Sunday, February 27, 2011

Balancing Act

We, you and I, are encouraged, possibly from the day we stagger our first steps across a room, to compare our abilities against another. We get an A in elementary school when others get a B. We get a blue ribbon when others receive purple. A check is presented, and others get either a larger check or none at all. The more “other-oriented” comparisons we get the more we – and others - understand ourselves as Good-Better-Best. This happens in very nearly every facet of our lives, from running laps to creating art.

At the same time, as creative individuals, we are encouraged to find ourselves, to delve deeper and deeper into truth; our truth, someone’s truth, the Truth of the Ages. It is suggested we ignore the opinions of others and do what our hearts tell us to do: to scribble unconsciously, to throw, scoop, or fling as our inner explorer demands. We search for our way; not a mentor’s way, not a teacher’s way nor the way of any other human that came before us (as if all other creative acts are passe somehow). We head into the jungle dreaming of finding Atlantis, Mr. Livingstone, or at least some small evidence of sasquatch.

©2011  Patricia Scarborough  Last Glance  12x16 Pastel

These two facets, the creating and the comparison, cause an oxymoronic situation that we as artists must deal with every time we step to the easel, the potter’s wheel, the writing table, loom or sewing machine. Those of us who have a desire to make a living from our creative work (or at least pay our own expenses now and then) are given the task of balancing this wobbly scenario: Be yourself, but not so much that the rest of us can’t like you.

This is on my mind now because I’m preparing for a solo exhibit, and also because it’s the season for juried exhibitions. Both require equal amounts of Intrepid Explorer vs a Please Like Me! attitude.

And that’s the paradox, isn’t it?

So far I’ve been lucky in that what I love to paint, and how I paint it, have been fairly acceptable to the public and the jurist. This means I can continue to do what I do in the way I do it and not feel like a lone voice in the wilderness. Having said that, I also know that there are avenues for me to explore which may not meet with the same acceptance.

©2011 Patricia Scarborough  Holding Time  12x16 Pastel

To remain in the circulation of the viewing public is the desire of most of us, certainly. Very few of us would bother if we’re ignored, or if the reaction to our work is so bland it doesn’t register. Exclusivity works best when we’re on the inside looking out.

But while there is comfort in acceptance, there is also – for me - need for discomfort, for challenge and growth. I'm not after the source of the Nile, but I do wonder about it.

I’ll figure it out. It won’t happen tomorrow, or even soon.

How do you make it work – or do you?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

 ©2011 Patricia Scarborough, "Dawn Whispers" 12x16 Pastel on Wallis Paper
Egad, Dear Reader, I find that I've whittled away the day trying, trying to get organized.
I'm not a twit about getting and staying organized, but I'll be the first to admit that I'd rather paint than enter info into my various spreadsheets and inventory programs.  Annoyingly, the tax man doesn't care about that, so I spend a few hours now and then devising clever ways to keep track of myself.
Because there are still a few loose ends to tie up, I'll leave you with a recent pastel painting. Lately  I've been interested in the way trees and the sky weave themselves together. It'll be the theme for an exhibit coming up this spring. 
Take a moment, why don't you, to notice this interesting slice of landscape.  Tiny brittle twigs reach into space, creating a soft merging of light and solid, blurring the line beteen positive and negative space. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweets for My Sweeties

Greetings Dear Readers

Thanks for the great emails and comments about last week's post, "A Day in the Life". Seems more than a few of you could sympathize.

It's Valentine's Day Eve, and I had planned on buying you all roses, but honestly, I'm too cheap.  Candy was my second thought, but I know you're still on your New Year's diet and I'd hate to derail that. I guess you could come over for dinner, but really, can't you do better than that?

©2011 Patricia Scarborough, Mill Road, September  11x14 pastel

Email me a sweet hello and I'll add you to my newsletter list.  This once-a-month missive lets you in on the inside workings at Scarborough Studios.  To sweeten the pot, I'll also send you a very cool magnet created using "Mill Road, September" (which, if you've been paying attention, was juried into the Norfolk Arts Center 4th Annual Juried Exhibit to be held this March in Norfolk, Ne.) 

At 2" x 3-1/2" it's perfect for your fridge, filing cabinet, or to slip inside your friend's wallet to erase their credit cards.  If, after reading a few of them you decide you never want to see another, simply unsubscribe.  We'll still be friends.

If you already receive my newsletter, I'll send you a magnet for being so smart.

The Fine Print:  I will never, ever share your email with anyone, and I promise not to stuff your email inbox with anything but my cleverly worded once-a-month newsletter. You'll have to give me a snail mail address for the magnet. I swear on all my oil brushes I will never use it again without your permission.  E v e r. 

Yes, that's my name printed subtly across the bottom.

My supply of magnets is limited, so don't fiddle around too long.  When they're gone, they're gone.  Zip  me an email here.
Happy Valentines Day folks.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Painting

A day in the life of a painting...

Make some marks.

Think about it awhile.

Mix up some more paint. Make some more marks. 

Wonder why you made those marks.  Think about starting laundry. Wonder about a guy who could invent the washing machine.  

 Decide the original marks are acceptable and define areas of movement, value and temperature.

Ponder the composition. Forget to remember to start laundry. Wonder what it would be like to be an airline pilot. Think about starting supper.

Continue developing the shapes.  Add more texture to the foreground.  Wish I'd paid better attention in art class.

Look at the painting upside down. Think about putting laundry in dryer.  Remember it's not yet in the washer. 

Study the painting in a mirror.  Notice the mirror needs dusting.  Remember to think about starting laundry.

Consider what kind of  marks would read as tree limbs. Wonder what happened to the kid down the block we used to chase in 3rd grade. 

Focus.  Drum up everything I've learned about color theory.  Forget what day it is.  Step back, take a breath.
Decide it's done.  Do a happy dance.  Go start laundry.

©2011 Patricia Scarborough, Return 11x14 oil

Decide it's not done. Sweat bullets. Make a few changes. Relax and pat myself on the back, I'm done - again.

Skip the happy dance, go start laundry and supper.  No, really.