“Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did if for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” excerpt from Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking -Glass and What Alice Found There
Big Sunflower River
I have fallen down a few rabbit holes while chasing after dreams and putting them on to canvas. The reality of my life is, that I am sometimes quite sure, I am trapped or caught in a parallel of wonderland. A land where I am forced to make sense of everything, while thinking it all very strange and unusual. At this very moment, the very River that has brought me so much enjoyment is the very nemesis that threatens to take all that I possess. I somehow stepped into this without warning and must await the rise and fall of the three rivers in my area as the Great Flood of 2011 plays out. A man-made gate and levee are all that stand between the beginning and end of my home here. I have to believe the system will work as impossible as it seems. Can man outsmart nature? I sure hope so, I am praying for it.
The studio is eerily quiet now, waiting for inspiration to overtake fear and anxiety. This is a blog about the series I was working on when this watery worry began. I have yet to really titled the series, but it is all about a deeper meaning of Alice In Wonderland and how it relates to my life and journey. I have always loved the original story of Alice in Wonderland, as a child because it conjured up an entertaining life of talking animals and riddles to solve, but as an adult it resonates on a deeper more serious level. I find the correlation of Alice to myself to be a reflecting connection seen through layers of thoughts and ideas. My soul is in this series as it hits closer to home for me, than any series I have painted to date. The paintings in this series are extremely textural and somewhat cryptic at first glance but it is my hope that they are nothing less than interesting. I find if I can divorce myself from the “selling” aspect of art, I am much more apt to paint something unhindered by preconceived ideas. With the freedom of painting for painting’s sake, I head down new rabbit holes with the idea of finding a truer and more genuine way of expression. In this case I started with works on paper. I chose to start this way because in the past several years, I have had an increasingly hard time selling anything that has to be framed with glass, this would automatically alleviate any first thoughts of selling this series. Now onto the work..
My goal with this series is to try and make art that hits closer to my pure thoughts about the subject, having no ties to beauty, just simply and authentically a statement of what I feel about the subject or subjects. This subject is edgy, it is at times raw and painful; and I want to portray it that way, it is not new, but time worn and I want it to look as if it has been around for a long time, I am aiming for layers of texture and minimal color. I want the gist to be about the meaning behind the pieces and not about technique. With this thought in mind I will talk about the thinking processes and the decisions that led me to the making of this painting rather than the technique and application process.
Okay so here goes..
I have found in the layering process when I work with figures they often are painted, only to be painted and repainted many times. I think it gives my figures a maturity, that I like much better, than when I plan it out and simply paint them on the painting in one pass.
I read a book once about square halos, and for some reason, it kept popping into my mind and I tried with gold leaf to create a square halo. I might add when I paint, I will often think of an idea and try to use it on a painting even if it does not relate to the painting at that point. I find this is a great way to stretch your creativity, you have to either make it work, or paint it out, but either way, you have given yourself a new direction and even if it does not work out, you have another layer of texture on the painting.
All this to say as you will see in the next stage, I could not resolve this to be in this series; but, I found some very wonderful ways to use and layer the gold leaf in the process. Well worth the extra paint and effort for sure. Well, since I could not relate the halo to Alice in the painting “off with the halo”.
I am finding my figure is not what I am after for this series; so, I refine the figure by painting in several more layers, both on the figure and around it. At this point I add a rabbit.
I am beginning to feel some of the emotion that has swirled around in my head over the past few weeks. Alice and the rabbit, helplessness,chasing, submission, entrapment, wonder, these are the key words that describe this piece to me. I will not go into my personal meaning behind this piece, but I hope it will have some relevance to others.
Adding some details to the figure. I am careful to not add extraneous details as too much is far worse than too little at this point. The goal for me is the give ample movement and gesture to the figure in order to relieve the need for definitive details. Too much definition would steal the anonymity from the figure.
“We are all quite mad here”, so I placed the rabbit in a bell jar! I left the edges raw and unfinished, which like imagination should have no boundaries or edges. I think this describes my life quite well and I am satisfied with the painting at this point.
Alice and the Bell Jar
28x 28 mixed media on paper