Saturday, December 14, 2013

Working in a New Space, on New Ideas, and New Thoughts

The past two weeks have been as stressful as any in recent memory.  The day after arriving back from Thanksgiving festivities my wife answered the door to the landlord giving us 30 days notice.  Apparently our apartment was the cheapest one in the building and in order to comply with his mortgage terms he is required to reside in the building.  Ergo, we got the boot.  As we began our search for apartments I recalled a conversation with my good friend Shirah about sharing her studio space.  I immediately got on the wire with her and she told me that the offer was still on the table.  Eureka.

Two days later I was moving my stuff into her space.  It is a gorgeous space in the old State Theater building in downtown Portland.  I moved a number of my surfaces, my studio table, my shoe boxes full of small projects, sketchbooks and artist books into the new space.  There isn't enough room for my pile of found wood nor, perhaps, for my drill press or wood working table.  I haven't crossed that bridge as of yet.  That said, there has been plenty of room to make some new work and to escape from the emotional battle that is apartment hunting.  My studio assistant put up a quick blog post about the spot here.

The new space has left me thinking about some new ideas, but mostly has provided me some privacy in my creative habit.  Since I've been married my schedule is much more chaotic.  There is a lot that needs to be organized and prioritized in a relationship that is quite often completely ignored when you are a bachelor.  I've started reading a couple art theory books there.  One is by German philosopher, Johann Gotlieb Fichte.  He argues, essentially, that we only know our own perspective and that we cannot understand any others, because other perspectives are still filtered through our own perspective.  While this is certainly an obvious thought, it is an obvious thought which I had not given much attention to recently.  An old friend used to tell me when folks were making life difficult for him that their perceptions and opinions were "their story."  I couldn't help but think of that concept while reading through Fichte's theories.

What this really meant from a creative stand point was that I felt more open to the work that I had in various stages of development in the studio.  There are times when I feel like work that is a little older is actually work produced by an entirely different individual and to be sure, I don't think that this idea is far from the mark.  I've heard that individuals live a different life every five years.  I might have thought this a load of malarkey roughly 8 months ago, but am thoroughly confident at moments when I am sitting in a midwife's house watching my wife's blood be drawn and asking questions about hemoglobin levels etc., that life is completely different now than when I was 28 years old. 

With this new ability to accept some of my old work as work done by another hand, I started to work in a sketchbook that my studio assistant brought to me the night of the last art walk in Portland.  I filled at least ten pages of the book with new ideas, heads, characters in more elaborate scenes and lighthouses.  Lighthouse paintings, for obvious reasons, have not been a source of terrible interest for me in the past, but for some reason it dawned on me that it would be interesting to manipulate some of the imagery that is most common in tourist pieces. 

The fourth piece is an old piece that I never finished.  I've actually done some more work to it since this point.  It is now referencing some Hiroshige trees and landscapes that I really enjoy.  I have always wanted to find a way to mimic some of the color in the old Japanese and Chinese scrolls as well, so it would appear that there is some learning to be done within this piece.  Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to work with the old and bring in the new.

Lastly, I have been working on a small series of city scape slices.  While I was looking out the window during a class I was teaching I began to draw the top of a building that I have always loved, and the sketchbook drawing later worked into this piece and two others very similar to it.

The piece is very tiny.  I have been working on some tiny interpretations of the old birds with headphones within these works as well.  I need to get a few more tiny brushes to finish the paintings up, but it seems more appropriate to fit the avian audiophiles into scenes with ordinary birds.  The audiophiles were always meant to be representative of some sort of outcast, an individual cut off from the rest of their own by choice.  Music serves as the friend that sometimes people cannot be for those of us who have found a spot inside ourselves that is perhaps too accepting of the sad.  That is what I was always trying to get at with those birds and I am not sure that I was getting it across.  The bird paintings were always a little too happy.  I am hoping that the moody atmosphere will make that point a little more obvious to the folks who look beyond the city scape. 

So, let me thank you for listening to my perspective.  Please do enlighten me with yours.  It would be good to hear from you.


No comments: