Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Yesterday when I finished painting in my studio, I had those old niggling doubts. You know, "Why am I doing this?" "Is it important'' Then I walked out and got the mail. A Cuban friend wrote to me to express interest in my project with immigrants and to tell me of two new sources for subjects and information. I have noticed a pattern in my life...just when I begin to feel discouraged, a tangible encouragement comes along. I hope that next time I feel discouragement coming on, I can stop and say, "Hey their must be something good just around the corner!"
This young man/boy works in the strawberry and raspberry fields with his family. He is proud of the cooperative organic farm they have formed. Later I realized how wonderful it is that these families are not working in dangerous pesticides each day.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I am continuing to wonder about the place of ritual in my work. I always want to have it be so pre-ordained that I just show up each day and go through my paces...with no doubt, thought or the corollary mental exhaustion. Is it possible to lay out work for a year and just ritualistically perform it...or do I need to continually respond to the work and idea at hand and constantly recalibrate. I fear the latter is true for me. Alas.
I am wondering about the act of ritual. How important is it to show up every day and 'do' the work before me. My method of working is fairly ritualized. I go to my studio each afternoon and turn on NPR and tie on an apron with a plastic bag against my clothing (to make sure no solvents get to my skin) then I tuck a towel into my apron tie, lay out my paints and begin. But how do I choose my subject each day...even within the genre I am currently addressing. Sometimes I think I should just lay out a one or three year cycle of work and sty with it until that time period is over. Other times I believe, that within my daily work ritual, I am following a divinely laid out rabbit trail and I need to just keep following.
These family members, with several small children in tow, wait at a bus stop. One clear advantage to public transportation is that you will not be stopped for a moving violation or vehicle problem and asked for your papers.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I am reading Barbra Kingsolver's new book, The Lacuna. The charachter portraying Frida Kahlo is telling a young writer to go ahead and write what moves him, rather than what those around him are writing. She says, "I think an artist has to tell the truth. You have to use the craft very well and have a lot of discipline for it, but mostly to be a good artist you have to know something that is true." I am thinking about this because I am painting undocumented immigrants right now. While I feel certain that this is important work, I feel equally certain that my painting craft should continue to move forward in the midst of this work.
This man wears a back brace to deal with a painful hernia as he works hard all day. He told me that he 'goes to church' on T.V. early on Sunday morning in order to: 1. Lessen his exposure to La Migra and 2. Save time so he can work all day 7 days a week.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Ken O'Connell came to my house and did a travel sketchbook workshop. It was so freeing for all the guilty, stuck, half-empty sketchbook owners. He encouraged us to NOT view our sketchbooks as precious objects but more as experimental labs, recordings of food we eat, places we go, people we meet.
Yesterday, I was puttering in the pocket garden that opens off my studio...for a small break from painting...and thinking about how much I am loving this stage of my life. After an enriching 35 years of raising six children, I am experiencing CHUNKS of working and thinking time....glorious!
Last night, I was at a workshop with a Mexican-American folk artist who was designated a 'National Treasure' by Ronald Reagan (who knew?). While there, I met a potter who expressed every artist's doubt: "What am I doing this for?"
Eight families from Central America and Mexico share and farm this six acre organic raspberry and strawberry farm.