Tuesday, April 7, 2020

From My Brain to the Paper

I know many great artists create art differently than I do when working in a series. For me there is always learning, investigating and looking for new source material.  I like to dig into the idea and let my brain sort out what I can envision to paint a particular message.  Of course, I create other kinds of art that are painted more quickly,  perhaps less idea driven, but there is a great enjoyment for me to put content and information into a piece.

Teach Me: Liberia
For the past year or so I have been fleshing out my Teach Me series. The flame that lit the torch was reading articles about countries around the world where the percentage of girls receiving opportunities to be educated is tremendously low. As a retired educator, I know that education leads the entire society out of poverty, unwanted pregnancies, and independence.

And so began my paintings featuring fabrics and art, plus a bit of geography from a part of the world where education is very limited for females. The hand reaching for the infinity symbol comes from years in the classroom seeing students' hands spring up in eagerness to share information.

Not long ago, it came to me that there is another group of undereducated girls right under my nose, our unsheltered population. But how would I paint that story?

I began filling in my various ideas with photographs. I drove around Eugene looking at the tents, carts, as well as the people who have no roof over their heads. I asked my granddaughter (she's 18) to come with me to talk to some of the unsheltered. I figured she would seem less of a stereotype than I would on my own. I asked if I could take photographs and engaged in some surprising conversations. At the end of our meetings, I gave out $5 Safeway cards as a thank you for their time. I photographed graffitied walls and bridges as well. Then I printed them all out and started to see the painting take shape in my head.

What I wanted to paint gave me pause. Could I do a decent job of painting a tent and grocery cart overflowing with one person's vital belongings? I ended up doing something that is rare for me, I painted a study of just that portion before putting it on the paper.

Tent and cart study

The study was not perfect, but I could see that I could do it and would be able to pull it off in a better fashion on the full sheet. Next was creating the cement wall where the graffiti would be painted.

Concrete illusion

I use a blue film to block off areas I want to protect. In this case, it was a figure spray painting--my granddaughter posed for this--and the grocery cart. I then used matte medium on burlap to create a great texture that would convey concrete for my graffiti to cover.

Slowly I started painting the real stuff, tent, cart, graffiti.

Too neat

When I checked in with my friend, Kathy Tiger, she said, it's way too neat. Where's the litter, how about some drips of paint?

Almost done

I wanted to add an urban background behind the wall. Houses? Apartments? The winning choice was industrial. Then all that was left was the figure.

I would love to get your feedback regarding this piece, my process, or whatever you might have to say about my art. 

Stay Home-Stay Healthy in this crazy time!

1 comment:

Ruth Armitage said...

I love seeing these ideas memorialized in paint. When folks look back at our society and times, they will know what you were thinking about! Such an important subject!