Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finding My Voice as an Artist

While I love taking classes and working on my drawing and painting skills my ultimate goal is to find my own voice as a visual artist. Since I have over a thirty year history as a choreographer and artistic director of a dance company I have been curious how I might transfer some of that experience, creativity and knowledge to painting. With this in mind I have begun an experiment using music, working in pastel and oil painting.

When we were preparing for our move to Santa Fe, Murray decided to transfer his large collection of LP records to computer files and to give away his record collection. I decided to take 25 of his records to experiment with an art project. So far I have completed 3 pieces and am nearly done with the 4th. I have decided not to evaluate what I am doing until I have done 12 of the 25. To keep experimenting and refining my process.

Here's my process:

I listen to a record and select a two to three minute portion. (Murray provides me with the file from his computer). I listen to it over and over like I might if I were going to choreograph it.

Then, using pastels, I make at least four rough abstract sketches. I let the music tell me what colors to choose. Much like improvising movement, I play with lines and shapes on paper with no censoring.

I look at the different sketches that I have done and choose one to refine and do so still working in pastel. When I am satisfied with that I move to canvas.

I have already taken a record and glued it to a 12 by 12 inch canvas. The record is gessoed so it will take oil paint. I do two coats and let it dry.

Now I'm ready to take the pastel sketch and sketch its outline in charcoal to the record/canvas.
Next I follow the traditional techniques I learned in Tony Ryder's class of inking in the sketch, doing an underpainting and then a final painting (or form painting) in oil. This process can take several weeks... especially since I am painting the sides of the canvas and that can involve several days of drying before I can turn the canvas to work on a side. I like painting the 1 1/2 inch sides because it gives it a 3 dimensional look and doesn't require framing to have a finished look.

Here's an example of the 3rd study I did to a short section of Vivaldi's Concerto in G Minor.

I would be interested in hearing from other visual artists who are experimenting with ways to find their own voice!