PRIVATE PLACES: SECRETS
Group show: Katie Aliprando, Aline Cautis, Sonja Gerdes, Lia Lowenthal
PRIVATE PLACES: SECRETS
The seed was planted in my head at the tail end of my residency at The Banff Centre. I was having a studio visit with Rachel Bacon and we were talking about the differences between painting and drawing. With my background in watercolor I’ve always treated my paintings like drawings. The essays I love center around contemporary drawing and mark-making. I relate more to the language of graphite than that of oils. So she prompted me with a simple question…
“Would you ever try this in black and white?”
Talk about a light bulb moment. That is exactly what I needed to do to push my work. I could see it in my head so clearly. Conceptually I can justify the shift. It made sense. Take the color out of it and let the marks sing.
With the start of 2018 I’ve entered this new phase excitedly. I started with some small canvas test, works on paper and now am in the middle of a large canvas piece. It's quite amazing to see these pieces come alive even with a reduced color pallet.
The bustle of December has got me in hibernation and refocus mode. I finally had some time to think what I want my 2018 to look like and how art can be at the center of it. With the New Years and all the talk of resolutions it got me excited because I realized this is my first year where art is my focus. That said, there is a lot of unchartered territory that I needed to think about. With the help of some art/business/everything-outside-the-studio books and creative podcast my thoughts began to form all throughout December.
There is something to be said for getting it all out on paper. I used to journal all the time throughout middle and high school so it feels natural. It really helps me sort through the ideas/thoughts and make a plan. Not going to lie, buying a new journal and pens always gets me going. I am a visual thinker so just listing things out doesn’t work for me. To make sense of it, I have to map it out. Luckily I found a method that is great for connecting the dots and helped my brain get organized.
Since my return from my residency I have been chomping at the bit to do some explorations of my work in black in white. By simplifying the pallet and removing the color story the marks and their narrative really have a chance to shine through. I am really excited about some of my starts and can’t wait to keep pushing it forward.
This lifestyle isn’t just a change for me but for my crew too. The dogs and I are trying to negotiate studio space and when/if/how they are allowed in there. I love their company but sometimes I need to focus. Luckily Gian’s shop is finally all setup so when I am in my studio he can be out there making furniture, knives and whatever else he imagines. That’s the idea at least, we’ll see how it goes.
I know a lot can happen in a year and I am excited to see where 2018 takes me.
since july of 2016 my crew and i have been in full on go-mode.
we packed up our first home and moved to a place that i had only visited for 2.5 days the month prior. we both left our jobs and set off on our own path in the same location.
when you are in go-mode you set mile markers to hit. you know where you are going but are constantly thinking in immediate next steps.
unpack, find a house, make it home, find a job, find creative community, get a dog, change plans, sell house, fill boxes, take a break, pick a place, find a house, move stuff, unpack, artist residency, make house a home, be an artist.
we made it back to portland +1 fuzzy friend.
it’s a little weird moving back to a place. it is familiar but, at the same time, disorienting. it’s like a dream; it all feels right but it’s different. a continued state of déjà vu. nothing has changed and everything has changed. there is this underlying comfort that feels good but there is a lot of unknown which feels strange. it’s terrifying and exciting at the same time.
when we moved away i learned how to direct my energy towards a single goal: focus more on my art. this is something i set in motion back in 2016 but when we moved to a new space, this idea finally had room to come to life.
here i am, 479 days later, and i've made it to my final mile marker: be an artist.
today, i start working in my own studio… so i guess i am one step closer.
It’s been a whirlwind. Lightening speed until today and then calm. I packed up my work and painted the walls white. My supplies and artwork is neatly tucked in the corner of a now empty studio. The end comes back to the beginning. A state of freshness and renewal that only white walls can give.
Here are the top 5
1. STUDIO VISITS
From curators to peers it’s been amazing to talk shop, ask a questions and poke holes in my practice. Lots of little light bulb moments that create big change on how I think about my work and what I want to do next. I am so grateful for the time people were willing to exchange and share.
2. WALL SPACE
It was amazing to be surrounded by all the art I made while here. I was crazy productive and it was really impactful to see it all up in one space. It was a lot to take in but it allowed me to see how far I have come.
This residency has been intense. From switching between solitude and group hangs in a new space it has been nice to kick back and relax a bit with a glass of wine with new friends. There are a lot of good people here that have helped me stay sane or at least can sympathize with my thought patterns so I didn’t feel alone. Unlimited cheers and thanks for the words and laughs.
