Thursday, December 21, 2017

Small is Beautiful, Right?

After a two-person exhibition, “Shaking Loose,” with the artist Rhys Davies at Hope and Feathers (Amherst, Massachusetts), I am back to small works...

Why? I had been working, steadily, slowly, towards abstract works that shimmer with color and stay largely clear of line and image, clear of outlined foreground and background. Here are a couple of examples from the Hope and Feathers show. The first is called “Friday Noon,” and the second “Tuesday Morning, 10:30.”

I love these paintings. I do.  But they are, I have discovered, their own end-point.  If I look through all of my paintings (, I can see the work change over time, and I can see what lead to these paintings... but I can’t take this work any farther. No lines, no discernible shapes... what could come next? I could, I suppose, by painting, say, an all-blue canvas.  So where can I go?

I looked online, pulling up “abstract” and “zombie formalism” and the names of various strong abstract artists. I saw too many paintings that shared sensibilities, colors, and brushwork with mine. We constitute a small country, us abstractionists, and it became difficult for me to sort my work out from anyone else’s. The art critics are tired of it, and the woman who comes into the gallery from the cold doesn't feel it. 

So I am working small, with digital means (adobe sketch)

 or inktense blocks and gouache and watercolor and the occasional flourish of acrylic. 

The sizes are 14” x 17” and 11” x 14” for now... I may be able to blow these up to billboard size at some point. But for now, I am going back in to places and moments and drawing lines and text and the slightly wonky images that I see when I think with closed eyes.