Saturday, November 4, 2017

Subtle, Still Life

Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1960
My show is down, my baby is crawling (and therefore finally taking good naps) and I can get a half hour of thinking time to myself.  I remember everyone saying having a baby is so hard, or, your life will never be the same.  And while I believed them and knew that would be the case, I pictured it more as a physical change of running around, changing diapers, cleaning bottles.  This is true and difficult.  But the hardest part as a painter is the mental space it occupies.  It's so important outside of the studio to be able to walk around and daydream, observe things, in a sort of free association.  But having Clyde makes for worrying and planning in every minute, where even if I am out in the world I'm not seeing spontaneously, because of the to do list etched in my mind's eye.  It's depleting in that way.  But fulfilling in other ways I've never had.

I've actually seen a ton of shows recently, going to NY for my show and catching them here and there, and needing destinations for our walks in Philly, I have seen a lot of painting in person recently.  And the more I see the more I keep retreating back to a few paintings and ideas etched even deeper in my mind's eye than my to-do list. 

E.M. Saniga, Beets, n.d.

Sanyu, Five Pears, n.d.

Andre Brasilier

Andre Brasilier

Sydney Licht, Still Life with Sardine Can, 2015

I didn't realize it then but my revisiting of these paintings and ideas of subtlety
 started on the residency in Ireland in May.  Not only did I have the whirlwind in my personal life but changing physical spaces and studios is very uprooting.  

The first week or two that we got there I kept feeling the need to try to paint what I was seeing, these vast, majestic, deep spaces.  The studio building is filled with great plein air work from previous residents.  But these paintings are not paintings I make or have interest in making.  On our daily walks I started gathering flowers along the road and little objects from our cottage and brought them into the studio.  Along with a little mirror, I was able to make paintings that were much more interesting to me and felt like mine, small self portraits and still lives.  

Part of me felt very out of place in this landscape making these paintings.  They had nothing to do with the direct observation of the surroundings, aside from the color.  But the paintings are in direct opposite reaction to the chaotic and dramatic personal experience I had.  Again I felt the power and conviction in making the subtlest, quietest paintings.