I’ve talked in past blog posts of how I had oodles of artwork, in all mediums, shapes, and sizes, from my past that are bursting out of their paper portfolios and stacks of canvases resting against the wall of our basement.
In other words, I have a huge stockpile of old art!
Not all of it is any good. In fact, many of it is where it should be, hidden away! But it is a testament to my training and my history as an artist. It is how I got from there to here.
So I thought I’d dust a few off and share them with you, explaining where I was, what my thought processes were, and how that propelled me forward.
This was a painting I did in my junior or senior year of high school in Virginia. I had been taking Spanish and thought I was being very clever with the title, “El llama de Mexico”. (Which doesn’t really even need a translation!)
I had just discovered the cubists,in particular Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, and was trying to emulate their style. It was a very exploratory time for me. I was learning about artists and how they were influenced. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and into the real world so that I could have my own life experiences to draw from.
Life didn’t disappoint!
This painting was created while I was in college at the Cleveland Institute of Art. I was influenced by the feminist ideas that had opened up to me while being at an art college in a metropolis. I did an entire series of curvy women in lingerie with the intention of showing…I’m not sure what. Perhaps how women are exploited, and how they didn’t fit the molds they were given?
Obviously, the series didn’t go very far, but it was fun to break free and explore new ideas.
The painting itself is a nod to the city of Cleveland that I was discovering. I like how the curve of the land emulates the curves of the woman. I can’t say it’s a very subtle piece, in fact, it’s rather loud and brash. Very unlike me!
In contrast, this piece was created while I was living in England, post-college. I had just married and we were living there for two years while my husband fulfilled a post-doctorate. I was creating art for my portfolio, to try to land a job in my my field of illustration.
This was a proposed greeting card design. It is sweet and sentimental, reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and the English countryside I was discovering. It was art that I thought might land me a job.
Nonetheless, I enjoy the colors and the playfulness. It is a card I wouldn’t mind receiving, an important lesson I learned. If I wasn’t happy with my work, how could I expect others to like it?
As time went on and we were living back in the states, I decided to go back to graduate school. This was done while in a studio class where the professor had us manipulate an old book.
The exercise was very liberating. I chopped it up, added found objects and scraps, stapled, sewed, punched holes out of it, highlighted words from the text, and scribbled out others. I even glued the pages of the last 1/3 of the book and cut a hole in them so that I could embed objects.
I attacked that book like a crazed woman!
But the book had other lessons for me, besides freeing my creative juices. I began to see trends in the themes of my pages and was drawn to certain objects and mediums. Specifically, I had begun using maps and exploring aspects of the places I lived.
Ultimately, this manipulated book was the catalyst for my thesis project a year later, a series of large mixed medium pieces that explored the theme of place using maps and found objects. (I’ve talked about those pieces in more detail in my archived blogposts: Where Were You- Part 1 and Were Were You- Part 2)
Lastly, is a painting I did only about 4 years ago. I had taken a hiatus from art to raise my family but as my youngest daughter got older, so did the desire to get back into my art. So I took the first step and enrolled in an acrylic painting class through a local recreational center.
The painting was done from a picture of the street my husband and I once lived on in Connecticut when we first moved back to the states. It was a place in my distant past, and as I painted it the memories of that time came flooding back.
A lot of life had happened since that time, and I was grateful for the memories.
This painting was my turning point. I enjoyed painting again but wasn’t sure how it could enter my world that had been without it for so long. With this painting I loosened up and found The Zone again. (The place where time stops and nothing in the world matters besides you and your art. It’s a great place to be!)
With this piece I decided that I could do this. I could be an artist again. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew I needed to try.
So how did you end up here from there? Good question!
Here is a recent painting of mine. It is influenced by the Banyan Trees I discovered from a trip to China my family and I took two summers ago. Never in a million years could that high-schooler or even that graduate school student have imagined I would have had such an opportunity and now be producing work inspired by it.
Yet if you look carefully, you can see the influences of all those years ago. My style is influenced by the artists I’ve come across in my life (as in my high school phase), it has the intensity of ideas that I’ve brought into my work (as in my college phase), it is a piece that I do both for the enjoyment of others while maintaining my own spirit (as in my post-college phase), it carries a certain zest of energy and utilizes found materials in the paint (as in my graduate-school phase), and it is a part of who I am and what I want to be (learned from my Connecticut painting).
I guess it is time to put those paintings back in their portfolios and cabinets and move on. But I have a lot of great ideas for new work and exciting projects coming up in 2015. I can’t wait to share them with you!
I hope that you are enjoying the holiday season and have some great projects of your own planned for 2015. Perhaps you can take a look back at some of your own creative work and share how it has influenced where you are now. I’d love to hear about it!