposable paint palettes (usually a plastic picnic plate) until I’ve checked them over for color combinations that I might incorporate into the next painting.
Like the colors on these old mat board squeegees:
These paintings were influenced by similar color combinations:
. . . and then these crops of a freezer paper table cover:
Giving rise to more paintings:
And finaly, there are these paint palettes, which I absolutely love. These weren’t my palettes — just ones that a neighbor kid was using, and I kept them.
I see paintings in my future.
Time spent in the studio has been productive over the past couple of weeks. It’s been nice exploring the paints again, indulging myself in straight out-of-the-tube colors. For some reason, right now it doesn’t feel like the time to be timid or subtle.
It’s true that just showing up for work eventually gets some momentum going, as trite as that sounds. Why does it take so long to re-learn that? We don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike us in order to just begin at the beginning. But I’m finding out something else about just being in the studio, with the materials all laid out, the lighting just right, and the music playing. The more time I spend doing my work, the more I begin to look forward to the experience. I don’t think it’s as much about the results as it is about just being in one’s own space, surrounded by the things that provide inspiration. The work builds on itself. Soon a time comes when I wake up in the morning thinking about a work in progress — sometimes after dreaming about it — and how I might resolve it. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting close.
This new one is titled “Awake.”
The one on my easel at the moment is 24 x 48 inches. Right now it’s just colors, but before long it will tell me what it wants to be, or where it wants to go from here. I think it’s almost finished. In the spirit of exuberant color, the only tweak I would possibly make is to intensify the contrasts a little bit more. We’ll see.
Last week I attended the opening of a show of fabric-based mixed media works by Herb Rieth at the Tennessee Valley Art Museum. A friend and I had it on our calendars at least a couple of weeks beforehand to meet there. The press release and a few photographs had given hints that this would not be your grandmother’s quilt show.
The artist was engaging and funny, just like portions of his works and some of the stories behind them. They combine slices of his life story with historical references, presented in colorful arrangements of a variety of fabrics, clothing infused with personal memories, painting and drawing, Zen-like and meticulous stitching, and embellished with such mundane objects as safety pins, beer tabs, house keys, and spikes, together elevated to become parts of rich tapestries of life experiences. Rieth compares his process to painting, as he works with the components, rearranging them until the composition feels right, sewing the parts together, then painting and embellishing to build a satisfying and cohesive statement.
Seeing this show and listening to the artist bring the pieces to life, I was reminded again how deeply the tradition of story is interwoven in the Southern experience. Herb Rieth is carrying on this fine tradition in a delicious mix of personal stories and universal truths.
This slideshow provides a sampling of the works in the show.
Reith earned his B.A. degree from Indiana University and M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati. He taught painting, drawing and design at the University of Alabama, Mississippi State University and Ohio Northern University and is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville.
Rieth’s work has been shown at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center’s UnMuseum, the Mississippi Museum of Art and solo and group shows in 23 states.
The show is open through March 10, 2017.
The original title of this post “A Work in Progress” was perhaps a little bit misleading, because I do think this painting is finished. I don’t have a title yet, because I just stopped work on it late this afternoon. It’s acrylic on canvas, 30×40 inches.
Every painting teaches me something new. It’s been so good to be back in the studio. Still trying to decide on what this new direction is. It’s a thread that I’ve picked up from the road not taken about ten years ago. So may roads not taken, so little time.
Oh, there’s my title. The Road Not Taken.