The Warmup

“Pre-game Warmup”, © Patricia Steele Raible, Mixed Media on Board, 36″ x 12″

Baseball is still on the brain as well as the color purple. You see we are moving. What’s the connection you may wonder. Well, renovation, and buying and selling houses has gotten to be too much. So, of course, I turn to art to soothe my mind and purple because it’s a diversion. And baseball comes in because  I am warming up for the big game—the move—and I want to be sure I’m ready.

Are We Ever Ready

Warming up is very important to both baseball and moving because you use muscles and joints in forward-backward movements. You may be jumping, twisting, or making forward lateral movements (hopefully), and according to the experts, it is important that your body be prepared.

Experts also advise arriving early, familiarizing yourself with the field and the equipment. Then they suggest stretching since your muscles will really get a workout. A few sprints (can I skip this one) they say will increase blood flow in the muscles. Okay, okay I’ll do a few.

It’s Always the Hip Flexors

Then there are the knee lifts which loosen the legs and hip flexors for better motion and movement. Squats (please no) they tell us will loosen up your ham strings, quads, and glutes. They even want you to add a few arm crosses. Finally, they suggest playing catch and fielding. Now they say you are ready for the game. I’m ready for a nap.

Soon But Not Yet

Luckily the move is not yet, but they keep telling me it’s just a few weeks away. I’ve had to pack up the brushes and paint (a bummer.) I am telling myself that collage in my journal will be perfect—just what I need, planning time.

“Pre-Game Warmup” is the last one on the easel for now, a companion to “Home Run.” When I first stood back and looked at it hard, I couldn’t tell if the game had started. Perhaps the bases were all loaded, and we desperately needed a hit. Or, did we need the third out?

Oh, well. You decide. You’re playing too aren’t you?

When Technology Goes Bonkers

An abstract collage painting called "Earthshine" shows line, texture and some color though not perfect taken with my smart phone.
I took this photograph of “Earthshine” with my telephone (not an iphone). It’s not what I would use for a juried show, but it’s fine for sharing. It shows texture and line—though the color is bit off. I love the ability to see what it’s going to look like when it’s finished.

How do we respond as artists when the technology we have been depending on goes a bit…well haywire? While most of my artwork is done by hand, the old-fashioned way, I do depend on my computers, various programs, and my printer.

When You Least Expect It

This morning I watched my husband as he dealt with the Bluetooth in our car. He said he was riding along when suddenly the Bluetooth announced that it was changing the language to French. He swears he pushed no buttons and even tried to fix it by calmly asking the “French woman” to change the language back to English. Instead, he got a terse, “Pardon?”

It was not quickly resolved. Even with manuals, the internet, two telephone calls to different car dealers, and a plea to a daughter fluent in French, no one could offer much help (though the daughter offered a few choice words he could say in French when it didn’t work). So like any good American he went out punching buttons. The first punch got him another language, but it was Spanish. No problem, our other daughter is fluent in Spanish!) All he had to do was figure out which buttons he had pushed in which sequence. Finally, on the third try he was able to get the car to talk to him in English again. And incidentally, the only car dealers that called him back wanted to know if he would like to trade the car in for another one.

Obviously, the younger artists are most comfortable with technology, but I have seen a few of them get frustrated when something didn’t work “as advertised.” I guess the reality is that when it works, it makes our life easier and probably more creative even if we produce primarily with our hands. I know being able use technology to view and discuss the work of other artists influences my work. Videos teach me about new techniques, and the simple means of communicating allows me to share my own work with thousands of people even in other countries.

Our Art and Soul

In some ways adaptation to different circumstances is the heart and soul of art. I recently discovered that Matisse began his “cut-out” series after cancer forced him to use a wheelchair. While the work was a departure from his large paintings, critics often refer to them as among the best works of his entire career. 

While I would miss technology, I believe artists are among the most adaptable people in our society. Perhaps it would be a good idea for all artists to develop their “other left or right hand.” By this I mean develop more than one method of creating, challenging ourselves to go beyond our daily borders.

Stepping beyond what has worked for us in the past might open the door to even better work in the future.

Naming Our Children

Like most artists, paintings are somewhat like my children. I have a lot of time and effort and angst invested in them. So I want to send them into the world well equipped for any struggles they might encounter.

 

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Untitled, “10 x 8” Mixed media on paper

Continue reading “Naming Our Children”

Unfinished

Does unfinished artwork provide insight into the creative process?

paul-cc3a9zanne-la-montagne-sainte-victoire-vue-des-lauves2La Montagne Sainte Victoire vue des Lauves, 1901 – 06, Paul Cézanne

 

Is an artwork ever finished? Some artist can say yes, sign it, and let it go out into the world. Others, unless (it goes into the world) will keep changing and refining it. So we have finish as in “complete” and finish as in “process.”

When I did a little research I found that Paul Cezanne was among the painters who left many paintings incomplete. One historian blamed some of this on his analytical methods and his use of thickly placed layers of paint since it likely took months to finish any piece. But editors of a book called Cezanne Finished- Unfinished explain that the unfinished areas were possibly experimental at first but were later deliberate and provide us with insight into his creative process.

This all started because I am constantly “finishing”—one of those who fits both definitions. Just a few days ago I decided that a small portion of a large painting that had been hanging for at least two months wasn’t right. A shape in the corner seemed to lead your eye off the page so of course I had to fix it. And now it is “finished” again.

 

A Whisper Can Be Powerful

I’ve learned that small and quiet can be powerful.

watertimpani3whisper
“Water Timpani III: Whisper,” 10″ x 10″, mixed media on deep wood panel, https://www.artfinder.com/product/water-timpani-iii-whisper/

It has been a couple of weeks since I hiked the short trail into High Falls at Dupont State Forest. You could hear the roar long before you had any view, a view that is spectacular. But the truly powerful moment for me was a tiny whisper.

When we got to the base of the falls, we sat and I looked at the rocks and water flowing just at my feet. The crowd of people around me disappeared. That soft, playful gurgle over rocks at your feet can be just as magical and engaging as a waterfall plunging 60 vertical feet.

Small and quiet can also be powerful—because powerful is about your heart and mind.

 

Art Can Change Attitudes

Art is even more important as we age.

BreathingGroundI
“Breathing Ground I,” 36″ x 15″, a celebration of marshes

 We all know art is important, but I believe it is even more important as we age.

Reason #1 It Makes Me Happy

When I pick up a brush and put paint on paper or board, I loose myself. I forget that the world is messed up, that my knees hurt, that the young person at the check out looked past me and not at me. When a couple hours have passed the world looks more hopeful, there’s even a spot of yellow or red I can see in the distance. My knees… I can still walk. And that young person at the checkout, could it be that they were just having a bad day—a car payment was late or they didn’t sleep staying up late with a small child.

(To Be Continued)

Fitting In

FittingIn
“Fitting In”

It is something we all try to do at some—or at every— point in our lives. We want to belong to family, to neighborhood, to school, to our country at large. According to the author of Quiet, research suggests that we can only truly belong by being ourselves and by not trying to change who we really are.

But we can occasionally cross boundaries if we remain authentic. We can even compromise. (Is this word still used today?) When we do compromise, we still must remain true to ourselves and to our values.

I think art is very much the same. We can experiment with new techniques, colors, materials, but in the end, we must remain true to our own nature. After 30 days of experimenting, it will be interesting to see what takes hold of me permanently.

“Fitting In,” 8″ x 8″, mixed media on deep wood panel, $150