Monday, November 16, 2015

New Work: Dream State

Dream State
12" x 16" acrylic and painted papers on wc paper
The inspiration for the above piece comes from several sources: my reading and some recent videos that I have been watching as well as some recent news events. California is a complicated state both literally and figuratively. We are excessive in so many ways, running amok since our inception as a state. I had aquifers and the transportation of water in mind as well as what might happen in the event of an earthquake.

It's hard to say if things are getting easier or getting more difficult. This last piece took me about a week, give or take. I was gone several days during that time but still. 

Each time I do one of these pieces I feel like I learn a lot. It's sometimes mentally painful though! I can remember being in school (college-the second time when I managed to finally graduate) and having to write a report or a paper. I loved getting organized, preparing and doing. Step-by-step was how I did things. I was good at it but oh, it hurt! Cost me a lot of mental energy. The way I am working now is very similar. And the process really causes me to think. The picture below of Matisse reminds me of how I feel. Sometimes I do hold my head in my hands and sort of just try to squeeze out the right answers! He looks a little cranky doesn't he?
I frequently feel like this!
What did I learn this time? I learned that there is no right answer and there actually is one right answer! There are probably hundreds of design solutions to whatever questions I am posing. I wait though to see which solution feels like there couldn't be any other solution other than that one. Then I think that yes, there was only one answer all along. The best moments come though when I see something I did and say to myself, "I sure didn't see that one coming!" There is no way that I could have planned for some of the outcomes in my work. There is no serendipity though because honestly, as I said above, every previous move leads to the next move. It's at these moments that I feel most creative. And this just takes time.

I'll say too that I paid much more attention to negative space this time around. All shapes come from somewhere, whether they are representational or not, and looking at the negative spaces created by my other shapes is one such place to draw inspiration. 

The second thing that happened came about from putting my painted papers up on the wall to examine chroma and value prior to cutting and gluing. This worked well. I think it's analogous to trying out colors on your canvas and correcting as you paint.  For the most part it worked well. I didn't catch however how bright two of the colors were that I had originally chosen. I thought they would work but when I got them on the final piece, not so much. So, I abandoned that idea.

The last thing that happened is something that always seems to happen. I have a tendency to add small pieces and details too soon. It comes about if my larger shapes aren't working and it's always a desperate fix. I tried to catch myself this time early on. I really like the idea that every piece is there for a reason and could be a piece all by itself.

OK, I have some ideas brewing about how I use color. I am also starting another piece which is a continuation of this last piece. It's actually a rendition of my original sketch. The above piece deviated quite a bit from my source sketch and so I want to get back to that first idea. Anyway.

Hope the week is off to a good start. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  1. Libby love the shapes as well as the colors. I also can feel movement within the piece. This work has a wonderful cohesiveness. Can imagine the challenge of it all would make one hold their head. In my humble opinion it looks like it was worth it.
    P.S. I spent time cutting up major shapes from so Mr black Stonehenge paper. Will let you know how this works for me. See how you inspire me!

    1. Debbie,

      Ha! I am rubbing off on you! I hope you will show the results of your cutting and anything else that comes of it. That would be fun to see someone else's results.

      Glad too that you said the piece feels cohesive. I strayed from my original sketch, which is fine. My husband walked in the room though and looked at the piece, comparing it to the sketch. His ideas on art are influenced by knowledge of photography so he always wants to know why I didn't follow the sketch! I started another piece today based on that original sketch; I think there is something there too but we will see:)

      Hope that your week is going well so far. I appreciate your visit and comments. I have my fingers crossed for you that your weather is holding up:)


  2. Love the photo of Matisse, and I can readily identify with the look and gesture. Have been there many times. I smiled when you mentioned adding details too soon. That is the bane of all artists, I think. I've read many books and articles on painting and have attended some workshops or viewed instructional DVDs about painting. I don't think there was one that didn't emphasize large shapes first, details last. Doing just that has placed me in some predicaments. I think it's a human tendency to do that -we want to see progress, we are struck with an idea, etc. But, laying in the basics first whether it be collage, paint, drawing and so on and saving the details for last certainly helps the end product be more harmonious and balanced. It's like putting on your swimsuit when you're 200 miles from the lake. Lots can happen before you get there.

    1. Carol,

      Thanks so much for telling me that you have heard the same advice too-not to get to fiddly with the details too soon. And I think it is true no matter of what you are doing really. Large to small is almost always best.

      And I loved the analogy of putting on your swimsuit while so far from the ocean. I can just hear the teacher in you! I am going to be sure to use this one in the near future. I am a cautious person by nature:)

      Thank you again for sharing your insights. It's nice to get all of the help that I can get.


  3. I always make the time to sit and ponder over your blog. No quick in and out for me as far as you and your work is concerned. I think the way you pass on your ruminations is a gift to the art community. I also enjoy the way Carol brings her expertise into it and when I see Debbie as a regular contributor then I know I am in good company.
    Anyway - back to "Dream State" - isn't that the greatest title for a series - or not!!
    I looked at it for quite a while before reading your post. I could see the weaving of the water and land and I even understood the "action part" and was pleased to read I was correct - it was to represent the earthquake,
    Yes - big shapes first. The Guild has been working on design for this semester and that is
    the number one principal - nagged about constantly!
    Another great post Libby. Thank you.

    1. Julie,

      What a wonderful compliment, that you take the time to read what I have written. Thank you! I really try to write about whatever it is that I am struggling with (or having some success with) both so that I can think things through but also in case anyone is reading and the information can be helpful. I always hope someone will be helped in some way. And aren't I lucky to have a small but special crew of commentators? That is something that you don't get everyday.

      And I am glad to hear that some of what I was thinking came through. There's no telling sometimes what someone might make of something I have done. The interpretations are always interesting and enlightening for me.

      I'd sure like to know how the guild members do with the lessons on big shapes first! Honestly, how do you restrain yourself from going small too early? There is just this constant need to be vigilant. I'll say this though even though it seems ridiculous. Each time I step up to my easel to do something I ask myself what is the biggest thing that I can do? Most of the time, I am listening. Sometimes, I ignore myself. It's a very schizophrenic way to work!

      Thank you again for the visit and observations. I hope that the week has been good so far.


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  5. Such wonderful and informative comments you have received. I can hear my instructor saying, large shapes, large shapes.
    When I study this one I am struck by how completely you captured California. This is a celebration of California and we can take it further if we wish. Thank you.

    1. Helen,

      Thank you so much for the visit! I do have great commentators don't I? Very fortunate to always get such good advice.

      I eventually had a good time with this piece and am happy that you see a bit of California in it. Big shapes, big shapes, and big shapes first! If only we always followed our own advice:)

      Thank you again-I appreciate the comments.


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