Sunday, April 13, 2014

Planning the Flow

This one satisfies me. Problem solved.
I’m getting a little tiny handle on some artistic growing pains.  You may have noticed.  Painting successfully has been a challenge the last couple of months. I’ve described it in these posts using whiny thoughts disguised as bravery that became apparent only after poking the ‘publish’ button. Sorry ‘bout that.

I have known for months that some changes were in order. Probably would have been a good idea right then and there to sit down and figure out just exactly which changes and what order.

But then I don’t work like that. I go with the flow, flow with my mood, follow brush marks and fresh thoughts, bird walks and over grown paths into the wilderness, continuing to push on hoping -  believing - I’ll be able to come out on the other side.  I have been Stanley to my own Dr. Livingstone.

My problem-solving process has been less the solving of an identified problem through a developed process than working through a situation with equal amounts of planning, panic, disgust, frustration, annoyance, some talent and sheer luck. I keep throwing myself into deep water believing I’ll figure out that whole swimming thing before going under completely. It has worked just often enough that I believe it’ll work again, fingers crossed.

Albert Einstein said, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Not yet ready for membership in that club, it's time to develop a new problem-solving process. Part of that process is the recognition that my problem-solving process was the problem. Say that one three times real fast.

The first step will be figuring out what worked, what satisfied me; what didn’t and why. I will try to preserve that go-with-the-flow attitude while learning to let go before I follow that flow right down the drain.
I may still jump in a little too far into the deep end, but at least I’ll put water wings on first.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Leaping - a Little

It’s easy to say “Leap and the net will appear!” from the comfort of one’s easy chair, especially when the one doing the speaking is not the one actually leaving terra firma.
It’s easy to shout “Leap and the net will appear!” just after the landing, when one’s feet are firmly planted on the ground, having just alit on tippy toes, arms gracefully swept up in a salute to the heavens, back arched gracefully as a swan.

“Leap and the net will appear?” becomes a question whispered when one’s feet are still in contact with the earth, having not yet felt any space grow between toes and the edge of the cliff.  The dream is still fresh and the potential is still, well, potential.

In real life, there are weird and wonderful pauses between the leaping and the landing. We, the leapers, get to make the rules about letting go. Some days it’s an effortless release, some days it's all we can do to peel our fingers from the rail. At least in letting go there are possibilities.

Recently I’ve let go of some painting practices for no other reason than to see what else is out there. I’ve opened new tubes of new pigments, spread them with new brushes onto new surfaces. The surprise has been what a workout these seemingly small changes have been. There is no more muscle memory to rely on, no more habits of mixing and slathering on paint because it always worked before. Each time I pick up my palette knife a new recipe is considered, tested, discarded or saved. New ideas encourage me to consider more carefully the marks I make. Some days the butterflies I feel in anticipation of the work threaten to carry me away.
 2014 Patricia Scarborough  Peonies up cose

I can’t say I’m leaping, exactly. More of a hop, or maybe a little drop from one elevation to another. There’s hardly a need for a net.  I have a new empathy for baby birds who don’t want to leave their nest.

And yet, they do. And so will I.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

That Was It

Sumpthin's up.

If I had to write an artist's statement today, it would consist of a blank sheet of paper. I'd have to sign it in invisible ink.

Is it the long wait for spring? Perhaps the tilt of the earth, or the relentless, cheerless, twenty-four-hour "news" cycle.

Maybe its nothing at all.

But sumpthin's up. I find myself mixing different colors and applying them with a different hand. 
The creases around my eyes are deepening as I think harder and stare longer.

A friend of mine, a fellow who has painted his way through life far longer than I, tells me that oftentimes he feels a need to explore a concept - sometimes without really understanding what compels him to do so. It's not unusual for the 'aha moment' to hold off for months or longer.  It's a nameless, wordless conversation that he recognizes and accepts after all these years, and he gives it room to develop and be expressed. When finally the solution comes to him, he says, "Oh, that was it!" And on he goes, hardly breaking stride.

These times are a little uneasy. As I've mentioned before, I like the little groove I've developed for myself. It's an odd feeling to stray off my beaten path.

(Yeah, I know what that sounds like. I'm not plodding off into the dark humid tangle of vines and politics of some third world  island. My fridge is close by and we're fairly well stocked with cushy toilet paper. The neighbors are fine people. But still.)

The best I can say is that I'm figuring out the world, one brush stroke at a time. One of these days the solution will show itself and I'll say, "Oh! That was it!" 

And then I'll know.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mash Up

Greetings Dear Reader,

Today's post will be a mash-up of goings on in Scarborough Studios, which is a nice way of saying that I don't really have much to say.

©Patricia Scarborough, Easter 8x10 pastel, included in Seasons Exhibit at The Burkholder Project

I was recently juried into an exhibit at The Burkholder Project in Lincoln, Ne. by retired Doane College Professor of Art Richard Terrell. His title for the exhibit, "Seasons" is apt; the show consists of a variety of art styles that cover the changing weather in Nebraska. I'm delighted to be included among artists whose work I have admired for years: Anne Burkholder, Hal Holoun, Gib Neal, Richard Terrell and Keith Jacobshagen, among others. March is the month for "Seasons".

My stay at Nebraska Nature and Visitor's Center has been extended another month. If you enjoy bird watching, the sandhill cranes are making their way through Nebraska, with thousands of them roosting on the river and in the fields adjacent to NNC. It's an awesome spectacle and the nature center celebrates with special tours and art exhibits.
©Patricia Scarborough  Last Snow  12x16 pastel at NNC

Get outside while the weather's nice and go see some art!