Sunday, December 27, 2009

Deja Vu and Left Turns

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank those of you who have become followers of this blog. I truly appreciate all of you.

Does this sound like deja vu? . . .

"Last post I promised you a very cool surprise. The plan was to unveil it this weekend, and as creative endeavors often go, it had a plan of it's own. Since it's important to make certain that this project is the best it can be, we'll just take a little bit longer to cross all the t's and dot all the i's. Be patient. It'll be worth it. I promise. . ."

Like herding cats, the project I've been tantalizing you with has proven to be harder to master than anticipated. It's not that it's gone haywire, it's really going quite well. And it's not that those involved are not able to carry it off. In fact, it's because those involved are immensely talented and capable that this project is taking longer than anticipated.

Creative endeavors are hard to pin down. It's difficult to discern when they're "good enough". That "before idea" doesn't always jibe with the actual result, and working at it can be enlightening and frustrating. It takes time to release that original idea as well as connect with the new product.

I rarely spray my pastels with fixative. My experience is that regardless of how careful I spray, or how expensive the fixative is, the painting changes. Those tiny droplets of resin grab the pastel dust, and separate and darken the marks. At the point at which I would spray a finished painting, I've determined that it's, well, finished. That means that it meets my expectations and hopes. It's done, and I mark that moment of done-ness by signing the surface.
At that point I don't want it to change anymore.

However . . .

In a newsletter received recently I noticed a remark by an artist I adore and admire, who was extolling the virtues of fixing pastels. And her belief was backed up by experts in the field. So I tried it. My first spray with the fixative produced a lovely field of freckles across the soft greys of my quiet painting. I sprayed it again, hoping to merge the freckles into one lovely complexion. Nothing doing, the fix layed on the surface like a wet plastic sheet, just like I was afraid it would. (Lest you tsk at me, I promise you I read the directions, and followed them to the letter.)

@2009 P Scarborough Square 9 First Version

@2009 P Scarborough Square 9 Second Version

As you can see, colors change. Strokes change. Plans change.

Detail: Streetlight from Square 9, First Version

Detail: Streetlight from Square 9, Second version

The interesting thing is, after I got over the initial shock and panic and nausea, vertigo, hives...headache...and general heebie-jeebies...

I like it. As painful as it was for me to admit, I like the second version better. I enhanced a spot or two, and carefully tended to a few more passages. In the end the 2nd version is interesting and exciting, perhaps more so than the first. Now, that's not to say that I'll ever, ever use fixative again. (I stand by my position: Fixative changes pastels. If I ever ever use it again, it'll be as part of the process of painting, and not to "finish it".) Despite my careful planning, despite my education and experience, this project took an unexpected left turn. Letting go of the original plan, and going with the flow allowed a pretty darned good painting to find its way.

So the project I've been taunting you with for the last 2 weeks will come soon. When it does, it'll be just what the artist wanted - or better. When it's done, signed, sprayed and finished . . . you'll be among the first to know. I promise.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great Moments

@2009 P Scarborough Square 9 12x12 pastel & graphite

Last post I promised you a very cool surprise. The plan was to unveil it this weekend, and as creative endeavors often go, it had a plan of it's own. Since it's important to make certain that this project is the best it can be, we'll just take a little bit longer to cross all the t's and dot all the i's.

Be patient. It'll be worth it. I promise.

The piece at the top of the post is another in my Square Series. It's a pastel and graphite, which is a combination that I've never used before. This time, it just felt right. Using a pencil to lightly cross-hatch over the soft tones of pastel helped created a tension that gave me what I was after. It's a loose application of both media, less a memorial to this small dot-on-the-map community than it is to that time when dusk becomes daylight in a working class town. It's about that moment that exists in a person's awareness, in the midst of all the lists of things to do and worry about, that instant when the brain is awakened to sunlight breaking through early clouds. It only lasts a second before being washed away by more lists and worry and the detritus of life. I think about this stuff when I paint. It's important to share, somehow.

In other news, I just got the nicest Christmas gift ever. Twice.

