When I am beginning a new series of paintings, I struggle to find an image, a theme to ground me and tie the pieces together. I get impatient, and wonder at how long it takes. I feel an urgency to go out and seize an image, to make something happen. I remind myself that it works better for me to be indirect, to allow an image to alight and make itself known. This is not as esoteric as it may sound. I set an intention to be receptive, to show up each day, and begin. I pay attention to dreams, and to waking life as if it is a dream. Each detail is important. What captures my imagination? I took a walk in the woods and carried paper and a chunk of graphite. I began rubbing the bark of elm trees. There were figures in the bark. I let images suggest themselves.
Here is a rubbing of a floor mat outside our classroom in Venice:
From this rubbing I extracted a mark, and wrote with a shell and ink:
This mark became the letter "O" in my sketchbook writing:
Kathryn Van Aernum, a long time student and friend, began elaborating with rubbings on rubbings. Here is the first one:
In the next one she added color. This practice has led to interactions with her photography and painting, and the lively energy that comes with staying with the ordinary long enough for it to become miraculous. When an image resonates, we are on fire!
I remind myself that the point is to begin, and be consistent about showing up, and something will develop. Gottfried Pott said that there are three steps: readiness, beginning, IT happens.
The world’s fullness is not made but found (Richard Wilbur)
How do you go about beginning a new series of work?
To see more of Kathryn's work: http://vanaernumstudios.com/market