Wednesday, December 21, 2011

late-night ramblings after a long day

Today I was possessed, as I have been for the past 4 days, by my driving desire to enter a 'new' work to the Fountain Street Fine Art's PAPER exhibit.  So even though it has been a long day, my heart and head are still spinning, and I felt that I might 'talk out' my thoughts here on my blog.  Today has brought up some fundamental questions that I feel many artists face now and then. 
the piece that I left @ FSFA

Fountain Street Fine Art is celebrating its first anniversary with a Paper Show (paper being the traditional first anniversary gift).  Besides wanting to be part of any show that this wonderful gallery puts on, James Welu, Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum, is the juror.  

I have known about this call for weeks and I had SOOOOO many ideas.  But, as is usually the way my creative life unfolds, other life needs kept me away from focusing on this call, until this weekend, which was a little late.  

I mean - what a wonderful call - PAPER, anything to do with paper - my head was exploding with ideas -  
"Media may include, but is not limited to paper, oil, pastel, acrylic, watercolor, collage, photography, video, ceramics, metal, fiber, glass, wood, and stone. '

~i wanted to create an interactive piece with my little dresstag dresses, pinning these dresses on a wall (each with a fortune) to create a dress and encourage the gallery visitors to take a dress/fortune.  

Ever since I started the Dress Project I wanted to set up a situation where participants would disassemble a dress.  I always wondered how would the dress 'decompose', would there be areas of the dress that people would not remove?!??  But alas, couldn't fold enough dresses construct a dress.

~I also started a small paper mache dress - on which I was going to 'collage' letters and images of internal organs.  

This dress was going to reflect how I have been feeling during my divorce process - exposed and raw.  The initial dress form turned out very successfully, a nicely defined figure, but I didn't have enough 'quiet' or reflective time to be able to take the next step.

~I fantasized about expanding on my Daily Dress collages.  I wanted to push the possibilities of working with paper - collage, sewing, burning, transfers, . . . 

~I also have been working on a series of works on subscriptions cards ~ yes those pesky cards that are always falling out when you are trying to curl up to read Oprah.  And last time I checked subscription cards are paper.

But as the due date approached and the days/hours/minutes ticked away I was drawn to a piece that I started in March at the Vermont Studio Center.  It is a painting on paper, inspired by the wall paintings in my 2009 installation, 'this comes from within'.  

although I exhibited this dress
I didn't think it was finished

I started with a simple drawing which I then reworked and repainted, adding and embellishing with creatures and hands and insects and bodies.  I have started MANY projects using this painting technique - a mostly monochromatic line painting/drawing.  But with all these starts I have hardly finished one of them.  Even with the walls of 'this comes from within' I only stopped painting the walls because I needed to build an 8ft dress out of eggshells. 

So for the FSFA's Paper show I 'finished' my line painting on paper, which has churned up many doubts/questions in my creative soul.  

First, for the longest time many people felt like the painting was finished when I brought it back from Vermont.  But I didn't, I liked parts of it but I felt it needed more.  So off and on I have been adding and subtracting to the painting.  Then, in the past week I tacked it back on the wall and went at it.  Again I had some colleagues suggesting that it was done, but alas I kept seeing areas that I felt was weak, lines that I wanted to strengthen, so I kept on working.

the piece that I left @ FSFA

the 'start' of painting (VSC)

And I LOVED it - I LOVE this technique!!! It is very intuitive, I just start working on an area and I start to see new images emerging or morphing into something else.  I am drawn to creatures and internal organs; these painting seem to just unfold.  I think i could paint like this for hours and days (which I did @ VSC)

So why the questioning - I don't think there is any artist out there who hasn't struggled with the concept of 'over working'??!?!  Also as the 'last call' for entries was approaching I still kept seeing one more area to tweak, one more line to clean up.  And then when I delivered the piece and hung it with the other work I REALLY started to question the work?? I wanted to take it down and rip it up.

So I am struggling with questions ~ who knows when a piece is done?? How does one know?? If the work feels so authentic does that make it your real art, no matter what the end result is or the reception??

I am in the process of re-reading Art & fear: observations on the perils (and rewards) of art making by David Bayles & Ted Orland.  It is a good book about the obstacles that we artists deal with and even create for ourselves.  It addresses the numerous ways that fear can affect, alter and at times sabotage our art.  

Entering this painting to the jurying process has stirred up some emotions for me, one prominent emotion is insecurity?!? I surprised my daughters as I questioned if I should really leave the painting in the gallery.  It is hung by T-pins, so one of my daughters thought it might need a frame but then pointed out that a frame would obscure the surface texture!! 

I am thinking that these emotions are stemming from exhibiting something that is truly personal and new for me.  Besides the installation walls, this is a unfamiliar 'work' for me.  I wondered if I would have felt like a 'fish out of water' if I had submitted a dress?!? A few years ago it was a little out there to submit a sculptural dress but now I think of it as normal.

So why the whirling brain - the endless questioning of myself and my choices.  Was this the right piece to put into this show?? Now with my divorce I need to analyze which projects I spend time on - i need to consider the financial benefits and this makes my head spin.  

So thank you for indulging me in my ramblings and if you have any thoughts or suggestions I would be to hear them.  And even though I have more to say on this subjest, the clock is appoaching 2am and I am driving the carpool at 7:20 am.  (wish I wasn't such a night owl :)

So नमस्ते, Buenas noches, Buonanotte, Bonne nuit, Slap Lekker, Gute Nacht & 
Happy Winter Solstice & peace


  1. Hi Virginia,
    First, I'm sorry to hear you're going through a divorce. A sad and stressful time.
    About overworking your work, and wondering what people will think of it. I did art quilts for years, have done painting, photography, mixed media, etc. I've exhibited, sold some, donated lots, sell notecards that feature my work, sell ACEOs. What I find is that someone always likes my work - even when I couldn't see anything much in it myself. It will be the same with your work. At three stages, other people thought your painting was finished. And it could have been - at any of those stages. Who knows? When you get it back from the show, you may decide to do even more on it, and why not? It's your work. I've followed your blog for quite a while and enjoy seeing your work. You have no good reason to feel insecure about your art. It's good. Period. It's accepted as art by others, it's enoyed by those who see it. You've even given people a chance to be involved in developing your work, like that never-ending crocheted dress. You'll enjoy creating a lot more if you let go of the insecurity about how your work will be judged. Just let it evolve, let it happen. You're an artist, you have talent, and there will always be people who love your work.

  2. Jean - thank you so much for your lovely words I discovered them at the perfect time. I am once again working on my painting , getting it prepped for a show and in this Nth hour before hanging the show my insecurities have made a resurgence. but they are not as strong as early and your words definitely have put them in their place!! so thank you. And I hope you are well. Also I don't know if you are following my other blog, , it has taken some of my attention away from this blog but I am enjoying its message!! it is helping me during this time of transition and rediscovery as I am STILL getting divorced!! thank you again a nd peace!!


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