Care Dimensions Commission: What is a Blank Canvas?

The three 62 x 31 x 3 inch panels in the studio, September 2017.

A blank canvas is many things to an artist.  It’s a challenge and an opportunity. Having ordered the three panels from my friend “Ron the framer,” I secured the base sheet of pulp to the surfaces and am ready to begin the painting (left). This is both an intimidating moment and one of pure thrill. I love the challenge of working in multiples and on a large scale with imagery that needs to work harmoniously, as one unit, in tandem with its neighboring paintings. The subject of each painting needs to flow back and forth so that one compliments the others, all the while holding its own identity. This is a far more challenging task than when working on a single image that does not need to share space with other work.

Me taking photos of the wall for which the three panels will be installed. October, 2017.

Because I work with architects and designers, the blank canvas extends to the intended space where the work will be installed. Often, this space is the construction site-full of dust and debris.  I honestly love visiting the site, donning a hard hat and photographing the soon to be completed wall.  The busy workers, noisy power tools, and smell of production are reminders for why I enjoy making site specific work.  I love the companionship of working with people who see a vision, a future space where one does not currently exist. In many ways, this is what I see as an artist looking at a blank canvas: a future space where one does not currently exist.

Next post: the beginning stage of the paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” Leonardo da Vinci

My commission for the new Care Dimensions facility in Waltham, MA.

It is with great joy that I share with you that I am working on a commission for the new Care Dimensions Facility in Waltham, MA.  This commission consists of three original 62x 31 x 3 inch paintings of nature scenes inspired by Walden Pond.  Since Walden Pond has had an historical impact on the local culture, it seems an appropriate subject for the paintings.

As far as the subject is concerned, the inclusion of trees suggests seasonal changes and the water represents a nourishing force that reflects the intentions of this care-giving space.  The pathway in the center painting refers to life’s journey, sometimes smooth, sometimes jagged, but always moving into the future.

These three images were chosen from examples previously supplied by Meg Black  to                 members of the Care Dimensions staff during an on site meeting, August, 2017.

The paintings will be created using abaca, (commercially used for marine cordage and nautical rope), cotton, linen, canvas, pigment and pearlescent pigment.

The paintings will be delivered to Care Dimensions in Waltham later this year and will be installed by the opening reception that will take place sometime in early 2018.

I am very grateful to the staff of Care Dimensions for entrusting me with this exciting, and, having worked with Hospice when my dad was sick with cancer, emotional commission.  It is my goal and intent to create, in the words of Michelangelo with regard to his commission for the Pieta, the most beautiful work of art I can possibly make.

I look forward to posting updates about this commission as it progresses throughout the next few months.

Video of my new painting, Rocks and Water as Metaphor for Life’s Journey.

Rocks and Water: Art historical inspirations.

I am often asked “what influences you as an artist?” The answer depends on the subject I am working on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For this Rock and Water as self-portrait painting, I considered the sculpture of Doryphoros (the spear barer) by Polykleitus.
In this classical Greek work, Polycletus does an outstanding job with the zigzagging lines that flow up the sculpture. Notice how the feet are going in one direction, the knees in the opposite direction from the feet, the hips follow the knees and are contrasted with direction of the chest, etc., all the way up to the head, which follows the direction of the feet-where the sculpture begins. Brilliant. I tried to do something similar with this painting: the rocks are rough, the tide pool smooth; the next set of rocks is rough again, the shoreline is smooth; the waves are rough, the ocean water is smooth, the sky is rough again-same as when the painting begins with the rough rocks. Thank you Polycletus for being such a great composition teacher.

 

 

 

The other artist I was influenced by as I worked on this painting was Winslow Homer. His seascapes are churning, rough, jagged. I love the blue/greens he uses. He gives seascape painting a good name. I love anything he does where it concerns water. I tried to make my waves the same blue/green color and make them churn as he does.

 

 

 

Finally, I have to say JMW Turner’s Slave Ship with its boiling water and death defying waves is just awe inspiring. The way he makes a yellow sun appear angry and how the ship is tossing in the wind is one of my favorite moments in art history. Very happy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston owns this famous painting so I can visit it often.

Day Nine: Rocks and Water as metaphor for life’s journey.

Rocks and Water as Self Portrait 2017), 40 x 40 x 3 inches, pulp painting.

Start of day nine. I begin today’s studio session with the goal of painting the waves so they appear to be crashing up against the rocks and in contrast to the calm waters of the tide pool in the foreground.  For me, this is where the metaphor of rocks and water as life’s journey comes together.

The ocean water is soft and cool at the shoreline, but, when the weather conditions are right, the ocean tide relentlessly crashes against the hard rocks.  The rocks weigh much more than the water, but the strength of the crashing waves can literally move the rocks into new formations. Ultimately, the rocks are smoothed by the water,   and over time, they will disintegrate.

The crashing waves represents how life challenges us-often unexpectedly.  These sometimes violent storms shift us much like the waves shift the formations of the rocks.  We long for the stillness of the tide pool, but we find our strength when we are challenged by the storms.

Similarly, we want to see ourselves strong like the rocks, able to weather the most violent storms.  But time softens us, heals us, the storms we weather wizen us.  We are smoothed at the edges and anticipate the next storm, for which we increasingly know we can weather.

Rocks and Water as Self Portrait, MFA Thesis exhibit, Massachusetts College of Art, 1989.

This metaphor for life is why I have returned to the subject of rocks and water as self-portrait for close to 30 years now.  The paintings in my MFA thesis exhibit from Massachusetts College of Art back in 1989 featured this same subject.  Even then, as I was just starting out on my journey as an artist, I saw this connection between rocks and water and life’s journey.  Here goes: day nine.

 

 

 

 

Day Seven: Rocks and Water as Self Portrait.

Day seven. The water section needs a lot of work-more energy, increase the crashing waves. This is the part of the creative process that is difficult. The painting feels to me that it is going nowhere. Faith in the process is crucial at this point. #megblackstudios

Day Six: Rocks and Water as Self Portrait, applying the foreground.

Rocks and water as metaphor for self portrait, day 6. I see the pool of water in the foreground-quiet, cool, reflective (literally), as the quietness of life-cell phone free! The waves , however, represent the endless activity of life-crashing through our reverie when we least expect it. #seascape #megblackstudios.

Rocks and Water as Self Portrait: Day five

End of day five: sides of painting are glued down to the armature and pulp is added to the surface.

Day Four: Applying the background colors.

Day four: Today I applied the background colors and reconfigured the palette. The sides of the painting are as of yet not glued to the back of the armature. That will happen sometime next week. My goal today is to shore up the details in the rock areas and add more motion to the waves.

Day One: Laying out the grid and painting in the background.

Day one: Colored grids are measured by inches and 1/2 inches and marked up on the photographs. A corresponding grid pattern in 10 inch increments is marked onto surface of the painting. The surface is made up of beaten cotton and abaca pulp. I use a combination of red, black, green and blue china crayons as grid markers. Once I complete the grid pattern, I apply beaten abaca pulp to what will be the under-painting.

 

 

 

    The background color in this photo is the blue area which will ultimately become the water.