Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mentor Meeting with Harmony Hammond 9/25/10

Drove out to Harmony's studio for our meeting this morning. Got on the road at 6:45 am. The sun was just beginning to peek over the Sandias. Driving east the early light softened the desert--Light greens and golds from recent rain. I can't think of many things more beautiful than the Southwest landscape in the morning.

To begin, Harmony showed me an early Louise Fishman painting on paper that she has in her studio, followed by a slideshow. She brought up things like how you maintain the honesty of the lines. How you keep the paint alive and fresh as you work on a painting. Marks as carriers of meaning. How an artist builds a vocabulary of the surface. How elements integrate or don't integrate. She also touched on how women (and not just women) artists in the 1960s and 1970s were searching for and experimenting with new ways to think about what a painting is. She showed me slides of work where Fishman sewed together strips of canvas cut from her own paintings. (She mentioned that Lee Krasner did this as well, collaging her own work into other paintings). Sort of a cannibalization or deconstruction. Fishman also painted on found materials: cut scraps of plywood, found discs (tondos).

I brought in new work (below):

From 2010 September
acrylic on canvas (in progress), 44"x42".

From 2010 September
acrylic on canvas (in progress), 36"x36".

From 2010 September
acrylic on canvas, 30"x32".

From 2010 September
acrylic on canvas, 33"x26.5".

From 2010 September
acrylic on panel, 32"x32".

Harmony's feedback/discussion:

- The paintings read okay from a distance, which is good, but I am still struggling with the surface/paint issue. They don't hold up close.
- Think about what makes marks feel gratuitous vs. in response to the painting process.
- Restrict the color palette of the underpainting. The paintings with more restraint work better.
- Think about how light hits the paint surface.
- Ask "can this work hold its own out in the world" (how do you know it's done).
- When I go back to "edit", think of how to find the way in. Don't force yourself to work all over...I can edit a small section.
- Pay attention to my tendency to fill in all 4 quadrants and to work in "patches."
- The overt striped painting feels more contrived. Think about the honesty of the marks.
- Large brushes working well. Stroking from edge in; edge out is working. Darker palette is working.
- Pay attention to language and value judgments: the "checklist" of "good" painting. Think about describing, not judging. For example, "there's no place for the viewer to enter," or "there's no focal point." Who says good painting must have a focal point?
- Decide. Choose.

Preparing for January:
- Pick a shape, dimension. Decide on square or rectangle, or make the canvases a single height and then mix together squares and rectangles. (Also think about how you can divide the canvas in similar ways).
- Consider rectangle as a way to suggest the landscape vs. depicting it. The painting space as landscape space.
- Complete 2 canvases for November meeting, with 4 in process.
- Goal is 6 completed canvases to bring to final meeting (and January residency) that are "ready for the world".
- Decide which part of this exploration interests me most for now. Pick something to commit to for the next 4 months.

Look at...

Terri Rolland ( Consider how she handles bands of things coming in from the outside edges of the canvas.

Mary Heilmann.

exhibit at GOK Museum. Consider the translation from the sketches to the canvas. How O'Keeffe performed much of her critical decision-making during the initial looking and selection of the abstract shapes she observed.

Patrick McFarlin: (Obituaries and (mini) Masterpieces). LaunchProjects. Sept. 15-Oct. 17, 2010.

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