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Showing posts from November, 2014

The Lonely Road into Abstraction

It is a scary business moving from representational painting into abstraction.  Within the past two weeks, three of my former students have written to tell me how very alone they feel on their transition into abstraction.  It is a great act of courage. 
I went through the journey into abstraction about five years ago. At that point, I had been painting representationally for twenty-five years and had a successful art career with seven galleries representing my work.  I considered moving into abstraction for several years but didn’t know how to make the leap. In the summer of 2009, I simply decided it was time. I jumped off the cliff into the unknown world of abstraction with no idea what I was doing or where I was going.  There were no limitations or parameters. I was free-falling. It was terrifying. Even though I had painted for 25 years by this time, I had no idea where to begin.  It felt like my own Dark Night of the Soul.  Although this term is used in Roman Catholicism for a spiri…

Shhh-Listen to the Painting

I struggled with a painting I was working on the other day.   It’s a large one, 60x60”.  I kept getting unwanted lines. Nothing was blending or flowing.  I am always aware of how the painting is going, what it’s saying to me as I work on it and I try to follow that.  What I didn’t realize is that I was trying to control the painting more than I knew. As I  struggled, I talked to myself a little.  I told myself that I could always add  another layer on it tomorrow. That’s normally the way I work, layer upon layer, gradually building up the surface day by day, in thin transparent layers. I worked this one over and over, back and forth, trying to blend it, going in different directions, adding more paint.

I tried to stay in a calm meditative place but after several hours of this, I needed a break. 

I stepped back, sat on my comfy chair and took a sip of tea.  Then I turned to look at the painting again.  In the space of my moving away from the painting and sipping my tea, the painting had …