4. PHOTO SERVICES
The trio at photo services is amazing. They documented all my work for me and captured some amazing studio shots along the way. I am so excited to see my work professionally shot and I am so grateful for their time and their talent. They literally saved me over 3 days worth of work. Total GODSEND.
I thought I would be tapped out and need a break from art but honestly, apart from going home and reuniting with my crew, I can’t wait to get back to work. I have a flood of ideas that I can’t wait to try out. I want to push, pull and break my process. Remove the scaffolding and see what I am left with on the page/canvas
NOW time to eat asian food with some of my favorite people and then drive to the airport to pick up my FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WORLD.
you get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place...
like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.
found on the wall in the bathroom at the bear's paw bakery in jasper. timing is on point. thank you azar nafisi for your words and to the bakery for toilet and the latte.
Well things have picked up quite a bit as as we progress into the final two weeks it feels crazy to me that I am start to think about wrapping everything up. But before I skip ahead here are my top 5 for the past two weeks.
1. Pause, A Break
We did a group show. By we, I mean 4 painters and 1 drawer. All femme, all good. We were surprised by how well everything came together.
2. Open Studio
Last Wednesday we had a self-directed open studio. Geo-Time residency was winding down so we decided to open our doors and peek our heads into each others spaces. We got to see everyones progress on their own work and also talk about our own. Very refreshing to have these conversations. Also, I sold some art!
4. Reinvigorating Work
While work was up in the gallery and then for my open studio I took a semi-pause. I went to the library to get all new books and inspiration for the paintings I started next. I stretched two large canvases and started 16 new large paper pieces. I am trying to plan out the rest of my time here so I don’t create more of a mess. I will say though I am loving spray paint. Luckily there is a separate booth for that.
The cafeteria and restaurant are my main sources of food and serve pretty basic stuff. Not much flavor or too much of the same types of flavor. This week, I got to eat ramen! It was so good to get that spicy broth and noodles. Craving it all the time now.
5. Studio Parties
We work all day in solitude so socialization and hanging out is a must. Work hard, play hard sums it up. We’ve had some solid hangouts/parties. So. Good. Geo-timers headed out this Saturday and so we had one final hoo-rah with them Friday night. I danced my face off and Karaoke happened as well. Yours truly did not grace the mic but made up for it with dance moves. I will miss my ladies dearly. Global friendships, here we go.
I’ve been in my studio for three straight weeks and among the solitude I keep returning to a single question: WHY?
Why am I doing what I am doing? Why marks? Does it mean anything? Why is it important? Am I crazy? What am I trying to do?
I by no means have a final answer around this but I do have some thoughts. I will lay them out as best I can. These ideas are fluid and not fully formed.
. . .
I’ve realized my current body of work has two primary influences: a life outdoors and my career in communications and graphic design.
Nature has always helped keep me centered. Its been my part of my internal compass and center. Living a life where I can be outside and connect with the world around me makes me feel part of something greater. I love how the vastness of spaces makes me feel free like a bird and how the impressiveness of mountains make me feel like an ant. I am constantly navigating, exploring and trying to figure out how I fit into this world around me. The physical world gives me energy that I internalize and then externalize through my work. There is a constant exchange between intake and output.
My work uses color and form to create a language and express/communicate intangibles. I categorize intangibles as all the stuff you don’t see going on behind the scenes: ideas, emotions, energy, thoughts. These are things where, for me, words fall short.
I really try to think of painting as a construction of an image. Dealing with things we don’t have proper language for. The neologism is there to address when language isn’t enough. Through repetition of the mark there is this desire to try to invent something.
– Julie Mehretu
I have built a visual vocabulary of marks. I am fascinated with repetition and patterns. I love how a set of marks looks one way but when you change your material it changes the entire ethos of those same marks. I often think I am crazy. Repeating the same thing over and over again on multiple paintings. Is my language not diverse enough? Am I just making the same work over and over again with different colors? We are all critics but I am always my greatest. This is when I have to reach outside of myself and look to others.
One mark leads to the next and then feeds onto another painting.
– Heather Day
"I love your use of marks. When I look at them it makes me want to make marks. I just love the tediousness of some." – Soundbites from peers post Pause, A Break
So I am not alone and I am not crazy. This does mean something. What I’ve realized is that I am obsessive and I am endlessly on this pursuit to sort out what is going on in my head and the world around me. I’ve always leaned on my internal states as the subject of my work and I am creating a language for me to process it all. So yes, for me, my work is personal but it isn’t just about me. If it was, my language would be way more specific.
The unconscious is a language.
