Process Diary and Some CreativeTips from Charles Bukowski via Tom Waits

Tess Farnham, acrylic on artist's panel: Lily of the Valley

Last night as I was poring through my collection of gardening catalogs, tearing at pages with white flowers mostly: roses,  irises, magnolia. . .I was thinking about the mixed media piece I wanted to finish, but also getting an itch to paint again.  So now I’ve taped more photos over the drafting board and small easel, assembled my brushes and paints. . .the prints from Chagall and Degas are permanent fixtures. Sometimes I add or subtract things, but the photo(s) in the bottom right corner is/are always changing from project to project.  Mother Nature has a way with the arrangement of color and line and I like to follow her suggestions for abstract.

This is almost a spiritual activity for me. I am particular and superstitious about these two things; the same way a little kid can be vigilant about avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, I am persistent about avoiding a naked workspace. After I finish one project and clear the easel or table, I go to the basement and take out a new canvas or wood panel. . .depending on the project, a sheet of Arches, Canson Mixed Media or Mei Teints paper. I may not touch that blank slate for days; nevertheless, I find its placement necessary. It’s my dreaming time, a time for walking past the table or easel and imagining the possibilities.

Chagall Museum Paintings, Nice, France

Image by Jon Himoff via Flickr

In the same way, I also like to have drafts of poetry or blog posts accessible. . .folded fabric and patterns. . .the spices set out for a dish I plan to cook.

Last night, I also spent some downtime reading Sylvia Plath, Rumi, and Robert Bly.

I need to rest in between projects as well. I have to crash. . .to sleep for hours and hours, I guess to incubate and charge my batteries. I think perhaps it’s part of what we do as artists, these periods of intense creating followed by quiet time. Perhaps it’s just mania followed by depression. ..I’m not sure. . ..the scariest feeling being the one when I fear the sleepiness won’t go away. ..I won’t ever write or paint again. ..or be able to stay awake.

And on this final note, I will end with an amazing clip of Tom Waits reading Charles Bukowski, two of my favorite artists, guys who are quite familiar with the reality of the outsider stance and the very real feelings that lead to it.  I hope it inspires you.  . . .

Garden Still Life

“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not
anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they
themselves never hoped to see – or like a sealed letter they could not plainly
read. ” —Alice Walker

Yesterday I finished my iris painting, an act which left my easel empty again. . .so afterwards I assembled this outdoor still life with a little help from a gardener friend next door.  I already had the peace roses, yarrow, and coral bells in my yard.  Mary provided the yellow gerbera daisies, lilies, and a few lacy varieties I can’t name at the moment.

I snapped some photos of the bouquet to set aside for future paintings.

Later I brought my easel outdoors to photograph the new painting.  The outdoor light really changed the look of the work, making it seem a little flat and washed out. . .so out came the brushes for some sunlight tweaking. A couple of hours later, I felt like I was really finished (again).

It was nice to see Mary’s reaction when I showed her the new work. Now that the original iris has dropped its petals, the painted one is bringing back some happy memories. 🙂

And now for something completely different:

Mixed Media and Photo Collage: “Eve Meets Bess”

http://www.etsy.com/listing/49341143/burlesque-dance-hall-jane-russell

Lily of the Valley

And in his left he held a basket full
Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull
Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still
Than Leda’s love, and cresses from the rill.
John Keats (1), Endymion (bk. I, l. 155)

http://www.etsy.com/listing/75100932/lily-of-the-valley-print-of-original

This piece evolved and evolved after putting in the initial strokes. ..lots of layers and some modeling paste added to the tiny blossoms.  The scent of these sends me straight back to the house my parents rented when I was little.  There was a corner grocer  on one side. ..and in spring the shade sheltered rows of these little cloudbursts of scent, such tender stems and sturdy.  We’d gather them and use for May baskets, those little cones made of staples and construction paper, then stuffed with popcorn and flowers.