Saturday, July 9, 2016

New Work: Essential Elements

Essential Elements
image size 15" x 18" approx
A couple of weeks ago I made a practice collage using leftover bits and pieces from previously finished work. It's like working a puzzle only without having the picture on the box top as a guide. I felt there was enough of an idea in the practice collage to try and make a finished piece.

What really got me going though was the funny blue circle shape that I made. To me, it looks like an omega symbol. That got me started thinking about the line from the bible, "I am the beginning and the end...I am the alpha and the omega..." The quote isn't written verbatim and there are many instances of it appearing in biblical literature. Judaism is my chosen religion and so I thought about the essential statement of Jewish belief, the Shema. I then began thinking about proclamations (made by an angel or person), God's creatures, and the Garden of Eden (snakes and apples). I am a literal person, what can I say, and so it's easy to see what happened here. I'd point out too that in the left hand corner I finally was able to include two Hebrew letters, Aleph and Tav. They also have biblical meaning that is varied and mystical and controversial. I guess that I love stories but not controversy or arguing. I like the idea of a mash up of ideas, if that makes sense, and I like to think that my mash up approach is egalitarian in nature. And in the end I really love my little design and had a good time making it. That's all I actually care about.

So, I sure hope everyone had a good week. I am on to some other things (hopefully). Maybe another practice collage? we'll see!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

New Work: Back in The Day

Back in The Day
image size 15" x 18" 

These last several pieces have all started with a shape or two. Things aren't necessarily driven by a particular idea though my notes on what I have seen and learned are close by for inspiration. Often I have some specific images in mind or maybe even some words. In general though, and except for the color scheme I select, I haven't much of a clue when I start. It's only as I begin to add shapes that the structure begins to form. I wait very patiently (I like to think) for an idea to take hold. When it does, it's fairly amazing. I can literally see in my mind's eye some physical object sort of digging into and taking hold of a kind of ground. Sort of like the road runner cartoons where the coyote has an anchor behind a truck and it drags on the ground until it jams itself into the cement. The truck comes to a halt and the coyote goes flying out of the cab. Sort of like that. 

For this collage I began with the dark blue and dark green shapes. I looked at them and wondered what I was doing exactly. No story emerged until I added the light blue piece and the white squares. The light blue shape reminded me of a screen door. Then I began to think about my grandma's house. The house must be some kind of a touchstone for me because I dream about it; the mental image is very clear. My grandmother had a back deck with one of those dark green plastic overhangs, the kind that are sort of rippled. The deck was gray and the steps led to a long rectangular back yard. She had a loquat tree on the side of the yard. I began to think about that screen door and blueberry bushes (my blogger friend has a blueberry bush). The rest of the imagery all has personal meaning (not private, just mundane). I wasn't sure I could finish it and then I added the black lines. Once those were down, the rest was history as they say.

While making the collage, I thought about whether or not it is possible to have several ideas that are unrelated as the basis for these pieces. The relatedness could be the overall design and color scheme. This way of working interests me because it would allow me to cull my disjointed thoughts into one collage that is cohesive rather than depending on a specific theme to get things started. I wouldn't have to try and pick a theme in advance.  Since subject matter is always a struggle for me, this way of working would be useful.

The last thing to mention is that I am starting to realize that the writing I do about these pieces is nearly as important to me as doing the pieces themselves. I can't wholly explain this but can only say that writing has always been important to me. The drive to write is stronger for me than the drive to make art; writing comes more naturally. But, the writing and the art together somehow is a great combination, supplying me with something that I wouldn't get from either art making or writing alone. 

I hope everyone reading has a good holiday weekend. Be safe.

Sales: Libby Fife Fine Art

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 2016 Wrap Up Post

1. Up in Arms
collage approx size 15" x 18"

2. Downtown
collage image size 15" x 18"

3. Whatever!
collage image size 15" x 18"

4. "Do You Remember?"image size 15" x 18"

Hot, hotter, and hottest! That is the weather report from my neck of the woods and so it must be almost July. Hope everyone has had a nice June. It's time to see what happened this month in my studio. Here goes!

1. Up in Arms: Many artists rely on imagery and ideas that they see every day. I certainly do and for this piece I drew on some of the things that are happening around me. One of our supervisors is embroiled in a recall effort. Our county is experiencing higher than normal traffic and we have had a rash of fires close to us in the last two weeks. Although the piece is personal, I am always interested to know what the viewer sees so don't let me sway you!

