Saturday, January 31, 2009

the art of procrastination

Almost a year ago I had an idea for a series of paintings. They were going to be big (36" x 36") and each would be based on the theme of a different sacred animal to the aboriginal people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. I grew up surrounded by two kinds of indigenous art: the local stuff and the pre-Columbian art of Mexico, of which my mother and grandmother, both of whom grew up in Mexico City, brought examples to Canada. I have explored the ancient Mexican motifs quite a bit so I figured it was time to look a little closer to home. I love this stuff. I also lust after primitive Australian and African art and would be a huge collector if I could.

So, with the best of intentions, I set out to plan my series. I decided to mix it up a bit, with collage elements, stencilled bits and stamps made with lino cutting materials, and employ the patterns and techniques of my other work. So far so good. I also decided to use a geometric division of space, something a little more structured than in previous work+. Last March I started work on a salmon painting. I used Tlingit basket designs for the two fish at the top and a Tlingit wood-carving design for the salmon collage below. Here I am adding collage elements ... and that's just about where it stopped! For the last ten months I have been having staring contests with this:

The important elements were done; I just needed a day or so to tie it all together. But did I ever set aside that day? Apparently not. Anyway, this past week I seem to have stalled out and needed a quick success to jump start me so I dove in again ~ after dusting it, that is! Not sure if it worked yet...

I finished the three unfinished panels in the top two-thirds of the painting then panicked when faced with the bottom panel. So I photographed the painting-so-far and then used that crass crutch known as Photoshop to figure out what to do next. I have repainted areas enough times to finally recognise the value of a little pre-planning. For someone as impulsive as me that's a HUGE step forward! These are the four alternatives I liked best:

As you can see below, I went with the green but darkened it even more. The next question is: will I continue the series? I'm not convinced it would be anything other than an interesting but expensive and time-consuming exercise for me so I haven't decided yet. In the meantime, there are a few dead trees on my painting agenda.

+Even though I abandoned the series before even finishing one painting I did use the spatial division idea in my series of Celtic tree calendar drawings of last summer.


Blogger Michelle said...

well, fabulous art is still fabulous art....

31/1/09 4:36 p.m.  
Blogger annemarie said...

That is beautiful. I have a fondness for fishes, especially given that I live with 2 :)

Thank you for sharing your art. I want to learn how to draw and paint and I just might try it really soon. Thank you again.


31/1/09 7:19 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Yep! The final green was the right choice for the salmon's "sea."

But don't artists know, intuitvely, how the palette should "read"? My 3 Ks enslaved me without photoshop.That said, Picasso may have enjoyed fiddling with it, too!

31/1/09 7:24 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

What a great idea (and big step forward!) to use photoshop like that - brilliant!!!

1/2/09 2:54 a.m.  
Blogger Heather said...

I was just thinking "oh I think I'd go with the green" and then I scrolled down and saw that you went with the green. Nice choice. Great minds think alike!

1/2/09 5:48 a.m.  
Blogger Kikipotamus said...

Beautiful stuff. And it must feel good to get things cleaned out with the garage sale...and gratifying to see so many marked SOLD. Yay!

1/2/09 7:55 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Michelle: Thanks (blush).

Annemarie: Thanks for commenting and if you pick up that pencil again -- drop by again!

Dinah: I'm glad I did the PS experiment because I would've made the wrong choice. Guess I'm not a Real Artist.

Caro: Yeah!!

Heather: You know, it took a bit of time but I kept coming back to the green, too. Guess my experiment worked!

Kiki: Yes, just selling a few pieces makes me feel better on two fronts: storage and getting through January financially.

1/2/09 7:22 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find so striking about this particular painting is that aboriginal fish at the bottom. It has all the workings of said design but with a contemporary leap to the 21st century. Rather than show the fish's innards like the original fishes from Australia, you have given it an almost mechanical structure. Very interesting work. So interesting that if I had done this painting, and I wished I had, I would look into that idea of contemporizing aboriginal art some more.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow's work will look like.

1/2/09 8:28 p.m.  
Blogger Angela Wales Rockett said...

Beautiful! I was kinda wondering whether you were still pursuing this series. I think it's a great idea and deserves further exploration. Maybe, to keep costs down, you could do it on slightly smaller canvases.

2/2/09 11:08 a.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

As you already know, I like this very much and I like Angela's suggestion of pursuing it on smaller canvases. BUT I cannot deny a tiny disappointment that you did not take my advice and mount some form of dead, stuffed cat to this. Had you done so, it would have certainly been purchased by The Tate for it's permanent collection.

2/2/09 2:27 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Onclejohann: Oh no! I can't stand the pressure! :)

Angela: I don't know WHAT to do now. I always say that artist's block is never a problem with me but I'm getting sick of winter and just want to hibernate with a book these days.

Ellen: I thought you meant I should staple my LIVE cat to it! I rejected the idea out of fear of PETA, but a stuffed cat -- now htat's an idea. I'll have to kill her first though.

And if anyone reads this and is wondering what the heck Ellen and I are talking about, check this out:

2/2/09 3:59 p.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

Looks great and effective. And procrastination is a galling manifestation, but look at what you have even now. There's a vulgar saying about procrastination that I won't repeat here, but I think there is a reason why we do procrastinate and it has something to do with fully embracing a project. For me that is true, at least. That is why my great 400 page novel sits at about 150. In fact, I am even afraid to go back to it.

2/2/09 4:25 p.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

The lower fish on the canvas really captures my attention!! I also have projects that I've been thinking about for the past year - maybe some of your motivation will rub off on me...

2/2/09 7:51 p.m.  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

I have been known to take a digital photo of a painting in progress and make numerous prints of it. That way I can draw on them with colored pencils to see which way I want to go. I've also done the same painting a half a dozen times using different color combinations, and voila, a series is born!

4/2/09 7:02 a.m.  
Blogger Peter said...

Pah! Call that procrastination? I have 4 big pieces I've been "working" on for about 15 YEARS!!!!

4/2/09 12:40 p.m.  
Blogger Catnapping said...

The fish on the bottom is stunning. I can't take my eyes off him.

I think green was a perfect choice...I like the depth, I think.

But gotta say something about that fish on the bottom again. He's fantastic. excellent.

4/2/09 1:50 p.m.  
Blogger Hayden said...

wonderful stuff. I echo the comments on the lower fish...

5/2/09 7:05 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ian: I'm afreaid my own relationship with procrastination is more prosaic: laziness and lack of time! :)

Cynthia: And has it..?

Ed: I guess that is one of the nuggets of the series, isn't it? I love Photoshop because I can do the same thing instantly and easily.

Peter: OK, you definitely have me beaten! :)

Catnapping: Why don't I just slice him off, stuff him in an envelope and send him to you? :)

Hayden: If I give Catnapping the fish what can I give you?

5/2/09 12:10 p.m.  
Blogger Hayden said...

(chuckle) let me think....

6/2/09 7:47 a.m.  

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