Thursday, March 14, 2013

Points on Time

Points on Time
Six pieces / 10x13 each
Grass, minerals, dirt, berries, dandelions

"I like to think of landscape not as a fixed place but as a path that is unwinding before my eyes, under my feet."
– Gretel Ehrlich

A key geographical question throughout the human experience has been, "Where am I?" In classical Greece and China, attempts were made to create logical grid systems of the world to answer this question.  But it wasn't until the middle ages that the latitude and longitude system was developed and implemented. This system is written in degrees, using the symbol °. 

These ten newly completed works represent an attempt to discover my sense of place through landscape. Place is latitudinal and longitudinal within the map of a person's life.  It is temporal, spatial and personal.  A layered location replete with human histories and memories, place has width and well as depth.  Having returned to the U.S. after living in Germany, and having moved several times in the past 5 years, I have become increasingly aware of my desire to connect to a specific location.  Working with raw materials from my local landscape and visually interpreting it represents a starting point for understanding my environment.  The awareness of my immediate physical surroundings marks my current time along a continuing path.

at Lilify, Monterey through April.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PROCESS : Points on Time

Prior to my showing of 6 new works in Monterey on March 2nd, I headed out with my daughter Paloma to work on one of the pieces.  This particular "drawing" took me 2 days using clay, grass, dirt, and berries.  We collected the materials and then I ground them into pigments using a mortar and pestle.  I used a small piece of wood as a quill to finish the drawing on watercolor paper.  Happy with the way this turned out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another attempt

Time is running short, so the next day I head out again, this time up a remote trail in the hills of Napa. I find a spot in the long grass overlooking a bluff and decide to make this my studio for the day.  I collect moss from a tree, grass and scrape reddish minerals out of a damp rock.  I've changed paper and gone with a heavy watercolor variety which should help to speed the drying time.

Ground up, I'm pleased with two of the mixtures.  Turns out moss does not translate well to pigment of any kind.  I may use this as a sort of binder for the other pigments.

The first shapes are applied with the grass which picks up the dirt particles and separates in an interesting way on the paper.

Ok, this is going better.  It's much warmer so the pigment is setting faster.  It's a lovely spot with no one around and as time passes, I find myself more aware of the natural sounds and smells around me.

Hours have passed and it's coming along.  I'll search for dandelions to make yellow and small purple berries I spotted on the way up to hopefully mix a shade of blue.  This is will be first piece of the six natural works in the show.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

New Works

I have a show coming up the first weekend in March in Monterery at Lilify.  For the past two months, I've been working on new pieces for the show.  Six of them will be new works on paper using only natural elements created on site in varying locations around Napa Valley.  The show is titled Points on Time and the work deals with locational identity, the mapping of time, and my wrestling with my current place and surroundings.  

This is my first attempt at working outside with only natural materials.  I take grass and put it into a small bowl and grind it into a green liquid with a pestle. I try using a paintbrush initially to apply the pigment, but don't like what I am getting.  I decide to use the grass directly as a brush and the results are more natural and accidental.

After applying the first pigment, I pick up some mud and dirt buried under the grass and mix it with the grass.  This mixture is applied directly to the paper and green pigment is added to the composition in spots.

Adding the green pigment back in creates some interesting lines and textures that represent what I'm looking at.  The experience of struggling with the materials – finding them, physically grinding them and then applying them with my hands is very tactile and the process speaks to the struggle of me dealing physically with this place and land.  

It is late in the afternoon and the sun is going down. It's getting dark and I'm getting cold.  My hands are freezing and dirty.  The light is changing rapidly as I wait for the paper to dry.  It's going to be a while and there's an element of patience built in where I can't rush the process.  I have to let the materials function as they are supposed to without my interference.  It occurs to me that I have applied too much liquid pigment to the paper and there is no way it will dry in time.  I realize I am going to have to attempt to carry the work about 3/4 of a mile to the car or I will be out here until 9pm.  

Unfortunately, the transportation of the piece over hills and down trails caused the delicate pigments to shift and blur and now the piece is a muddy wash.  I'm not sure I was going to be able to use this anyway, but it is now officially a study.  Chalk it up to experience.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Unbearable Lightness of Art

It's been quite a hiatus from posting; we had an extended rough patch dealing with illness from late December on.  Getting back to it now, preparing for a show in Monterey in March and starting to write again.  More on this soon.  In the meantime, here's a link to a great article on e-flux by Dieter Roelstraete on the nature of making art in our modern world.

On the Unbearable Lightness of Art