I am excited to be able to announce that my solo art show at Sautee Nachoochee Center for the Arts this summer has not been cancelled. From July 3rd through August 9th my artwork will be in the hallway gallery. I do not know yet if there will be an opening reception, but hopefully by then we will all be getting out more. I will be showing a collection of plein air waterfall paintings, the 31 ink drawings I did in the month of October, as well as paintings and sculptures. Some of the pieces were in last summer’s Nth Gallery exhibit, but there will be plenty of new work too.
I am calling the small drawing/painting I have just finished “In Celebration of Negative Ions.” It is my attempt to bring the elements of my recent drawings and paintings together into one piece. They actually blended more harmoniously than I expected.
My newest painting, Profile in Growth, reminds me of the wood scrap paintings I used do almost a decade ago when we lived in Dawsonville. It is quite a bit bigger but the color and patterns as well as the lighter more whimsical nature of the piece seem similar. The design started as a doodle in my work notebook that seemed interesting enough to explore further. The painting went very quickly. I did most of it during a couple of marathon phone conversations last week. It seemed like it would be done all in acrylics until the very end when the oil pastels decided they needed to get involved. Though looking at the below pictures the difference does not seem that pronounced I think they add a lot of vibrancy to the piece.
I finished it and added a simple wire to the back in time to take it to this month’s SNC show, but when I get it back I think I may add a frame to give it a bit more depth before my Nth Gallery exhibition. It is painted on an old shelf I found and hangs a bit awkwardly because of a runner along its back. It will feel more substantial (and look more professional) with 1×3″ wood trim around it. I will just have to decide rather to paint it black or try and continue the pattern all around like I usually do.
I am pleased to have finished the next addition to my Painting Eyeballs on Chaos series that I will be exhibiting in July at the Ninth Degree Gallery in Boone, North Carolina. This was my first time using an Aquabord panel and it presented some interesting challenges. I started out with watercolor, totally lost control of the piece and then started using whatever was on my work table (markers, pencils, acrylics, etc.) until it started to cooperate again.
I spent the first day of the year working on my my art, my hope was to start the year by finishing a painting. I felt like it would have been a good sign of an artistically productive year ahead. I did not finish one that day, but I am happy to report that I finished several last night in time for them to be taken to the Sautee Nachoochee Center today for the next show. Three new pieces in the first half of the first month of the year seems like a good start.
The first two pieces are part of the Painting Eyeballs on Chaos series I have been working on. Though I have been slowly reading my way through Dogen’s essays I still have not gotten to that passage yet. I find the reading difficult, but it feels important to me to see the phrase in its original context. There is more I need to understand about it. I think I have just barely scratched the surface of what I feel like I need to learn. I already have a new board on the easel with some more eyeballs and chaos starting to get roughed in. This series may go on for a while.
I started the largest painting (Dawn over Chaos) on Christmas in my normal way, drawing in a basic design and then adding solid colors one by one, but before I got very far I had some technique conversations with the illustrious Anthony Coffey. I asked him about how he layers his colors and gets such a nice glow to them. He shared some of his secrets with me that I decided to start experimenting with right away. I took “in progress pictures” all along and the first three (in the gallery below) are my usual technique, then the next three show his influence. The final paintings do not differ hugely from my normal work, but I do think they may glow a bit more. I am going to continue to play with this new way of “glazing” and see where I can go with it.
The last whimsical little piece is more of a drawing than a painting. I have been trying to revisit meditation, but so far blankness of mind has alluded me. The contrast between the calm position of the hand and the swirling mass of colors around it was supposed to be about that, but once my children pointed out that it looks like a picture for the Circle Game I had a hard time continuing to take it seriously. The audience at the SNCA will probably see it as a mudra, but if it ends up hung in the tattoo shop all anyone there will see is the meme.
Flight Opportunity, Acrylic on Canvas, 23″ x 31″, October 2016
I worked on this painting from April to October 2016. It has been shown at the Quinlan Art Center in Gainesville and the Sautee Nachoochee Art Center, but I just got it hung on the wall at my new house yesterday morning. It is now directly in front of me when I sit in the living room to drink my coffee in the morning to read and write. I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what the next step in my life should be, the reasons I might chose one path or another, and the validity of those reasons in the grand scheme of things. The most recent work I have been doing has been trying to face the decisions and the emotions that come along with them head on. But somehow this painting brought me to realizations that the others had not.
The symbolism is not obscured. One does not need to be an expert in art interpretation or psychology to see that the figure in the picture is lost deep in the tangle of vegetation, smothered but still making an effort to reach out towards the clearing. Though the little bird may have an opportunity to take flight, at first glance it seems unlikely the hidden figure will. I think the case could be made that a sacrifice has been made to give the little bird a chance. The fact that I know that underneath this painting is the last self portrait I attempted before moving to Mexico literally adds another layer of meaning. Even though the years of marriage and children have covered up who I once was, I like the new painting better than the old one. I do not wish to move backwards. If by chance someone should climb up out of the tangle I would not want it to be the same person who got covered up to start with.
My father, Noyes Capehart, has a page on his website called Thematic Variations where he states,
“It is one of the great lessons from the art of the past: the first response to a picture idea – the same could be said of a piece of music or a story – may not reveal its essence. One need only look at Monet’s impressive output of water lilies, or Morandi’s tireless efforts to capture the mystery of bottles, or Picasso’s insatiable curiosity with Manet’s Luncheon on the Grassto see that the first solution is not always the strongest. Beethoven fashioned no fewer than three variations of the overture to his Leonora, and Tolstoy was making changes with War and Peaceas it went to press. I think of a variation in much the same way that I consider an artichoke; the outer, tough leaves have to be peeled away in order to reveal the delicious heart.”
The revisiting I have been doing of the image ‘Perennial Possibilities’ does not find itself in the same category as the master works that he mentions, but I still find it interesting to look at the different ways I have worked with the same blooming face and swirls over the past few months.
The image started as a work day doodle on the back of a report right as I was getting ready to start focusing my attention on creating my Curled, Whirled and Twisted coloring book. The doodle actually ended up being the start for two separate coloring pages as well as the principal image I used for the cover.
Since the coloring book’s completion I have been refocusing on my painting. I have finished three small paintings this month, one of which is an acrylic on chopping block version of Perennial Possibilities. I thought I was done with the image until I started putting this post together. Now I am wondering if I should revisit it yet again and see what else might evolve.