Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Unlike "Mind and Body I" which began as a black charcoal sketch and then became a color pastel in the finished piece, "Umbrage," which appears a couple entries down, began as a color oil pastel sketch before becoming a black and white painting in its finished form. I don't know why. They take their own path, that's all I can say. I first sent this "Umbrage" pastel to my brother David, thinking he would enjoy it. He didn't. He sent it back, and I sent him what I now consider to be an insipid image called "Under Liberian Skies," and sent this one off to my friend Bill who loved it.
It's been fascinating for me, these last couple of days, revisiting images that I created more than ten years ago. The creative urge in me then was something exciting and frightening. I often made images that I hid away, fearful that anyone would ever see them. I felt as though I were crossing a line... a taboo, and yet, the urge to commit them to paper was greater than my fear of them being seen. Now I laugh, and revel in what I did, and wish that a benefactor would be so moved by my work that he/she would mount a retrospective of my creative journey, and that everyone could see what I kept hidden. Yes, I cringe at the thought of who I was, but more importantly, I validate and honor the journey and celebrate who I have become.
I was always a cat lover. I got my first cat when I was 9 years old, and her name was Minnie. This is an entry that I will probably come back to and add to since it is the doorway to unlocking so much of my life. Minnie was the subject that allowed me to finally open up to my therapist about 13 years ago, and turned me into an emotional person. I told her "it's too late to mourn anything from my childhood." She insisted it was not. But it was too big for me. So she gave me this "homework assignment." Go home and write about just one thing you lost as a child. That thing turned out to be Minnie. She died when I was 14. I went catless for about 17 years, then I got a kitten for Holly for her birthday. She had never had a cat. Mookie was a tailless cat that was colored like a holstein. So we named him "Moo Cow Kitty" or "Mookie" for short. Mookie died very suddenly one morning in 1993, laying a patch of sunlight in my living room, and left us all broken hearted. We loved him so much.
This large pastel hangs in Madeline's bedroom.
Back in 1994, I did this pencil drawing after a silver print of a self portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe.
Say what you will about him, but when my sister Vinca asked me about my painting heroes I didn't include him, because he was a photographer. However, as a creator of art, I admire him. Anyone can enjoy his florals, but I love the controversy he sparked with other creations. Yes, he pushed boundaries. Yes, he pushed peoples' buttons. I think that's what art should do.
I used to make up stories called "The Adventures of Mr. Pumpkinhead." They were silly, fantastic stories about an enchanted jack-o-lantern who loved Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. He had a friend named Rocky, who was an enchanted Lake Superior beach stone, and another friend named Sylvia, who was an enchanted spaghetti squash. I've lost my one copy of the book I made, and maybe it will show up again somewhere, someday. One day as I was recounting the time Mr. Pumpkin head used his magic finger to open and start a car at a car dealership, drive it away, get arrested for grand theft auto, and then be put in jail (he used his magic finger to unlock the jail cell and walk out), my friend's son looked at me and said "You're Mr. Pumpkinhead, aren't you?" I don't know that I'd thought of it that way before, but the question resulted in this oil pastel that I call "Self Portrait as Mr. Pumpkinhead."
Continuing with this theme of showing some of my older work...
Back in about 1994, I had some paintings in an exhibit called "Keepers Of The Waters" which was at the Grand Marais Art Colony. Three in series were entitled "If I'm Drowning", "Dancing With The Ghost of Future Tears" and "The Great Train Robbery of my Soul." They pictured me under water with fish all around me in the first two images, and then this was the third. You could see it as sad or morbid or scary, but to me the effect was comforting. I saw it as a coming to grips with the inevitibility of death... someday.
Monday, September 25, 2006
This charcoal drawing was done as a preliminary sketch for the pastels in the following posts. The idea was to merge mind (represented here by the head) and body... What affects our body affects our mind, and vice versa. So I tried to illustrate the fact that they are inseparable in our lives.
Back in 1993, I was part of an exhibit held at the Grand Marais Art Colony entitled "Proud Flesh: Healing the Scars of Family Violence." The two pieces I submitted were "Mind and Body I: A Childhood Gone Up in Flames" and "Mind and Body II: The Chill of Lonliness". They are oil pastel on watercolor paper. In my next blog entry, I will show the initial compressed charcoal sketch on newsprint that led to these finished pieces. Of course everything I do has a story to go along with it, but in this case, I'll be happy to share if you ask, but with these pieces in particular, I had to come to terms with the fact that they would hang in the gallery without me there to interpret them. So I figure on some level, these speak for themselves, at least in a general way. Perhaps they will strike a common chord in you?
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Last night the Art Colony Member show opened at the Grand Marais Art Colony. I have two pieces in the show, "Moose are Big" and "Has Anybody Seen My Dog" (the painting formerly known as "Life's No Bed Of Roses"). The show contains a wide range of mediums, colors, textures and sizes, and makes for a very colorful and interesting exhibit!