I am now officially off topic; the only lettering in this painting is my monogram. It was a guilty pleasure to paint something without thought or concern about a text, my own or anyone else’s. The painting measures approximately 23″ x 23″. I built and assembled the stretcher bars by hand, then stretched and primed the canvas myself. I do find that years of calligraphic study inform my brushwork, and I think the key to my full enjoyment of the medium of acrylic has been in learning how to use glazes.
One of this semester’s ongoing projects has been to keep a sketchbook specifically for painting exercises. We were encouraged to choose the format ourselves, and after much indecision, I decided to organize my studies on half sheets of watercolor paper (15″ x 22″) and figure out how to bind them later. I have always kept studio diaries and sketchbooks for my own purposes, and usually just buy blank ready-mades, so I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this assignment. I thought to do a cutwork version of my monogram on the cover because the black cover and binding style were making it difficult to tell which side of the sketchbook was which. Then I thought to paint a reverse monogram on the first page, which precisely lined up with the cutwork one. I might unbind the sketchbook and add on to it for the second half of the term, or I might just make another one, either similar to this one or perhaps completely different.
This painting combines a number of elements. Our class was assigned the task of doing a color analysis of paintings by two different museum artists. I chose Klimt’s The Swamp and Whistler’s Crepuscule in Flesh Color and Green: Valparaiso. We were then asked to choose five colors from each of the two palettes, and, using similar subject matter from one of the artists and one painterly move from each, create an 18″ x 24″ painting on a wood panel. As if I didn’t have enough to juggle, I decided, as scribes are wont to do, to add a poet to the mix. I selected Neruda’s poem from The Sea and the Bells which begins “Port, this port of Valparaiso”, though the reference photo for my piece was taken in Grand Marais, MN.
The reference photo for this painting was taken by my husband while he and his friends were on a fly fishing trip in Montana. This was an exercise in pattern and texture for painting class, and we were warmly encouraged to stray from photorealism. It is too early to say whether or not this might be an emerging style for me. I am still trying to find my calligraphic way in the medium of acrylic, which frankly often feels like I’m painting with glue. I have been enjoying the possibilities of the medium, particularly sgraffito, though not without pangs of missing certain qualities I associate with watercolor and gouache. The text fragments, used with kind permission, are from my husband’s diary. The painting measures 16″ x 20″.
Today I bundled up and hiked down the hill. The Kinnickinnic River is spring-fed and still has open water. I don’t know yet how I’ll paint what I felt today as I rounded a bend and watched the silent flight of cold geese landing in the mists, but I wanted to share these photos taken in extreme conditions.