Already the residency is a little over midpoint.
A belated “Thank You!!!” to all who came out for the Open House – it was a great turn out.
If you didn’t get the chance to make it to Open House, come by to see the works before a July rotation. Two of my avian pieces are traveling to Oahu to join other avian pieces for a 2-person show at Hawai’i Pacific University that has been a year in the works. I will also have a piece in the Mango Show Honolulu part of the Mango Jam Honolulu festival, later this summer. If you are in Old Forge, NY later this summer, stop by the View to see group show For the Birds – my piece “Feathered Quilt” will be in it. In other news, I found out that I was selected to be on the Fort Worth Public Art Pre-Qualified List of National Established Public Artists – good things! Other pieces up at Horlock currently will be on display at the Village Café starting in July for show featuring all 3 of us Horlock artists.
What you saw, or didn’t see, if you were there or not for Open House, in my gallery were Texas-inspired works. What I have been doing is keeping an eye open for things – creatures especially. Good luck has provided a number of witnessings: I did not expect to see so much wildlife within a 20-mile radius of Horlock. So I have been keeping an eye open and snapping lots of photos. A few of these photographs (>20%) turn out to be resourceful and these become source material for drawings. Of the things witnessed, I was able to achieve best proximity with the recently deceased. At least, some of the things that were recently deceased were incredibly ‘exotic’ because they were new and thus fascinating and I ended up drawing them in order to understand them better, figuratively. These individuals included an armadillo, a frog, and a coyote – “Spineless,” “XOXOs, Frogger, “ and “Howl,” respectively. The focus is not a morbid fascination but more of an empathetic remorse. “I relate to you, smooshed frog, because as a pedestrian, I, too, share the road.” I do not speak such passing thoughts out loud to the smooshed critters. In the past, however, I have drawn from taxidermied specimens simply because it is a good way to study the details of a form. It is probably not the best way to learn a form, though; in order to learn a form it is better to see how something works and in the case of animals that means observing how things move: mechanics; ALIVE. The other resource to work from when attempting to draw a visually/structurally accurate representation of a thing is a photograph.
Being able to work from one’s own photographs is actually quite a luxury and a crutch. With a cellular device equipped with an 8MP camera a person can scamper up to a disoriented coral snake on the highway as close as he or she dares, take a photo, and then do something with that. So while being grateful to have these pictorial records on hand to refer to to correct my memory-failing mistakes with, I do wonder how the digital 2-D image might be otherwise impacting my work. The eyes for instance definitely prefer drawing from a ‘live’ 3-dimensional source. The owl or the coral snake or whatever it is, sadly, won’t hold still or wait for me to run back and grab my sketchbook if I don’t have it on me. For the two large pieces, “Victoria Tree” and “Peckerwoods,” I worked from photographs in books from the Navasota Public Library. The pieces are “neighborhoods” showcasing bird species (alive) typically or exclusively found in Texas. They lean towards the narrative but don’t have a specific narrative in mind. That is left for the viewer to construct.
The hunter-gatherer mentality is an ample part of my artistic process. Often I will find myself searching quite earnestly without any definite sense of what I am looking for. Instead of curbing this drive indefinitely I allow it to breathe periodically. It ends up driving me into unpredictable happenings, finding things. It can be helpful. As a non-native in Texas, for example, I feel it would be irresponsible if not impossible to create work about a place I do not know well, out of my own head, just like that; but if I could develop at least a subjective understanding of a place that is unfamiliar to me, then it would be ok. Then the work could be a response to certain aspects, by no means an editorial. It is said that every painter paints him/herself, and I would agree with that for the most part. Visual reflections are unavoidably subjective. These rules and restrictions are all self-engineered and self-applicable, but they apply. A sense of place is established through observation, research, and literally connecting with land.
You cannot have a response if you have not anything to respond to. So my drawing, as a response, feeds on experience.