Hello friends, family, and fans,
I have been taking a break from blogging since I started teaching art classes and my posts have been somewhat irregular. It’s partly a result of not having much spare time to write, and also because I haven’t made much new work lately. But now I have something new to share! I have finally begun working on a new series of portraits based on the human condition, which I have been working on and off for quite some while. This new piece focuses on psychological needs for belonging, shelter, etc., which are expounded upon by Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs, and features self-portraits of me at different life stages, based on family photos. The oldest figure was one that I had to imagine though since I have not gotten to the senior citizen stage yet. These sketches are preparation for an oil painting I hope to get started on soon! Below is the artist statement which explains the inspiration behind this work. Thanks for reading!
Artist Statement: Constructed Realities
How does an idea for a painting get born? For me, it derives from a memory, hearing a song lyric that resonates with me, reading a poem that lends itself to narrative or visiting an inspiring art exhibit. This series of paintings focuses on the connection between the human condition and stories described in the written word, through poetry and song lyrics, and other sources such as psychological theories. For example, these works may describe a feeling, a memory, a season, or the human condition, such as a search for love, broken relationships, and homes, uncertainty, belonging, stages of life, nostalgia about one’s childhood, etc. Using symbols such as rainbows, pregnancy, desert landscapes, storms, and ravens, and houses, I tell visual tales in oil and pastel paintings. In addition, I use muted color schemes to keep the focus on the content of the artwork and not the color. The subjects of this series are my favorite subjects to draw, including the human figure, portraits, animals, and landscapes, which I have previously explored in other paintings.
Two things have sparked this visual storytelling theme. The first was an art class that I took at Frederick Community College several years ago. In January of 2015, I took a drawing course at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD. One of the final assignments I tackled was to illustrate a poem of my choice using pastels. A major challenge in this assignment was to find a poem that had some concrete images to illustrate. I chose Robert Frost’s poem, Ghost House, which has an abundance of concrete imagery. The first lines of Frost’s poem, Ghost House, griped me with an intense visual impression: “I dwell in a lonely house I know, that vanished nearly a summer ago, and left no trace but the cellar walls…”
The second inspirational spark was learning about art journals and mixed media artwork. A new trend in popular culture is the concept of the art journal, in which the artist writes and illustrates specific things, feelings, seasons, etc., often in mixed media materials. According to mixed media artist, Dina Wakely, art journaling is a way to express your emotions through imagery and text, and no specific rules need to apply to this process. Like Dina, I find that creating narrative art can be a meaningful process, either to express difficult emotions or memories. This new series is entitled Voices and Visions. It was inspired by poetry that includes verses written by Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot, among others. Memories, feelings, and desires have also inspired this series.