Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Moontree Studio!!

For the past two years, my beautiful husband Markus has been spending nearly every hour of his spare time building my studio. It got behind schedule a bit, but who can blame him; I designed it myself (not necessarily simply) and we are, after all, unschooling parents of young kids.

Well, after all this time, my studio now has floors, water, power (temporary by extension cord, but it works), and shelves with my stuff on them... and my new etching press -- all in pieces on the floor, making the place feel at once like an honest-to-goodness dream-studio, and also disheveled enough to be my own. I felt at home there for the first time. :--) So finally I got to work on my MAMA project, last night. I finished one painting I'd started earlier, and started a new one. Only about 16.5 more to go before the show!! (eep -- I'm starting 3 months later than I planned!) Eventually, despite the heater on high, 15 candles burning, and a perpetual cup of hot water with which to rewarm my fingers, I got too cold and had to go back to the house.

But I made a personal discovery: I am part of a long line of artists. I have a place in the art-world. Uninteresting though that may sound to readers of my blog, it's a big deal for me, so I'm writing it down here to remember.

I have always resented the popular direction from art teachers: "place yourself in the art world"; "align yourself with other artists"; "discuss your influences". (What the hell?! My influences change by the second, and 99% of the time have absolutely nothing to do with formally recognized art-forms!) But yesterday I was painting a painting of an old woman. It wasn't the woman I had photographed, whose image hung taped to the bedsheet I was painting; it was a bit of a few other people, all now dead, who drifted back and forth between my eyes and the sheet. One of those people was Jessie Binning, and it was no surprise, because the woman in the photo is leaning on her hand, similarly to Mrs. Binning (as I called her when she was alive), on a poster advertising an exhibition of her late husband Bert's art. That poster hangs in my hall and I see it every day. I never knew Bert; he died around the time I was born. I only knew his art through my parents' and Mrs. Binning's enthusiasm. The things he is most renown for (such as the mosaic on the BCHydro building, among other similarly grid-oriented works) have never interested me. But I do love his drawings. They are free and lively and interesting; the opposite (in my view) of his geometrical work. And last night I was painting with one of Bert's paint brushes, which I inherited when Mrs. Binning died.

OK, this sounds like it's dragging on and on. But really that was the nature of my discovery: long, drawn-out, and cluttered. Not only did I realize that I was, after all, influenced by an artist who has been under my nose (though dead) all my life, but also that he cared for his brushes as badly as I do! That meant a lot to me. I like my brushes old and worn, and I loved the feeling that this old, worn, paint-encrusted brush was my connection with the "art world". And I loved the feeling that it didn't matter, except just in that particular moment. Nobody asked me about it, and nobody cared. So I could allow myself to just enjoy it!

I could search for all sorts of meaning in that if I wanted to, but my thoughts drifted to Ursula. I gave the old woman Ursula's forehead...

That is another story.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Emily,
    Nice to see those moments of invisible connection. I love your blog. It's great to see the process of your work and the work itself comes across beautifully in the photos.
    Marie (from Hawai'i)