Winter. I’m slowly exploring my natural eb and flow in art making. I get frustrated about the lacklustre light in my studio and feel totally unable to see what color I’m mixing. I do have a special daylight light system, but blah, it’s not at all the same as getting up in the morning with a clear sky and natural light present and waiting for me and my clean brushes. I find myself reading a lot, pondering on how to finish paintings I started during a Zoey Frank course, juggling new ideas in my mind, thinking about new painting approaches for me while looking and listening to other artists talking about theirs. For instance it can be a formal approach, a challenge to do a painting that answers a certain formal, maybe compositional question, like ‘can I make a painting where the viewer’s eye can freely travel around the surface of the painting?’ Or, ‘can I do a high chroma painting and how would I create space?’ And all the while always dialoging with art history. Or more conceptually, cerebral perhaps, paint about sociologically inspired stuff, the what versus how to make the painting.
In winter I guess I’ll wait for my seeds to come up in spring and then I’ll say, like Matt Damon in The Marsman, when a potato shoot springs, he cups the tiny leafs in his hand and says ‘Hi there,’ to it. The challenge is how can I be patient and trust the process. I actually tend to use a lot of my own ‘sh*t’ too, metaphorically that is.
Anyway. Last month I got some books from the second hand bookstore on art history, Taschen’s 'Women Artists in the 20th and 21st century', 2002, Whitney Chadwick’s 'Women, Art and Society', the 1990 ed. Thames and Hudson (I had an issue with it, but can’t remember where now), Germaine Greer’s 'The Obstacle Course, The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work', Farrar Straus Giroux, NY, 1979 and ordered a copy of ‘Mix and Stir, New Outlooks on Contemporary Art from global Perspectives', edited by Kitty Zijlmans and Helen Westgeest, Plural Series Valiz, Amsterdam, 2021. I started with Kitty Zijlmans’ book Kunstgeschiedenis (Art History) from the Elementaire Deeltjes series (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) I took out at the library. Insanely interesting it hints at alternatives to study art beyond national constraints and cultural dominances and hierarchies and how to braden the approach of art to its global dimensions, as opposed to the Eurocentric approach that ran galore in my schooling. And white, patriarchal and capitalist I might add. In her book, she refers to US art historian James Elkins who had the most wonderful course of short video’s on Youtube “Concepts and Problems in Visual Art.” *Look up his channel ‘James Elkins’. In lecture H2 How does Art History appear to you?, he invites his students to do an intuitive drawing of art history. Do a drawing of everything you think about in art, arranged in the way you feel about the topics or items you include. WOW?! What an eye opener! I wish I had a professor like that in my art classes. But I’m not complaining, I’ll do a drawing myself here and plant another seedling. I'll use my fave painter's fav painting: Velázquez' 'Las Meninas' and organise my stuff around it.
Collage writing, that’s what this looks like, as my eye goes around and adds stuff in my sketch of art history, memories float up and then my mind jumps onto something else I want to add. Or is that just how the mind works, is that the way we tell the story of our life to ourselves? Mind you there are infinite variations on the elements I added. And maybe there’s no ONE painting that could come out of this. A puzzle technique. Weaving together. Now I’m thinking of Lidia Yuknavitch's book 'Thrust', I still didn’t finish and that addresses just that.