This past week I have been working on this painting for the bedroom. Tonight I caught my cat Lily doing her best odalisque beside it so I snapped these shots of them together.
This new work, which is the second of a new and on-going tribute series, was inspired by my love of blues, jazz, folk and gospel music. I so admire these artists, whose throaty and gutsy homage to heartbreak and survival are soundtrack to my own creative process.
features (clockwise from top) Koko Taylor, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Lena Horne, Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Marie Knight, Ella Fizgerald, Bessie Smith. (click on image to see print)
This original mixed media textured piece was given to a friend as a thank you gift recently, but I’ve made prints of it now! Here is a link to see it on Etsy. 🙂 https://www.etsy.com/listing/153525298/peach-purple-maroon-lavender-floral
Here’s a new piece I did for my son’s wedding. It’s a mixed media piece that I’ve had made into prints. Love, Tess
“Crystal Ball,” photocollage by Tess Farnham”
So in the past, I have admitted to being one of those artists who grapples with intense bouts of sadness, bouts that are at times so gripping and intense you can barely hold a brush in your hand, let alone steady the thing for detail or realism. The curves turn linear and the lines wave and bend with trembling. You erase and erase until the frustration just leads to tears and the tearing up of preliminary sketches and grids.
At some point in this process you finally get so exasperated, you just grab the closest implement of application and let the strokes go where they will.
This piece actually began as a much darker work with lots of primary colors for contrast; it was a piece that I cherished mostly because its importance to a friend of mine, nevertheless, a piece that I had more or less made to suit his tastes instead of mine.
As it happens, I store blank canvases in the same corner of the basement where I store finished works. And the other night as I was flipping through to find the size I wanted, my eyes fell upon that painting. ..and I started to think of how much I wanted to take out those awful strokes of ocher and red. . .
So instead of starting fresh, I decided to go to work there.
After I had taken this painting upstairs, I noticed that there was a tiny ding in the wood support where it had been dropped on the basement floor. At first discouraged by this discovery, I quickly recovered when I realized I could patch it.
With lacy mesh from an old curtain panel, its mate lost in the fog somewhere now. A slumping and ravaged mishap in a heap on the chair beside the easel like a castoff bridal veil.
I cut the bandages haphazardly, applying them to the corners of the canvas as reinforcement. Afterwards, I applied some gel medium and paint to anchor them.
Next came coats of color and gel medium mixed with pearlescent powders to address the areas where the piece had fallen short of my vision of a completed work. Blues and maroons, mixed and unmixed with dabs of this and that and at times patched together with leaves shakily extracted from that cast off curtain.
A couple of hours later, I was finished. Happy and satiated that I’d lifted myself out of this sad spell, but also had done sufficient triage to resurrect a work that had gone to a corner of my basement to die.
So this is how I lifted myself out of the doldrums over the weekend. I just put myself into Marilyn’s dress and went to outer space. If you look closely, you will see the car that jumped over the moon!
A day or so ago, I wrote about the “God” creative writing experiment and mentioned how illuminating it was to listen as my students read their free-writes and spontaneous poetry aloud. And also how it began with one student sort of expressing reticence about speaking his mind because he seemed to fear it would lead to judgement and criticism, but that as he read, he just grew stronger and more grounded in his personal beliefs and was reassured by several other students who more or less shared similar feelings.
I also explained that my next goal was help draw out the shyer students at the back of the class, those who seemed to fear the same thing. The latter pair also struggling to share as well.
I had left the class feeling like I needed to validate where they were coming from as we had spent quite a bit of our discussion time on fears and doubts and breaking free of what many saw as a form of forced faith. . .something that was more or less handed down from generation to generation, strong in traditional adherence to a set of rules that didn’t always resonate.
We were able to establish common ground and caring, looking to core beliefs such as the practice of love and compassion. . .it was the dogma that more or less got in the way of a meeting of the minds.
Some students admitted that while they felt uncomfortable with the inconsistencies and hypocrisy practiced by others of their chosen faith, they themselves were still able to find peace and freedom in another kind of upbringing, one wherein those core beliefs remained the basis for their spiritual existence, and this at times within the same setting that had left so many feeling oppressed and questioning.
And I left class feeling kind of sad for them, as it seemed as if they too were struggling to be heard.
So this motivated me to search for poems to help draw them out a little, maybe explore some ways to write about their own journeys, as these like-minded writers had done.
And so here then is some inspiration and validation for them:
Gerard Manley “Hip” Hopkins, “Spring”
|The Angel that presided ‘oer my birth|
|by William Blake|
The Angel that presided 'oer my birth Said, "Little creature, form'd of Joy and Mirth, "Go love without the help of any Thing on Earth."
direct link to “Every Grain of Sand” in case the above imbedded one malfunctions. 🙂