Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Stirrings in the studio

An update on my studio doings: It's been just over three months since my father died, and about that length of time since I began experiencing various health problems that have limited my mobility. As wrapped in sorrow and despair as I was for the first few months (May and June), I had no desire to do anything artistic. I decided to let my studio practice go and focus on soothing my broken heart and aching body. I tried many healing modalities, including grief counseling, herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies, reiki, acupuncture, exercise, yoga and meditation, all of which helped. As did plain old-fashioned sobbing whenever necessary.

The best medicine, though, has been getting back to work. I taught two fashion illustration courses in July and am currently in the midst of teaching a two-week course for public-school art teachers. Returning to the classroom has been like balm to a wound, and I am vaguely starting to feel like my old self again.

As the fog is slowly beginning to lift, I've begun to think about how I want to approach my career as an artist, going forward. It seems a fitting time to reevaluate, as the world feels like a different place without my beloved father.

I'm thinking that I no longer want to work abstractly. I enjoy the curling lines that have been my focus for so many years, but I'm wondering about working representationally and from observation. These ideas are still fleeting thoughts that pass through my mind and seem to keep on going. Gone are the definite plans I used to have about what I wanted to paint. I know I'm not interested in continuing on the exact artistic path I was on, but I'm not sure yet what the new path will be, or even might be.

So I've decided to purchase a traditional black hardbound sketchbook and start roughing out various possible images as they come to me, regardless of what they might include. I'm going to give myself as much time as I need, even if it takes all of the upcoming fall season and beyond, to create anything more substantial than sketches in my book. This is a pivotal time in my life, and I want to make sure I feel all the emotions I need to feel before I rush back to full-time art-making.

Today I did a few little sketches (below), based on a Wayne Thiebaud painting of a woman's evening dress hanging on a hanger. I'm thinking of possibly turning to some kind of clothing imagery in the future, to be developed into paintings and larger sizes. I'm intrigued by the way items of clothing represent a person's identity, even when the wearer is no longer present. (Not a surprising direction for someone who has just lost a parent.)

We'll see. For now, I'll just make simple line drawings on bound pages whenever the urge hits, and see what comes up and out.

Many thanks to all the kind friends who have supported me through this difficult time in my life.


Thombeau said...

So glad you're feeling better and moving forward. Sounds like you've made the right steps. Life will always remind us to take care of ourselves!

Also, it seems appropriate and right that you're taking your work in another direction. In doing so, you're honoring the transition you've been going through and embracing this latest phase in your unfolding. Where it will lead, who can say? But trusting the process -- like trusting Life itself -- brings its own rewards.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you for writing, Thom. Sometimes trusting is the hardest thing ... and yet, we have no other choice!