A very nice lady said to me the other day: "Since I've gotten to know you, my view of the world has changed. I see so much more color than I ever have. I see shapes and textures I've never noticed. Now, when I see a field of grass, I see so much more!"

And just this morning, on our daily constitutional, Handsome Husband said very nearly the same thing. "I enjoy our walks so much more than I used to", he said. "You've helped me notice things I would have overlooked before."

As an artist, it's my goal to touch another with my view of the world.

To actually hear that I have, in some small way, done that is, well, just really nice.

I understand that my kind of art will not cure cancer, nor will it stop people from fighting. The globe will warm - or not, and there'll be no magic cure for reality. That's okay.
If my small accounting of a flash of sunlight on a dusty grain elevator early in the morning can
snap your overloaded brain out of it's daily grind and give you pause to be refreshed, that'd be lovely.
It's an honor to know that what I create can give someone a sense of peace.
It's delightful to know that what I paint can give somebody a reason to step outside of their oh-so busy life and see the world in a fresh way.
Bring on the holidays, I'm ready. The nicest gifts ever have already been delivered.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Letter

@2009 Patricia Scarborough 12x12 oil

It's that time again!

Tis the season for the Christmas Letter. (Cue the theme from Jaws.)

Like the Boogie Man at Halloween (in my neighborhood it was the Hairy Scratch), or your neighbor at the back door with her arms full of zuchini in September, it's the time of year our mailboxes fill up with long-winded missives from those dear close friends we didn't know we had.
Shiney as a new Sears catalog, these perfect families and their charming escapades, vacations and championships dazzle us with their, well, dazzling-ness.

I surrender.

The only cruise I've been on is up Highway 81 to hit the Walmart store.

The only gold I've received is the gold cap I got for the tooth I broke on last year's peanut brittle.
I did find treasure. It was the last piece of pumpkin pie hidden in the fridge after Thanksgiving. Too bad it was 2 weeks old. (At least I think it was pumpkin pie.)

So, my Christmas Letter to you, Dear Reader, goes something like this:

Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks for your comments. It's always nice to hear from you.

Had a great year painting. Snagged a couple new galleries, taught a few classes, made tons of friends.

Hope you had a good year too.

Happy Holidays my Friends-

Oh, and come back next week. I'm going to reveal a very cool project initiated by a very cool fellow. Consider it your Christmas gift. You're gonna love it, I promise.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Giving In

@2009 P Scarborough, Square 7 'Morning' 12x12" oil

Well lah-di-dah for me! I've been selected as Favorite Artist by Elena of Springview Nebraska Elementary School in beautiful Keya Paha County, Nebraska. I am tickled to pieces!

Thank you so much, my young artist friend.

Elena is working on a writing project and has asked a few questions of me that I've been thinking about for several days. They seemed so simple at first, like all good questions. They're really got me thinking.

Such as...

What inspired you to become an artist? Hmmmmmmmmm. What did inspire me?

Gosh, I tried drumming up memories of a grand moment, a time in history when I got goosebumps and whispered, this is it. I worked hard at dredging up memories of long quiet visits to museums to study and commune with Van Gogh, Picasso, Sargent. Was there a grown-up who said, Good Golly child, you're a genius! Hm, no, I really can't remember anything like that at all.

Honestly, I think I just gave in.

The art room is where I always felt comfortable. I knew the language in that country. There was no worry of losing something in the translation. (Unlike that foreign land, algebra.) To use lines to communicate texture or weight or an emotion was as normal to me as burping after chugging a soda. Doesn't everyone do that?

Some people take jobs to pay rent, buy a car, feed their families. I did that too. Eventually the jobs were about buying art supplies and art classes.

And one day I gave in completely. I surrendered to the feeling that painting daily was the most important thing I could offer this planet.

So I did, and I do. Giving in to this life is the most rewarding action I've ever taken. I'm me, in my own country speaking the language I know.

Thanks for asking the question Elena. It was good for me to answer. Good luck with your project, and stay in touch. Maybe one day I'll be seeing your lovely artwork in a gallery or museum, and we'll talk about the days in art class where we felt so much at home.