Working non-objectively is freeing-- subject to no, er, subject. Like the abstract expressionists of the last century (Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell), my decisions flow organically and the outcome is more a record of the action than a fulfillment of a plan. I am influenced and inspired by what I observe visually and conceptually but rarely show it more tangibly than a juxtaposition of colors or a suggestion of a form. When I do work to a plan it is enjoyable and stretches me. The painting below, "Coloratura," reflects something in between planned and unplanned, non-objective and representational.
After a few months of building up this 3 x 3 ft mosaic, there was a period when it became a bit of a chore. It swallowed up endless strips of paint with little impact. But then a poem I wrote for my mother gave me a new perspective on it, and a clear point of view for finishing it.
He paces on the porch
cocking his head left and right,
straining to see her through the window.
In a flash of feathered finery
he retreats to the crepe myrtle,
more brilliant than the blossoms to come.
She takes up her perch
scanning porch and garden,
searching for him through the window.
In a streak of red flirtation
he gives her his famous fly by,
more blessing for the day to come.
True story! Cardinals have a thing for my mother. I don't believe cardinals are passed loved ones; heaven wouldn't be heaven if we looked back. Angels? Nah. In the Bible they appear as seeeriously buff men. But the point is, after observing the phenomenon for years, I think cardinals have a thing for my mother. Keeping pace with her on walks, fly bys galore, and, on one lovely day in June, looking for her through the window by her favorite chair. When I see a cardinal my heart leaps and I think of my beautiful mother. The day after the cardinal paced in front of the window and gave her the fly by, I wrote the poem above in minutes. Then Mom and I talked once more of cardinals and angels and blessings. Within a couple days I hit the studio to bring this mosaic to the birds. A tiny cardinal is tucked in safe, hints of birds filling the skies as they have since Creation, their morning chorale coming from all directions. Singers seen and unseen, full of color and decorating the air with extravagant music. Coloratura.
The goal to create 50 works in 50 days accomplished more than expected. First of all, it was a blast. Going for quantity freed me from being too precious about working, freed me to experiment. Since my mosaic technique with "palette trash" and glue is pretty clean, I worked even when traveling. Art was produced in four states, two airbnbs, my best friend's kitchen, and almost every room of my home. Thanks to an online writing group during the month of May, I also wrote a great deal in the same spirit of simply producing.
There were days I made multiple works in rapid succession, days I rested, and days I approached every endeavor as a work of art. The compound effect was in full display: creative initiative overflowed. My basement received a complete makeover, including a fairy bed in time for a visit from Mom. I took on an enormous landscaping project I've been dreading. I might be more proud of that project, conquering bamboo, than any other. I even cooked more than I have in years. My other goals- prayer, Scripture study, and long walks provided additional focus and creative impeti. The fifth goal of 50 blog posts...not so much. But if something had to give, that was the one.
The total acts pf creation -- works of visual art, writing, plus furniture/home/landscaping makeovers -- completed between April 21 and June 9 is a whopping 78. Here are my favorites.
Above: This 12 x 12" mosaic may be my all time favorite of the bunch. "Spring Wind" is delightfully cool, stirring tender new branches and scattering blossoms. It demonstrates how my style developed during the intense production period, allowing more of the painted under layers to show and the addition of open, organic shapes. Below: A slideshow of additional favs not yet posted including poems.