2. Downtown: The subject of "town and country" as being opposing places is always of interest to me. For this piece I relied on a sort of cityscape idea to give structure to the piece. The feeling of opposition was brought out in my use of the colors blue and orange, which are opposite colors on the color wheel. I added just a touch of green both for a surprise color and to suggest the idea of a strip of greenery such as a lawn.

3. Whatever!For this piece I experimented with the use of letter stencils. The abbreviations are what I think of as "filler" words; things that people say when they are trying to fluff up a conversation or when they may be at a loss for words. They are a sort of verbal shortcut. I again drew on the opposite colors of orange and blue but made them a little more subdued. Still vibrant but not as colorful as the preceding piece. The letter stencils are very fun to use. Look for them again in upcoming pieces!

4. Do You Remember?: Sometimes a work of art is just pure nostalgia for the artist! Such is the case with this last piece. I drew on my memories of growing up in the East Bay (San Leandro) and tried to make something childlike. Or maybe I should say reminiscent of my childhood! I used imagery that reminded me of board games, sidewalks, bushes, and rose colored glasses of course! As with all the pieces above, this one has a personal narrative involved. And while that is important to me, I also want to know what the viewer takes away. Both viewpoints exist together.

I hope everyone has some vacation time planned or something else fun to do during the upcoming summer months. I'll be doing plenty of hiking, walking and biking. Those activities help me to re charge my "creative batteries." Have to get out early though around here or head up to the mountains. Either way, I am looking forward to the activity. 

Thanks for reading my wrap up posts and if there is a special way that you "recharge", let me know by sending me an email or leaving a comment. Thanks again!

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Work: Up in Arms

Up in Arms
image size approx 15 x 18

At this point, using the skills and knowledge that I have to date, I am fairly sure that I couldn't think up some of these compositions beforehand. They tend to sort of evolve. Given time though, perhaps I can get to the point where I can draw them out prior to getting started.

The above piece was an exercise for me in what I am coming to think of as "stream of consciousness" art making. I first learned about this term in high school as I struggled to read through a James Joyce novel. This style of writing perplexes me; I find it tedious as well. But the term itself, loosely translated by me into something I can use, describes how I put this piece together. During the week, I wrote down things that I observed (actual objects), ideas that came to me, and events that were happening around me. Basic geometric shapes helped me to get started and then I added other shapes based on the semi-related mishmash of things that I gathered during the week. Pretty soon I was telling myself a little story about what was happening on the paper. A title suggested itself and before I knew it, I was finished. It's good for me that most things can be translated in to a shape. It's OK if that translation is known only by me. What I hope is that the viewer, at the very least, finds the design and color pleasing. It's fine for me if people supply their own story.

As I mentioned above, I drew on what was happening this week in order to come up with a composition. Our area of the county is involved in the recall of one of our supervisors. Neighbors discuss things and so I have talked with some people about the recall initiative. We have had a lot of road construction going on and as a consequence, heavier traffic than normal. In addition to these things, we have also had two fires nearby (last week) and in the same spot. We also had a fire at the lake recently. I mention all of this to be sort of small-town-folksy but also because it's just what happened and came out in my art. It's nice for me to have personal subject matter. Things flow more smoothly if I am connected somehow to what I make.

OK, thanks for reading and commenting. I hope everyone has had a good week.

Friday, June 17, 2016

New Work: Whatever! (2); My Art Matches My Sofa...

Whatever! (2)
image size 15" x 18" approx
Should I be ashamed to admit that I made some art to match my living room decor? Well, I did, so there!

I wanted to do a redo of the last piece. The colors were not me. In fact, I have made some questionable color choices lately which I guess is all part of experimenting to figure out what you like and what you want to say. I learned a little bit more about my tolerance level for combining paper and texture. I also enjoyed mixing my colors once again from the primaries. I can make a neutral like nobody's business! Very happy I learned how to do this along the way. There is a real challenge in trying to find just the right balance of dominant color and chroma (saturation). I really enjoy it, I admit. And I was surprised about the choice of that blue color. I had a green color on my mind but nothing I tried seemed to work. For me, that blue was the ticket. 

This week has been hectic. We had our HVAC unit replaced and so the past two days have been stressful because of needing to sequester our indoor cats. The company truck was also parked directly next to my studio window and the unit itself is directly over my studio. It's all a good thing though because while it has been unseasonably cool here, it is getting ready to be very warm. People live here with no air conditioning. I know from my time in our last home though that 100+ temps with no air is incredibly uncomfortable. So, while the installation was stress inducing, I am grateful for the new unit. 