– Lara Pawson
What I’ve realized is that working in communications/design I’m always looking for the most simplistic way to convey an idea or a thing. A reduced visual language to show the thing in it’s most simplistic but informational form. I love in the Netflix mini doc series ABSTRACT with illustrator Christoph Niemann when he talks about using a heart to create a symbol for love through his ABSTRACT-O-METER. He sorts out how to convey the idea of the thing versus the actual thing itself.
I am constantly intaking the world around and within me and regurgitating it onto my work. I create a world where triangles are trees, directions or movement; wonky lines are trails, a ridge line or my own path. Where dashes can be the wind, migrations, or thoughts and color can be landscapes, water or emotions.
The form is the body of the color.
The color is the soul of the form.
– Kevin Gerstner
It is important for me to create something that show opposite states co-existing within a single piece. I’ve always framed it in my mind as states of control and lack there of. Order + chaos. Rigidity + fluidity. Spontaneous + intentional. Guttural + soft.
“Something effortless and something considered”
– Heather Day
That is important to me because as entities (humans, landscapes, etc.) we are dynamic, constantly changing, reacting, growing and shifting. These altered states demonstrate states of flux that coexist amongst one another. Complexity + simplicity.
So I return to my first question:
W H Y ?
I do it because I have to.
Yesterday was the opening of the BAiR (Banff Artist in Residence) 2D show in The Project Space Gallery. It came together beautifully and I'm glad to my art can hang among some badass babes. Here are some photos - hopefully we can get some better quality ones later.
the form is the body of the color. the color is the soul of the form.
through repetition of the mark there is a desire to invent something.
art 21: Julie Mehretu recontextualizes the history of American landscape painting by merging its sublime imagery with the harsh realities not depicted.
Alright folks, recap and reflection time. This past week was all about settling in and finding that flow. Starting to crank out the work and it feels so good. Here are last week’s top fivers.
1. R H Y T H M : I wasn’t sure how working in the studio for 8+ hours on back to back days would go. Would I fall out of love with making art? Would I get bored? Would I rather be doing something else, somewhere else. Luckily, no. It surprises me still but even after getting in to the studio by 9 I find myself wanting to go back after dinner. I know it is still early in the residency so hopefully this doesn't change by week 5. I love me some check list so that has been helping me stay focused and keep the momentum going on a day to day basis.
2. T R I F E C T A : I’ve found my personal pinnacle trifecta – art, exercise and outdoors. There are free workout classes here so I’ve been doing lots of yoga and spin. Being mostly in my head all day thinking about work or listening to podcast, it is nice to take a break and empty out your mind. Also, I think what has been saving my sanity are the little hikes we go on. We go in groups because it is mating season for elks and bears are a real thing. This keeps me social and gets me some fresh O2. Crucial.
3. P R O C E S S : I’ve found my flow with canvas and am happy to say that I now feel confident with the material. It is crazy to me that it has only been two weeks but I am stretching and prepping and doing my thang. It feels really empowering and I am excited that I’ve found my groove with this new surface so quickly. Still learning a lot with each painting but feels good to be grounded.
4. S O C I A L : Working in the studio in isolation is so important for getting my work to a new place BUT it is really nice to be around a group of like-minded folks who I can hang out with. It really helps balance out the alone time and it’s just a lot of fucking fun. I’ve only felt cabin fever hard once and being around other folks helps chill that vibe out. Praise the fellow wierdos.
5. S P A C E : Having access to such a large studio is really helping my hone in on what I need for my own personal space. We (and by we, I mean Gian) is working on my studio interior while I am gone and it’s been really fun collaborating and brainstorming with him of what I like and dislike. If anyone has recommendations on how to get softer floors please let me know! I work a lot on the floor and my knees are killing me. I know knee-pads are a solid solution but I just don’t think I am there yet.
And then there is this...
I’ve had the canvas bug for years but have never had the space/time/resources/knowledge/you name it to switch over. When Banff became an option I knew that it would be the perfect place to try out this new-to-me surface that I’ve swooned over from afar.
Last week I did a lot of research on canvas. What type to use [linen/cotton/gessoed/pre-gessoed/raw], how to stretch it [watched you-tubes and friends stretch/staple their own], how to prep it for the materials I want to use [clear gesso, acrylic release flow, fluid matte medium, acrylic ground for pastels]. I tested out some methods and got friendly with the staple gun.
Fast forward to today and I’ve stretched and prepped two my own canvases (2’ x 2’ and a large 4’ x 3’). AND, according to art-babe Cindy, I’ve done a good job (woot! go me). It is super empowering to be able to own your process and take the wheel.
