Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Processing

After being in Europe, the only thing I wanted to do was paint.  Back in my studio a week after the trip, no painting was accomplished! Time and unexpected family obligations were factors, then being taken down by a pretty bad cold but still...I felt like I was creatively stuck. Now I realize there was/is a lot of visual, historical, and cultural information that I needed to process.
Found in an abandoned church in Milan, in the style of Giotto
Cultural/Historical:
To that end I've been glued to a book that I highly recommend to EVERYONE—Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize winning "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel ). It was recommended to me a year ago—the introduction was hard going but once I got into the book itself, it profoundly impacted my way of seeing and experiencing the world and my place in it. It is a systems' view of humanity built on knowledge from such diverse fields as biology, linguistics, and archaeology. For perhaps the first time in my life, I have a context offering answers to questions provoked by my travels and life experiences. Questions on the basic diversity and inequality of existence. These answers can build new solutions.
Life in the townships of South Africa
Josephine Bonaparte's bedroom in Fontainebleau, France 
Visual:
Returning once again to my second story studio, I wasn't sure what I was going to paint. In Vermont I had been struggling with a series of small 6"x 6" paintings of a stone. I'd begun and wiped away discovering a small visual truth. In it I have been intrigued by the process of painting and the ability to portray the opposing truths of solidity and destruction. Purposely I had left the small canvases in Vermont and left myself open to what my trip to Rochester would inspire.

Out my studio window
The magic—I opened my door to see the magnificent blooming of the magnolia outside my window. Though many of Rochester's magnolias had been destroyed by this year's crazy Spring weather, this magnolia was in an enclosed courtyard. The blooms protected just outside my window survived even though many of the tree's other blooms did not do as well.
The magnolia
I began the painting immediately. It has gone through a few stages and a few studies.

Study of magnolia blooms, 12"x12"
The underpainting
And it surprises me. Giotto's heavenly gold, Raphael's Virgin blue, Van Gogh's brushwork, Monet's freedom, and Michelangelo's structure, my subject. Here is where I am today.
detail
detail 
detail
Tree of Life, oil on 12 canvas panels, 48"x36"