Sunday, September 14, 2008

If you want to stick around, grab a cup of coffee, I'm a rambling...

"The Last Roost"
Acrylic on board, 8"x8"

More about the painting from the last post as per Andrea's request. Forgive me, this might get a little dull, I'll try to keep it short and simple. No that's not true actually, I'm just going to spew it all out no matter how long it takes.

Technique: At the moment I'm loving Golden's fluid acrylic, along with an acrylic glazing medium. The results aren't like an oil painting, even though I do use some of the traditional glazing techniques of oil. It's a little more like egg tempera, lots of transparent, quick drying layers rendered with tiny brushes.

As for meaning, is this not the part so many artists hate? We want our work to speak to the viewer on a gut level, on an emotional level and for them to come to their own conclusions. Yet I've discovered, when I can't clearly articulate what a piece is about, it's usually because it's only decorative (which is fine, if that's my soul intent) or I don't really care much about it.

This painting I do care about, and I've felt a series building for some time in which this one is included. I realized after observing and studying birds and now other animals this past year, I find it difficult to remove the human presence from any art I create about wildlife. There isn't a species or area of earth that hasn't been transformed or affected by human activity and I have an urge to explore that reality in some way.

Breaking down the elements-

1.) I tried to find some moths to photograph at night, but came up empty handed. Late the next night, while I was deep in concentration painting, a huge moth hit the window in front of me. I went outside with my camera, but found nothing. It happened again, I went out to the window, not there. I have to say it was a bit weird, like it was (ooooo) a ghost moth. No prophesies please, I know crows and moths have the same negative superstitions surrounding them (death), but hey, really they're just nighttime butterflies.

Failing to find my ghost moth, I decided to paint this moth from a compilation of found images. It's part of the Saturniidae family and this one was common in the part of Eastern Canada where I grew up. These moths are usually large. They have no mouths or digestive tracts so can't eat. Their soul purpose after they emerge is to mate and lay eggs. They live a week of less. Something to put on your list of daily gratitutes - I am thankful I am not a Saturniidae moth.

2.) I met the barn owl at the rodeo, of all places. The Vancouver Zoo has a Birds of Prey exhibit and presentation that includes this young owl. It's handler was extremely nice while I took lots of photos. It's a stunningly beautiful creature and I knew I wanted to include it in a painting at some point.

3.) As for the last element, the hand. I love hands. They're the hardest part of the human body to paint because of their complexity. They are responsible for so much of our non verbal communication. I love their gestural quality, I love that they can wordlessly convey emotion.

I believe, in any art piece, the analyzing really comes near the end of the process. I had this image in my head, I wanted to do it and then started thinking of the 'why' after. I think that's what creative output is all about, a compulsive need to express something that is the unconscious amalgamation of your experiences, what attracts you, repels you, fascinates you. We make better sense of it later.

If you've read this far, and I don't blame you if I've bored you to unconsciousness, I'd love to hear what drives you creatively, what it is you're needing to explore, themes, colours, ideas, materials.... anyone?

6 comments:

Caroline said...

If it makes more sense later do your ideas change even more later on?

I've had pictures that I've never found a meaning for in words but it has nevertheless had a strong emotional or even spiritual effect on me.

Kim Hambric said...

The analyzing comes near the end of the process.

I had a bit of an "aha" moment just now.

I'm gonna go and work and when I'm close to being done, I'm then going to figure out what it is I'm doing.

I've really had it backwards. Analysis, then process. Except the process wasn't coming.

Gonna try process then analysis. We'll see if that works.

andrea said...

Fascinating to *me* but then I'm a geek. Seriously, you got to the heart of the matter without rambling and esoteric nonsense. Surprisingly concrete for such metaphysical stuff. (And stop making me THINK.)

Ellen said...

Caroline:Interesting question, I'll have to think more about that. And yes, I believe that's the true reason we make, share and look at art, to get that strong emotional or spiritual reaction to it...to be moved and feel connected to something outside ourselves in some way by any art form (paintings, books, films...)

Kim: good luck. The balance is always a struggle for me.The analysis has to be there a bit to make sure the technical aspects of what you're doing match your desire, but too often for me, the analysis or maybe more accurately, judgment/criticism gets in the way before I complete things.It can hard to plow through the grunt work to get it done. I think that's why it's so important to really feel connected to what you want to create and why people who try to create to please a market or a trend feel burnout a lot sooner.

Andrea: Thanks, but not even close to what I wanted to say. Drives me crazy, this articulation business.

And I'm sure all you were really asking was, how big is the painting and what paint did you use.

Just posting the next one, not a thread of thinking required!

self taught artist said...

I finally had the concentration to read this. I still cannot believe you painted the hands, the moth. I can't believe it. I kept thinking it was collage.

and reading all of this was fascinating...the hows the moths, the goals...your perceptions about things. good post!

love that you had the image in your head and the whys are later.

what drives me creatively? unknown objects. what can be done with them. how do things work together physically and maintain a pure aesthetic. that kind of thing.

Ellen said...

Paula: nope, nope, nope, no collage. Not that I have any reservations about collage, I use it a lot,but only as texture or in a way that refers to the piece as something obviously applied, never attempting it as a stand in for an image.

Hey and thanks for answering my ending questions. Your art is so unique, I can see what drives you. Assemblage and found art is so interesting and relevant, I wish i had a talent for it.