In process: new grounds

After two weeks of chaos and destruction, I’ve wrung more space out of my studio. The plaster dust and nails are swept up, and I’m at last able to move forward on the 20 16” x 16” panels I’d prepped a ways back. 

In the images here, I’ve manipulated Fiber Paste, Clear Granular Gel and Hard Molding Paste with a variety of mark-making tools, looking for spaces and energies that feel right. When my engagement wanes, or when something big seems to happen, I set the panel aside as done, and move on to the next. The whole session took about 90 minutes for the six pictured here, and three more besides.

I purchased the panels thinking to make busts, head-and-shoulders portraits of inner people. I began drawing the Evangelists in search of those images. Later I thought they might be portraits of actual people–of Albuquerque actors, say. Then they became a screen for images of crows and cranes in flight. Or possibly more New Mexican landscapes. At this point, I’m acknowledging that I just don’t know exactly what they’ll become. 

Something about the crows and cranes liberated these panels from having to know what the point is. It’s a bit like taking flight, this new-moon moment of building soil without knowing what I’ll plant. Though it’s a lot of unknown to carry, I’m comforted by the familiar progression of painting: I will be building up a gessoed ground, then an underpainting, for quite some time with these beasts. I imagine that I’m building a sky for the crows and cranes to fly on, or earth for a landscape to grow out of. It feels good to release myself from a planned progression for the time being. 

Interesting to have a body of work–months of growth and failure and rebirth, months of process and practice– that fits into a single cubic yard.

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