I’ve recently become aware that I need to refine how I talk about my creative process. My process is largely iterative ~ far from linear. I love repurposing old paintings, building upon the history that is already there. I’m happy to abandon ideas of where I was trying to steer my painting, and open myself up to where it wants to go.
But in the midst of these bold 180s, one can miss the fact that there is a method to the madness. Every layer is deliberate and serves a purpose. Every layer is infused with intention. And this intention, whether it can be seen in the final piece or just felt, can be sensed by the viewer when they stand in front of the finished painting.
For example, here are four starts to four separate pieces:
• A meditation on contemplative imagination (and the ways that our art can amplify our activism).
• 2 collaged panels of transcribed interviews with my family/Chagga tribal elders.
• And images of notable milestones in my life.
Even though my approach might seem intuitive and loose, rest assured, it is not random or mindless. Every layer serves a purpose and informs the final piece, even if they lie deeply embedded beneath the surface…🤓
This 24″x 24″ painting has undergone a surprising number of transformations before finally settling on the Broadstairs piece currently exhibiting at Northwest Encaustics. As one of the more epic #NoPanelLeftBehind pieces, I decided to trace Broadstairs back to its origins, and offer snapshots of its evolution over the past 2 years…
March 13, 2017
Most of my pieces begin with writing…whether it be part of a journal entry, passage from a book, lyric, poem. The base layers here also includes wood glue burn, yellow india ink, and several clear coats of encaustic medium.
March 13, 2017
School’s out, which means my studio assistant is on hand to scrape back the layers. Always happy to let the kid loose on my paintings. I consider this a good return on my investment.😉
Every painting has an origin story. My initial vision for this blog was to show the evolution of pieces, from start to finish. (If I could, I would name my blog, “The Journey Is Everything.”) You can track the progress of all my pieces on my Instagram feed.
Here is the origin story of Shine On – my rusty sunflower piece, which has taken on many forms over the past year…
8/12/17 – Wrote out my morning meditation on engaged, contemplative imagination. #BeginAgain
8/14/17 – Morning Meditation (final). For my COCA Residency, I took this 24″x24″ white painting, and brought it to life in a 90″x 90″ 3D installation ~ The Truth Has No Borders. This shipping container installation combined 40 years of work in writing, music, film and art into a single exhibit examining identity, family, culture and migration.
2/10/18 – I lied earlier when I posted the white painting, Morning Meditation, and said it was my “Final” layer. The following week, I was bored to death of it. So I taped it back up, and went back to work.
2/12/18 – Shoreline. Came downstairs to find the kid laying out wax scraps on my painting, telling me it needed more texture. So I spent the day fusing the wax scraps onto the painting, and adding silver leaf.
7/19/18 – And now, for something completely different. I scraped and torched the Shoreline piece all the way down to the panel. 🔥🤩 The free write on the base of this panel was suffocating under the layers of valiant, earnest effort. Now it (and I) can finally breathe again.#BlowtorchTherapy #NoPanelLeftBehind #BeginAgain
7/31/18 – Today I return to a mostly empty studio, and start the day by making sunflower seeds ~a perfect meditation for beginning again.
8/1/18 – Got my first coat of rust on the sunflower seeds.
8/2/18 – Conquering fears today about not being able to draw by just painting these petals on free hand. More coats to follow. 😅 (I needed some way to pass time while the second coat of rust dried on the sunflower seeds!)
10/16/18 – Shine On! Applying new knowledge about color mixing to this piece, which is vying for a spot in pop-up exhibit/talk next week (“My Life in 24 Frames“, 10/23 at 6pm, Columbia City Gallery).