Last Friday (March 7th) marked the final day for installing a show that has been thought over for about a year. Though there was much time to prepare, the busy winter season made it so that the actual work couldn’t be undertaken until late January for a March installation. So that left me with 37 days to get start and work out the ideas for this “Spatial painting” that I have been fantasizing about for the whole year. There were lots of paintings and re-paintings of the piece and other paintings until it got down to the final 2 weeks and I figured out what was actually going to work with in the APE Gallery with Katie and Carolyn’s pieces and to keep my work consistent looking.
The original Idea was this. The idea came from seeing a sculptural painting on glass when I was younger that actually appeared animated when the viewer walked by it. When I tried looking for this artist years later, I found another artist named, Xia Xiaowan is one artist from china whose spatial paintings on panes of stacked glass inspired this idea. His work pushes figurative painting past two-dimensional space. His intricate drawing skills bring his artwork into life, as though floating and captured in a glass confinement.
I knew this project would be expensive, so I applied for a grant to cover some of the cost. Luckily, they let me have that grant. So, after spending way too much money buying the glass and building the steel frame and a deadline closing in on 2 weeks, I started to feel the pressure. And drawing. I worked out drawing after drawing on those glass pieces, just figuring out how dimensional drawing even looks.
And I’m not showing these sketches off because I think they’re good. They look a mess – well except for the first one with the wave color thing going on. But that idea was too simple and friends told me that I had to really explore this new thing. I just wanted to show that part of making art, taking a risk and spending too much money to make something that probably won’t sell, will have it’s glorious moments of fumbling around in the dark. And I really believe that this is a really really good thing. Making art is a safe container in which one can Fudge it up a bit overwork, underwork, erase, re-do and so on. There are NO mistakes in art making. Unless there is physical/ bodily harm to yourself or others maybe, but even some artist have disproved that. And besides, maybe you know what I mean. I mean, fretting is a part of life, and stalling and hesitation but really, when you get down to it, starting is way more productive. When I got to the end of this glass thing, I was just like ” that’s it, it sucks, aaand I’m just going to show it anyway.” Though I did have a fantasy of throwing the thing and watching the glass shatter all over the floor. BUt even in that frustration, I really learned in there. I digress….
The idea of painting on many panes of glass made me think that it would push the depth that I was looking for in my underwater resin covered paintings. I thought that I was going to explore the joy of paint and underwater environment and invite the viewer to get immersed in the physicality of a painting like I feel when I’m painting the two – dimensional pieces. Where initially, I envisioned some grand underwater 3-D painting sculpture, I had to simplify to a simple portrait to focus in on working out how to actually paint a coherent piece on 15 panes of glass.
I started to be drawn in to the fact that this portrait seemed to express subtle emotional expressions based upon where I stood. She seemed to almost be smiling and the next moment worried. She appeared to be on the breach of tears in one moment and a woman possessed of depth and strength. Though made of thick glass and heavy steel, this figure is vulnerable. Vulnerable to glance, lighting, and even touch being that her surfaces composed of delicate brush strokes and fragile glass.
What happened when I took to the glass panes holding the idea of “beneath the surface” was the sudden need to experiment not in the bold color and stroke of my more two – dimensional pieces, but delving more into the nuanced emotional depth of a human experience in looking at something.
This led me to just put the bold and brilliant color to the side for the two-dimensional pieces. The method of painting multi-layered paintings of people blissed out underwater using resin is for me to revel in color and paint the fun in looking very closely at the surface of paintings. This woman of glass touches on the dimensional explorations I am doing with paint, but shifted my thinking into reflecting upon the dynamic expression of the human experience in the subtle shifting perspective of where you are when you are looking at this face. Though I did want to make sure that when you walk by the piece, the color shifts from crimsons to ultramarine blue as you move to the other side of the figure. This is actually my favorite aspect of the piece, when the color shifts as you walk by it.
Now this show is installed! I hope to sharing some pictures of the opening this friday and the whole space. Katie and Carolyn Clayton are the other artists involved in this show… I am being self-centered and mostly working out my thoughts about this sculptural piece here. But working with them to make this show has really been an immense growing opportunity and an awesome showing of some women making BIG ASS AWESOME ART with glass, concrete, steel, fabrics and determination! This show is my very first prominent gallery showing and I’m excited to see what can grow from this opportunity.
A special huge thank you to Ben Westbrook for constructing this lovely metal base in the Eastworks building at BMW Works for which the glass for this sculpture can be home.