Tuesday, November 26, 2013

at work in the studio


The fall is giving way to winter here in Maryland. On days like today, the sky is grey, the rain drizzles and the cold turns the water drops on branches into ice. On other days, the sun shines but it gives more light than warmth. The leaves are still dropping off trees. Sometimes they leave the tree gently. There is a decisive moment when the leaf lets go (or is it the tree that lets go?). Sometimes a gush of wind makes the separation a forceful one, sending leaves off trees with a whoosh. It's lovely to see the seasons change. And from my studio window it looks even more lovely. I always thought that the rain was best enjoyed in the comfort of your home with a cup of coffee in your hands. The winter in Maryland takes this idea to quite another level. I love winters and the prospect of walking around with layers of sweaters and jackets. But the joy of sitting indoors and looking out at a wintry world is unparalleled.

Other than enjoying the winter, I've been spending a lot of time in the studio the last couple of months. For the most part, I've been working on a new body of work - a new set of paintings and drawings. I am enjoying doing the work immensely. The great thing about doing abstract work is that you are always surprised. The way I've been working is such that I don't have a plan (see this post about working without a plan). So I work - looking, adding, subtracting, searching and changing - until I come to the point where the composition comes together. Arriving at this point is such a thrill because you don't really plan on getting to that exact place. You can't plan how certain marks, splashes, drips etc will interact with each other. You always stop in your tracks, and for me that seems like the best way to work.

I've also been reading in the studio. These days it's the work of John Cage that I've been reading about. First I read 'Where the Heart Beats - John Cage, Zen Buddhism and the Inner Life of Artists' by Kay Larson. Now I am reading 'Musicage: Cage Muses on Words, Art, Music', which is a series of conversations between John Cage and Joan Retallack. Both books are very interesting and thought provoking. Sometimes I read fiction, but I usually keep fiction for the evening.

Writing is another thing I do when in the studio. Sometimes I write before I start painting. It allows me to quieten down. Writing also helps to gain clarity. Sometimes putting things down on paper is all it takes to really see something. But usually I write because I have a thought and I want to explore it. And when I write I use a pen and a diary. I'm not a typer-writer really.

The painting, reading and writing, all happen in the studio. Here they all come together, one flows into the other. Sometimes when there is a lull in drawing or painting, I look to writing or reading to refresh me. But you know, sometimes just sitting doing nothing is good too. At that time it's the studio itself that provides inspiration. The easel, paints, brushes, inks and pencils present a scene full of possibilities. I have on the walls a few of my works, a linocut and a monoprint. On the table and windowsill I have my collection of leaves and stones and such. And of course there is always the window to look out from.

I'll end here with some photographs I took this morning in the studio. Enjoy!