Untangle the Slinky and Keep Making Art

After quite a hectic summer and fall in our co-op Bear River Artworks Gallery, I welcome this time to binge a little on Netflix, discover exciting artists on Instagram and to listen to podcasts from all over the world covering topics as diverse as how-to-be-an-artist-in europe, international politics, meditation, and story-telling. Add a few mini workshops on art to the list, some studio planning, video making, instagram optimization… along with website editing and potato chip eating and a bit of treadmill time and that kind of sums up my days.

The studio this week. The greenhouse door is frozen shut.

In fact, it’s been difficult to get my art engine going. There have been a lot of starts and stops.

I feel a little bit like a
slinky toy that stalls part way down the stairs, then needs to be helped to continue.

As a work-around the tangle, I’ve spent some time experimenting with my paints and materials with a focus on colour and play. Handling the brushes and crayons and pencils and inks leads to ideas and inspiration for developed paintings. Well, so the theory goes.
Also, it’s fun to approach creativity in a carefree way without expectations.

Maggie-Rose, the art critic, approves.

With this piece above, I took an older acrylic painting on paper and placed pieces of painter’s tape on it in a grid form and then painted out the taped areas using similar colours to the original. I also used pastel and pencil marks and spattered ink. The intention of the tape was to force myself to deal with each resulting area so that I wouldn’t get lost in looking at the entire painting as one, but as a series of different areas. I removed the tape and continued making shapes and marks. I love the drama of the orange and blues and the marks too.

I painted over another painting on paper. only this time I moved away from a grid pattern with the tape. I wanted to integrate the whole into one. I didn’t want the taping to look so obvious. I like the movement in this one. Omicron was building at the time and this reminds me of cellular shapes. I called it “Life’s Complications”

I tried it again with cool colours and a palette reduced to 2 blues and two yellows. I wet the paper first to create a softer feel because the colour would bleed together. Once dry, I put tape on in a way that would combine curves and straight lines. I thought this looked kind of space-age-y

I tried it again, but this time without straight lines. I added red to contrast with the blue, but I find it too harsh.

I watched a bunch of instagram videos of painters dragging colour with a squeegee and tried that too. I decided that colour is my mood enhancer. Blues are calming and orange and red are energizing. I’m thinking about making a large canvas based on the orange and green painting below. However, I learned that the paint effect on paper (below) is not the same as on a canvas, so I have to rethink this.

This pea green painting below is on card that has first been covered with white paint. The amoebas are caused by dripping alcohol onto wet acrylic paint. It is however, miraculous that it actually turned out so well. It requires the perfect combination of wet and dry and paper and paint. I don’t know that I could do this again. I tried it again on paper (not card) and it didn’t work. Perhaps it needs a harder surface.

Doesn’t it look like something under the microscope or out in the universe?

All those round shapes reminded me of the chrysanthemum flowers in a pot. I pulled out my oil paints in sticks and sketched them and added the tulips for good measure. The actual tulips were red and yellow, but I could not resist using a juicy pink oil stick instead.

Oil paint sticks and pencil on paper. ©Flora Doehler, 2022

And now I am falling asleep with paint and colour dancing in my head which, for me, is a good thing.

It’s still a challenge to activate myself and honestly, I could lie on the couch, watch forgettable stories on Netflix and eat potato chips, but that inner voice keeps reminding me what a thrill it is to be focused inside a painting. And the colours! It’s transformational. And much tastier than chips.

I have untangled the slinky and now ‘graduated’, in moderation, to painting. I am nudging forward. I will share that with you next time. Thanks for listening. Be well.

Oil paint sticks on paper, 2021

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