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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Process & Documentation: Part I

Ok.  Let's talk about process.  Where does it even begin?  One of the questions artists get asked most frequently is, "How long does it take for you to make a painting?"  I usually respond from the practical end, which is, "I usually work on multiple pieces at a time because who wants to sit around waiting on paint to dry?"  But the more important thing is that it keeps the energy fresh and is more efficient and comprehensive.  Of course it produces more paintings to work in series, but it also allows for a more thorough examination/exploration of a single idea.  For example, if I work on a painting, then move on to another, and then come back to it in an hour or so, chances are I have a fresh perspective.  At least this is how my mind operates.  This manner of working on multiple pieces simultaneously also creates an opportunity to explore more of the infinite possibilities.  Like the choose your own adventure books.  Well, not really.

But enough about that. The true answer to the question is that it took thirty-five years to make that painting.  I am not being facetious or philosophical. However, I still do not think this is really what people want or expect to hear.  And I get that, I do.  But it doesn't change the fact that this is the truth. 

As I was creating the pieces for an upcoming show, I found myself wanting to document the process.  Actually, I am finding myself wanting to document things in general right now.  Maybe because for the past ten years or so, I have not been a diligent documenter--at least not in the traditional sense.  I used to be.  I used to document a lot--in the form of writing, sketching, clipping, photographing, and so on.  Mostly "insignificant" moments, which have the capacity to convey more truth than any "occasion."  And I love going through my old sketchbooks that are bulging at the seams.  Why don't I keep a sketchbook any more? At first I thought that there is simply less time to do so, I am in a different place in my life, more going on, blah, blah.  But that is not true.  Really, my whole life is documented, not only in the paintings that I create, but in other, less literal (and possibly more informative and meaningful) ways.  This blog is my new sketchbook.  My dishwasher is, too (you'll see, keep reading...).  And my iPod. Especially the iPod. For me there is a strong connection between music and memory.  You know how an album or a song can take you straight back to a certain place and time in your life?  This is big for me personally because I listen to a lot of music every day in the studio, and therefore music is another means of documentation (unconsciously, but still). I make a lot more actual paintings now, too, so seeing a body of work, or sometimes a specific painting I made in the past can have a similar effect.

Moving on.  I got one of those little white Fuji cameras that shoots out the little credit card sized photos (a la the Polaroid days).  I love it.  I rarely take the time to print out any of my thousands of digital pics, but this camera I leave on the kitchen counter, and when something worth $1.50 happens....bang!  Instant forever.  Plus we love writing little notes on the tab in an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie. (We super love Sharpies.)

This is my happy dishwasher.  Stupid refrigerator.

So, here are some in situ shots of the initial process of creating the body of work for an upcoming exhibition in San Francisco.  I am excited about the show and even more excited about the process because it is a departure from my norm.  I needed that.  But the work still draws from that same nest in my head of organic forms and composition and response to things tactile. I am not entirely comfortable posting these images on a blog for all the world to see.  Not sure if this is a good idea, and it feels...a little exposing. Or something.  But who cares.

* The Lucky Bucket [Circa 1998]

Ok. I can't write anymore.  I am not done on the subject, but I will complete this thought later.  I don't mean to be rude, y'all, but my head hurts.  I think I need new glasses.  You've had enough for one day, too?  Ok, great :) 


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