A Year of Awkward Breakthroughs

My end of the year studio rituals this year have consisted of shifting piles around, reconfiguring tables, photographing artwork and gearing up for new projects. One strategy I’ve found increasingly useful in my studio practice is taking a day to archive the past year’s artwork as a means for planning what’s next.  I discovered while photographing work to be archived on my website that my cut paper pieces look way more textured and rich when I photograph them with side lighting (early morning or late afternoon sun).  I spent several hours today re-photographing my series from this year, and I really think it makes a difference! I’ve included a few of these re-photographed works in this post.

I also met with my dear friend and curator Demetri Broxton about a show we’ll be putting together of my work in 2014 in Berkeley (stay tuned for more details soon).  I’m looking for a way to exhibit my  representational acrylic paintings with my  abstract cut paper pieces together.  For several years now, I’ve been worried about the two bodies of work being too disparate and distant from each other to relate well, but with the encouragement of my two critique groups (Artists Engaged and CCA Alumni) I’m determined to include both sides of my art making personality in my next exhibit.  Maybe I’ll even include some drawings! I was inspired recently by seeing the David Hockney show at the DeYoung Museum … I was amazed by how many different ways he works, but his point of view on the world is evident whether he’s doing iPad drawings, huge oil paintings or video.

Authors do it too! As I become a more attentive reader, I’ve noticed that authors have certain overarching themes in their work, no matter how much their subject matter varies. Haruki Murakami’s characters, whether believable or surreal, have both an attraction to and repulsion from being alone. Tananarive Due takes on questions of race and gender in contemporary society, while also imagining the various pitfalls an immortal person might face.  Literature, particularly speculative fiction, has played a big role in my art-making this past year.  I found that being enraptured by a story helped keep me focused when I’d otherwise wander off and get distracted by technology. In my 2013 gallery, each piece in my has an audiobook pairing that helped me power through the hideous iterations my artwork took before it arrived at a place of satisfaction.

My cut paper pieces of the past six months were particularly frustrating. I can’t remember a time when I’ve had so many pieces sitting my in my studio unfinished, while I wait for them to speak to me and tell me what they need. Each year that I accrue more heavy paintings that take up space and may or may not find a home other than my own, I find myself feeling more “responsible” that I’m bringing another object into a crowded world, and it better be worth the space it takes up. My creative process has become slower, contains more battles, but hopefully more successes.  Gone are the days when I would crank through paintings just to get my wild anxiousness out.  I’m learning to stick with them through the anxious and awkward stages and trust that each piece I make is really worth getting it right.

As the Armada Passed Our Final Inspection, cut paper, acrylic and colored pencil on paper, 22" x 30" 2013
As the Armada Passed Our Final Inspection, cut paper, acrylic and colored pencil on paper, 22″ x 30″ 2013
Emblem for Surprise, acrylic, cut paper, photo collage on panel, 23″ x 23″
Emblem for Surprise, acrylic, cut paper, photo collage on panel, 23″ x 23″
Dispatching a Slapdash Quarantine, cut paper, acrylic, photo collage on panel, 20″ x 20″
Dispatching a Slapdash Quarantine, cut paper, acrylic, photo collage on panel, 20″ x 20″