Here at the studio, I am working on a second tessera canvas. This one … pictured above … is still a work in progress, but is nearing completion.
The work is composed primarily of tessera from one painting that was chopped into pieces and reconfigured into an entirely new image, but it is nevertheless a reflection of the original work. Tessera from other paintings have been added, and like bits of memories that we call on to help us when telling a story, the new bits add depth and interest to the original. So too do the traumas, and joys and grief and love that we experience add color and texture to our memories.
While working on this piece, it was struck by how this image is like my interior vision of myself. I always seem to be stitching together a new version of myself to present to the outside world. Whatever it is I piece together might look solid and cohesive, but is in fact cobbled together with bits and pieces that have washed up on the shore of my life. I would suppose that most people find this to be true. But then again, maybe not. Maybe it is just that I have the time to mull over all this existential dreck while cutting up old canvases.
Summer appears to be over … at least here in New England. Most of my summer was spent visiting with friends, taking day trips, swimming, working on my book project, exercising and eating well.
However, I also spent a good deal of August reorganizing my studio storage space in order to accommodate new works as they come off the easel. It was either that or I was going to have to live in the back of my car. When my show of new works came back at the end of July I had nowhere to store it! So in one memorable afternoon and evening I destroyed 20 or so old canvases that were no longer worth the space they took up. I tossed the old broken stretchers, and in general had a grand ole time.
While making the decision as to which pieces were worth keeping, I also came across several paintings that I felt needed to be developed further. So now my studio is filled with a mix of old and new canvases, as well as the rest of the dreck that lives here on a semi permanent basis … the tape and gloves and papers and sketches, and all the rags and wipes and q-tips that come in handy while painting.
The first one of these earlier canvases to be readdressed is one of my favorites. It was in the show that Ashby and I had this June and July. WATER STRIDERS is quite a large work (48×36) and commanded a lot of attention. However, while it was hanging in the strong light of the gallery this summer, I realized that the upper part of the painting had not been finished with the same nuanced color development that was present in the lower part. So I have reworked the upper part. The result is that the top and bottom are more unified in their technique. At the same time I added a warmer tone to the upper part so that the entire painting has a better balance.Now the cool water reflects the warmer tones of the night sky, and balances the fish and their shadowy underwater world.
The only change to the bottom part of the piece is that I added my signature. It was a bit of an OOPS moment when I found that it was never signed. So altogether a successful rework of a fine piece.
So this is the new form of the old planet series that I started last fall. Since then I have started a second series of fish and their world as our own.
The two motifs, planets and fish, come together in this piece and begs the question … What if space in our world is really no different than that of outer space? In this circumstance, which world is being invaded by whom?
Both fish and planets share a sense of weightlessness that gives them a graceful, and rather surreal quality that is intrinsic to their nature. In our dreams we share that same weightless sense of freedom. But it brings with it some of our other, less reassuring, unease.
In this case the feeling is energizing. not frightening, but there is a sense that that could change at any moment.