Despite the french ⇌ english instructions, she showed me her stretching ways. You should check out her work.
Things I Love About Canvas
I N T I M A C Y : Working with canvas is a very intimate experience. Compared to paper where you just pull it out and get going - you are very much apart of the process. You get very physical with the material. You cut, tear, pull, tuck, fold and prep the fabric. You watch the structure of weave to make you’re not pulling it too tight. You tug at the fabric pieces until you get the perfect origami corner fold. You let the raw canvas absorb your colors as you pour the liquid onto it’s surface. You brush the pigment into it’s fibers and then wait for it to dry. You add protective layers so you can preserve it for the long haul. You are actively building on its surface and watching it absorb and/or hold everything you put into it. This material has won me over hard.
R A W : I love being able to work with an exposed surface. You let the fibers show through. For me, it feels so much more connected to the earth and referential to where this material came from. You get to appreciate the fabric in its natural state.
F L U I D I T Y : It feels so good to work in a watercolor-like method again. Bringing fluidity back into my work means losing control. I do my best to create what I want but, at the end of the day, the materials and the pigments dry unpredictably. For me, that is so beautiful. I love having that as my base for the painting again.
The first week has all been about exploration in this new-to-me physical and mental space. The landscape is awe-inspiring and the hikes are magical. My studio is huge and already feels like home (I am a pro-nester at this point as I have moved 5x this year). The people are incredible (+ I ♡ my roomie). It’s been amazing to see everyone’s work and pick their brains about theory and process. I have been missing that in my life since my undergrad days.
Top 5 Things
1. ART HANGOUTS: Last night a group of us gathered in my studio and just hung out. We’ve been going into town, eating dinners at the cafeteria and grabbing coffee between presentations. Overall it’s been really refreshing to be around other artist and talk art and non-art.
2. LEARNING CANVAS: I’ve picked brains, watch the you-tubes, emailed back and forth with product specialist and am now exploring with canvas. I found this technique that I am obsessed with. It’s very similar to watercolor and allows me to keep the raw canvas exposed. Hello new world, I love you.
3. BEAUTY: I am literally surrounded by mountains in a bowl of natural beauty. It gives me this state of Zen like no other and that comes into my studio. I’ve been taking photos of the colors and ridge lines and want to bring it into my work.
4. NESTING: Once I was given my studio keys I was eager to unpack and make the space feel like mine. Just like a blank canvas I need to create a space where I feel at home and zen.
5. AGGRESSIVE MALES: We hiked and ran into an Elk herd. It’s breeding season and the males are VERY aggressive. We had to turn around and go back once the male laid claim to his land. There were about 10 female/young elks and the male herded them out of the area and then began marking his territory. Bow down to Mother Nature. She always wins.
I am posting a lot on Instagram Stories so be sure to follow me for day-to-day happenings.
i love my park city creative family so when pcsc arts reached out to me to help them brand a new project i couldn't say no. i worked closely with them on monster drawing rally where they kimball art center was co-presenting the event. one thing i've learned is when you work with people and it clicks, that means something. i wholeheartedly believe in creatives supporting one another to help lift each other up. they have always cheered for me so i can easily rally for them.
due to timing, i had to make the best of my basement apartment and transform it into a makeshift studio. with that i cleared out the room as much as i could, pushed to dog toys aside and laid down craft paper so i could get the floors dirty.
this type of project is particularly fun for me because my two worlds collide: design and art. the brand brief was simple - take my style of art and make a C. selfishly i like the duality as the C is my initials as well. the end result, a couple of c-designs for them to choose from and play with.
life is full of glorious surprises. this past thursday i got notice that i was accepted into the BAiR (Banff Artist in Residence) for visual + digital art. to be honest i didn't think i would. this put me in one beautiful pickle... Vermont Studio Center or Banff Center. after weighing all the pros and cons (finances, program, location, facilities, project, impact on my spouse, etc.) i decided to go north of the wall – winter is coming – isn't it? GoT aside, i cannot be more excited.
one thing that solidified my decision was re-reading through my cover letter. i won't re-write it all but here is what stood out to me:
my number one priority for this residency was to lean on others to teach me what i need to know so i can change my surface. when i was planning on attending the Vermont residency i was anxious about how to get materials there and could feel myself already defaulting to work on what i know, paper. this reminded me that i did want to learn and try something new. at Banff i'll have access to that support so that i can do this...
what better place to get lost in creation then this...