Journey to a Painting
Each Lifestyle Art Project begins with dislocation from home, language, and the comfort zone of my studio. Bombarded by new sensations, it can all be overwhelming at times. This could explain why I lean toward an intentional disorientation. In order to heighten my awareness of Here & Now, I let go of searching for meaning and instead allow my fresh eyes to take in The Artful Place of This Moment, wherever that place may be.
Travel observations build to a meditative absorption. Rather than a distinctive style, I pride myself in a chameleon-like willingness to adapt to my collaborators and my surroundings. The resulting abstractions evoke the culture and spirituality of a place through my admittedly fragmentary perspective.
At the Forbidden City in Beijing, I saw young soldiers with Mao over their shoulders. Shanghai was growing so quickly that buildings appeared to spring up overnight, and every power line seemed to be an endless coil of wires. Writing was everywhere in many forms, especially in Hangzhou where I witnessed a man writing exquisite, ephemeral calligraphy using a stick with a round sponge tip dipped in water. The Chinese application of seals resonated with my use of rubber stamps over the past twenty years.
I had already done some paintings large and small, when I got the idea of using a simple cotton mop as a brush. Mixing water and acrylic paint, I dipped the mop and swept across the large canvas. Too much paint in the mop. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Several strokes later I was frustrated, ready to give up the idea but instead placed a pair of slightly smaller canvases on the floor and gestured with the paint-loaded mop. Knowing when to stop, being smart enough to stop, is always tricky. Adding the gold, green, red imperial color scheme in hard lines at the bottom plus seals and stamps, and this was deemed Stroke. But what of that first attempt with the mop? Could I salvage that canvas?
I was at the end of my trip to China, and I was sorting through my feelings on a conscious level, and, at the same time, subconsciously I was connecting the green uniforms of the young soldiers with the tangled power lines and my tangled emotions. On a couple sheets of paper, I tested my green mix, and then switched back to the large canvas with the aborted mop strokes. Adding the green somehow led me back to the pink walls of the Forbidden City and it all swirled together to form Dis-Connect. The test sheets attracted a mixture of acrylic paint and watercolor pencils, blurred with my wet fingers, and ultimately became the smaller diptych Beijing Wave. These three abstract paintings—each separate yet connected—are bound together through the inspirations of a China travel experience.