I have some poetry and writing in my sketchbook this week to share. The first is a poem by William Stafford, called Cutting Loose. The second is a quote from writer Diane Ackerman, included in the blog post of Parker Palmer, also a writer. I found both things to be uplifting and wanted to pass that along.

Hope everyone has had a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New Work: Whatever!

approx size 15" x 18"

This piece is hard to photograph-all three colors are difficult by themselves and in combination, forget about it!

At this point it is safe to assume that these collages are fairly accidental. I haven't been setting out with a specific subject in mind. The last one didn't even have a subject! Meaning seems to unfold as I add shapes. One shape suggests another shape and pretty soon I have some sort of a little story going. The little story is often related to something that has happened recently or something that I had stored away in my data bank of a brain (such as it is these days). The results are often unexpected.

What is behind this piece? My husband says it is just random stuff from my mind and he is almost correct! Different things occur to me as I work over a period of several days. Many times these disjointed thoughts begin to come together and to suggest a larger whole. The story for this piece began with the kitchen junk drawer and was prompted by those "XYZ" letters. That drawer is often a catchall for miscellaneous items. The idea of miscellaneous items lead me to people's speech patterns. Conversations are often peppered with "filler" words which are a kind of shortcut used when people can't quite put their mental finger on what it is they want to say. And lastly, I happened to hear a Madonna song as I was driving. Something about a heart and a lock and a key. Everything sort of coalesced into this idea of unlocking things that appear to be a puzzle (such as the meaning of people's sentences sometimes). It's just random but hopefully the design itself is cohesive enough and people can ascribe their own meaning. Oh, and the secondary color scheme was selected for one reason in the beginning but came to mean something else to me. My impression is that people speak on several levels. There is the primary thing they are saying but then there is the idea of what is just underneath their words. The secondary meaning, if you will and hence my own significance of those secondary colors. Crazy but true.

The last thing to mention is that this is an experimental piece. I sanded paper and paint, over painted those letters, re sanded and added more pieces until I felt things were balanced. It's a mix of clean and rough areas which I am not sure about. The whole thing, including the colors, tests my tolerance level. Damn thing is growing on me though so it's hard to say. I don't feel like a "mixed media", let-it-fly kind of person. I am not "gritty" but I really needed to branch off from these clean shapes that can't be touched once they are down. It's a fine way of working but I know that I can add to that. I just need to be careful about what direction I head in. So, we will see.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.

PS-I am in love! And it isn't my husband this time! If I wasn't married I'd hop on a plane to go see this guy. His work delights me (which is a phrase I almost never use) and I would like to crack open his mind to see what makes him tick. Take a look at his work and you will see why I am a smitten kitten!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Work: Easy as 1 2 3

Easy as 1,2,3
collage on Ampersand board 12" x 16"
When trying something new, I want the results to at least have some of my sensibility. I stumbled into the area of layering for the above piece. It's a new concept for me but I think the finished results are Libby-like. And, they show me some possibilities that I have not even considered before.

I started with laying down shapes. This is a typical way to begin. Once I had a sort of under structure down, I took my acrylic pen and made all sorts of gestural and connecting lines. This is not typical! The actions produced a mild sort of panic actually but I realized that I was OK with gessoing over things. Once I did that I sort of began to warm up to those shapes and lines being covered. It suggested things!I freshened things up with some white paint, leaving some areas less painted than others. I like the subtle dimension that the painted shapes give. Then I began to add shapes just like I normally do. I was more selective though than usual, taking care not to add too many small shapes. I then took my new letter stencils and stenciled the letters A, B, and C onto the piece in just three places. (It was at this point that I began humming the Jackson Five song.) Adding the almost black circles was kind of crazy but I like it. I am a cautious and restrained sort of person and so while the above piece doesn't seem crazy, for me I took some small leaps.

The bigger news though for me is the way I started the piece. It is just in my nature to want to have some sort of a guide. A drawing of some sort is best but the danger in that, for me anyway, is being too rigid in sticking to that drawing ;too literal. I used one of my line/gesture sketches to start this piece. It helped me to lay down some initial big shapes. The drawing was just a guide and it took away that feeling of walking on a tightrope without any sort of a net or pole for balance. I don't know what other people think but I don't believe that art making should induce fear and loathing in one when one walks into the studio. Those aren't good feelings. Whatever one has to do to eliminate that is OK with me.

I sure hope everyone is having a good week. Thanks for visiting and commenting.