Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Artist's Statement

Finally I have found the words.  Here is my artist's statement.  

Artist Statement

I paint because I am in love with the creative process.   The final product may indeed teach me something about myself, about how I view the world, or about what I care deeply about, and as such each painting stands as a statement intended for me, and, I hope, one that will resonate with others.  But the great satisfaction, the great fascination for me, is the “getting there,” going from a blank canvas to the finished product.  Although I am always present in the doing, I am still surprised by the way a painting ends.  

I especially like the experience of starting with just a few things—three tubes of paint and a thought or some music for inspiration—and seeing what can come of it.  I put paint down and lift it off, I scrape, I carve text into it, I spray it with water and rubbing alcohol, add more paint, I make marks with my fingers, with paper towels and with just about anything interesting I can get my hands on.  In other words, I get into the painting.  This is my “start” and from the chaos that results I “find” the painting by adding layers and by lifting layers, by adding lines and by subtracting lines.  It is this repetitive, intuitive, give-and-take process that thrills me, in part because it is so much fun and in part because ultimately it results in a painting.   I know that a work is done when I realize that if I add or subtract one more thing it will be the start of a new painting.  That’s when I sign it.

Various themes and imagery tend to run throughout my work: the theatre, dance, spirituality, and family.  My 12 years of parochial school education, my background in dance, my studies of the theatre and my career as a theatre teacher, my practice of Cosmos Qigong, and my deep love for my family all inform that imagery.  I paint to explore and to celebrate these things that matter to me.  It is my hope that I paint them in a way that reminds the viewers of something that matters deeply to them. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chi Filled, The Flowers Re-Turn

When this painting began to appear on the paper, I must admit that I had some resistance to it.  I had pretty much abandoned painting flowers two years ago, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the flowers abandoned me.   So I was surprised a few months ago when all I could see emerging in the initial abstract start of a painting was flowers - big bold colorful flowers. Did I dare pursue it?  And if I did decide to “go there”  how would my current painting habits and my past topic mix?  Would it be possible to incorporate text into my painting?   Could I make symbols?   Would I be able to justify a re-turn to flowers?   Well, why not try it and find out. 
            I had a great time painting this.  And after a few sessions I stopped working on it and waited about a month or so before finally deciding to sign it.  You know, painting with acrylics on paper opens the way to many layers of paint and endless revisions.  When to stop can become problematic.  Making an adjustment often leads to another and another and another ad infinitum until you end up with a totally different painting.  So it was a great moment for me when I was able to acknowledge that I liked this painting just as it was and that I needed to seal the deal by signing it. 
When it came time to give this painting a title, I thought about the ways this floral was different from those I had done before.  The flowers, though completely imaginary, seem far more robust than any that have appeared in my earlier paintings.   I like to think that, like me with my 3 yrs of Chi Kung practice, “These flowers have been fertilized with Chi!”
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a series of new florals.  We’ll see how things develop! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Hello out there! Carp Paints has been a sparse blog, has it not? Two posts followed by silence for 26 months. How do I get back in your good graces after such a long absence?
I found the beginnings of my last blog attempt and I thought I’d start by reflecting on that which I wrote two years ago.
My art is constantly surprising me. I used to think that I was starting all over again when I started painting, but since I've started painting with acrylics (and doing Cosmos Chi Kung) I'm feeling like it is not a new beginning but rather a real continuation of the same journey, focusing on the same underlying questions about knowing... how do I know... how do I interpret the world I inhabit... how do I create meaning. I don't really think of these things before I paint, but after. I look at the painting and then say "Oh! Really!" Interestingly enough I have this one painting that I am fascinated with. It started with my thinking about the scene in Romeo and Juliet the morning after they have their only night together... he hears the lark and she argues that it's the nightingale... I wrote those lines into the painting. Well, as the painting evolved it seemed to resist me-- sort of had a mind of its own if you can imagine that. - Jan 23 2009
At first glance I’d say that the underlying threads in my reflections on the creative process have not changed much. I’m still fascinated and astonished by the process, still looking at the connections between what I do now (paint) and what I did before (theatre). I’m beginning to understand that the creative process is essentially the same whether I’m directing a play, inventing a lesson plan on how to approach one of Shakespeare’s plays, writing fiction, or painting with acrylic on paper. Happily, this painting, “The Nightingale…The Lark” seems to be an appropriate painting for my re-turn to the blogosphere. The painting was -- at one stage in the process -- a literal depiction of Romeo and Juliet, with Romeo looking out at the landscape and Juliet at his feet pleading with him to stay. It wasn’t working… at least, Juliet wasn’t working-- so I decided to take her out altogether with isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel. It was only then that the standing figure on the right began to emerge. I thought about the implications of this new figure and how it affects the meaning of the other figure staring out at the landscape. I think it lifts the painting out of the specifics of the play and moves it in the direction of the allegorical.
And so, here I stand, awake and ready to walk into the blogosphere again, sharing my questions about the creative process and what it is like for me to be in it.
"The Nightingale... The Lark" was on exhibit in the 2010 Thomas Center Galleries Regional Juried Exhibition, July 17 - September 13, 2010.  For more information click here.