Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New Work: Epicenter

Epicenter12" x 16" acrylic and painted papers on wc paper

This piece should be called "Flailing Around" or "How Unsure of Myself Can I Be?" or how about "How Did I get Here Anyway?" Maybe even, "My Tendency Towards Suprematism!"

Late last month I finished reading a book by Philip Fradkin titled The Seven States of California. One of the chapters deals with earthquakes, faults and the coastal area of western CA, from north to south. I became very taken with his description of Mission San Juan Bautista which was built directly on a fault line (for reasons of accessing a water source). It seemed incredible to me. When the above book was finished, I moved on to another book called Assembling California, by John McPhee. This book was quite over my head in some parts but generally, it deals with the geology of California's land. More earthquakes and natural phenomenon. I kept picturing fault lines running up against each other, massive portions of land colliding, and geologic change occurring over millions of years. Impossible to wrap my mind around that at all. Nevertheless, I decided to make a piece dealing with fault lines.

My original design was just a starting point from which I quickly deviated. The lines were some of the first elements added which turned out to be the wrong way to go. These paper pieces are easier to compose if you start with the biggest moves first. The ability to see from large to small, from general to detailed, and in layers is becoming really important. It's much different from how I learned how to paint which is more like paint-by-numbers. I generally paint one area at a time, knowing in advance about value and color because I have worked to lay them down initially until I get what I want. Each part is still dependent on the whole, no matter how you start. And knowing your process is proving to be important also. 

At this point I am done and don't quite know how to feel. I have gotten a long way away from where I started at the first of the year and in general, what I admire about simplicity. I keep coming back to the idea of saying more with less. Do I need to rethink that and learn more about it? Is that what I want to gravitate towards? Does it match my personality? (At this point, anyone left reading is probably laughing. Me? Brief? Right! I can be direct though which is probably a better descriptor of what I want for my art.)

I include all of the above because I guess I am treating the blog these days as an adjunct to my sketchbook which contains my thoughts on my process, my reading, and sketches of course.

Lastly, I read several articles last year featuring Linda Geary, a Bay Area artist and professor whose work I admire. In one of the articles, she mentioned that many students are simply afraid to fail in their studio; they don't push their work far enough to find out what is what and what they are all about as an artist. (I am just paraphrasing what she said.) I am really starting to wonder now about this idea. My work this year is different but still very conservative. Am I pushing enough and learning enough? 

OK, hope everyone is having a good week. It is hot here still. Unbelievable.
Thanks for reading and commenting.


  1. That is one successful piece because I certainly feel movement looking at it.
    Regarding "pushing" - Gosh, Libby - ever since I have followed your blog I have seen you experiment and push yourself. Your knowledge base is even broader now so I expect you will be trying more sophisticated techniques and viewpoints.
    Human nature does come to play and by nature some people are daredevils and I expect they are the sort to throw blood onto something and declare it a new artform!
    I sense a strong intellectual nature coming through you Libby, and as all pushing still has to be from the heart I think throwing "whatever" is not your style.
    I have really enjoyed following your adventures with your art and never been bored.

    1. Julie,

      How do we escape thinking that we don't know what we are doing or where we are headed? A feeling of conviction can be hard to come by!

      I don't know that I am ever going to just react emotionally to something and have that translate to art. Never say never though I suppose. It's probably important though to recognize how your personality functions and to ride in that groove as best as possible while still testing boundaries. I look around at other art and while I appreciate it, I have to remember that the results are almost always someone's own unique response. I feel like I am directly looking at someone's personality and experience by viewing their artwork. It's all food for thought:)

      Thanks as always for the visit and observations. I always come away with some insight after reading your comments:)

  2. Hi Libby! I really like this piece!!! I loved it when you were doing collages!! Hope all is well with you!

  3. This is one of my favorites on two levels, Libby. First, I have lived through enough earthquakes in Washington State and California that I can envision the topsy-turvy vision you've created. Kind of a "coming--at-you" from all directions kind of thing. But, your explanation helped me conceptualize the intellectual part - the facts of, reasons for and enormity of such occurrences. I hope when this one is purchased that the buyer will have some of the information here about your motivations for this piece and your process in fulfilling it. It means so much more than just the colors, shapes and layout.

    1. Carol,

      Thank you for telling me that the work can be enjoyed on two levels-that actually really helps me quite a bit. I have a sense that it is important to make the work stand on its own, visually, regardless of the backstory. But, there always is a backstory! At least with me, anyway. And I always seem to want to share that with people. My approach is different I guess than artists who make art to deliver a message that is readily apparent upon viewing the artwork. The whole idea of composition and message (how they can stand together or be separate) is interesting to me. I wonder if it would be helpful to include a short paragraph with the pieces so that if they were sold, the buyer might have something to refer to.

      As always, I really appreciate your insights. They are always helpful tidbits that I can tuck away for later and access as needed!

      PS-I didn't think of Washington state as having earthquakes but was I ever wrong about that! Just some cursory research turned up some very scary stuff. Wikipedia link here if you are interested.


    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puget_Sound_faults

      sorry! My link earlier didn't take!

  4. Dear Libby~ I am catching up with you friend. I think this piece is wonderful. Great portrayal of the feel of those fault lines. Libby one of the things I love when I visit is your sharing of thoughts behind your art. It adds a special dimension to your work. Hopped over to Linda's site. Her work is inspiring. Thank you for a great post.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it! I reply back in an email if you are signed in and I can see your address. Otherwise I will post the reply here under your comment. I tend to cut and paste my emails too so that others can experience the back and forth which I think is integral to blogging.