Sunday, February 21, 2016

Change is a Monster

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” 

Image result for frankenstein
This quote came to mind recently. As you may know, I experienced a great and sudden change last week when my carefully laid-out trays of pastel sticks leapt off the table and scattered themselves across my studio floor.

Imagine confetti during a parade down 5th Avenue in New York City, only not nearly as much fun.

I’m usually fairly careful about the way my pastel trays are organized; like hues in one area, arranged lightest to darkest. That way I know that if I’m looking for a dark dull warm red, it’s going to be in one small area, maybe 20 square inches. If it’s not there, I don’t own it. No time is wasted pawing through blues or yellows; lights or brights, scouring acres of potential for just the right color.

Locating a particular stick of pigment became automatic, just the way I like it. No time for distraction, there’s a painting waiting for attention.

It has been proven that the brain loves patterns and habits. Over time certain movements are hard wired into the circuitry of our grey matter so that no time is lost thinking about, well, everything. This explains why Frankenstein’s monster walked so oddly. Where your brain and mine take over the complex task of placing one foot in front of the other, balancing and coordinating hundreds of muscles, the monster had to figure it out on the go, so to speak. If he’d had a chance to practice just a little longer before his official debut to the public, things might have turned out differently.

A hundred years or so later, Henry Ford, industrialist and car collector, said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Since Doctor Frankenstein made a monster and that didn’t go so well, I’ll listen to Ford and accept some change. My pastels are now, rather brazenly I think, arranged in a manner that has my brain saying, “huh?”

Look out Madame Frankenstein. There’s a new bride in town.

My brain’s circuits are humming with change. I reach for a habitual warm blue and find a brighter, greener color in its place. A tangy scarlet has replaced a more humble red - why not grab it and see what happens? What, am I going to create a monster?

2016 Patricia Scarborough    Promise   12x12 pastel
Well, sometimes yes, but more often than not, my brain is pleased with the new activity.

I'm not suggesting that you go all Doctor Frankenstein and start making great and sudden changes, but a little tweak to the usual can get you to new and interesting places.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Me and My Town

Channel 10/11 News stopped by a few weeks ago to hang out in Geneva and see what makes this community so special. I was privileged to spend a couple of hours with Lance Schwartz and yak a little about my life here as an artist.

Here you go!

2016 Patricia Scarborough  First Light  9x12 Pastel
This is the final painting, started while Lance was breathing over my shoulder. To see what else happens in the life of Geneva Nebraska, check out Our Town Geneva on 10/11 Now!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Just a Name

To this day I don’t know what happened. I zigged when I should have zagged, or the earth shifted to the left, or maybe my studio is haunted. At any rate, 2 entire trays of pastel sticks leapt off the table and crashed to the floor. That would be maybe 250 pieces of pigment ranging from palest to darkest in blues, greens and violets.

  Y’know those times when you are so stunned all you can do is gape like a fish?

As luck would have it, a friend had recently sold me the last of her high-quality stash of pastels, and I knew that someday, somehow they would be integrated into my already full trays. What better time than the moment I am ankle deep – literally – in sticks already strewn hither and yon?

Four days later…

I ask you: what color is “wode”? Where does “heliotrope” fit on the color wheel? Is “aerial yellow” yellow-er than “atmosphere”?  And what about “#106”? Is it warmer than, say, “B712”?

I'm an equal-opportunity pastel purchaser. Great American, Diane Townsend, Art Spectrum - if its the right color, I'll buy it.

Oil paints are mostly labeled according to a historical system using clarifying words like ultramarine blue. This is a warm blue, always a warmer than prussian blue, which is always a very cool blue. Always. Cadmium red is an established color that varies only slightly from brand to brand. It is red

Pastel sticks are numbered and named according to whomever owns the label. Is “dead head” warmer than “sinopia”?  P12 lighter than 782.10? Compare 106 to orange, please.

Would you buy a painting if you knew it were splattered with “dragon’s blood”?
Same color, different value. Or is it? 
Is it warmer than "purange"? For those of you who keep up with my meanderings, as it turns out, purange is most likely dead head. Or sinopia. Caput mortuum, maybe. One of those. 

At any rate, re-configuring several hundreds of sticks of color has opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities.  Two weeks ago my hand would have grabbed a color out of habit. Now I scan new hues, intensities and combinations, (regardless of their name). 

2016 Patricia Scarborough Coming and Going  9.5x9.5 pastel
What started out as disaster has actually given me a bump in a new direction, and I like it. 

Still, would Ray Charles's masterpiece sound the same if it were "Am I Wode?