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June 11, 2011

Killing Me Softly


In progress. I was going to crop the image, but I always think it's funny when something outside of the canvas lines up perfectly with a mark on the canvas, so I left it in situ.

I also think it's funny that it looks like a small painting. It's 52 x 43 inches. It's killing me to remain true to local color and a limited palette. TRYING to keep a straight line at that scale and TRYING to keep the background in the back is mentally hard. I want to deviate. Blame it on the paint. I like rules, but it's driving me crazy. Yesterday, I imagined throwing out every tube of green, along with all my blues and yellows after this is over. I suspect it will continue to morph, but my rule is that it must represent the plant clipping. Less some unsuspecting visitor think I'm just painting a plant for the helluva it, I mentioned earlier that it is a plant clipping from a 100-year-old plant that died. I don't make sketches on the canvas beforehand, so in that sense it's like the abstract work with constant negotiations. I keep swearing I will never work like this at this scale again, and yet, I'm thinking of torturing myself and doing a series of them based on the concept of propagation, though I doubt I have the stamina. Whoever said telling the truth is easier than lying was lying. Maybe it is a lie, maybe that's why is so hard. I'm telling a lie and I have to keep covering up my lies. This all begs the question of why I'm even back with representational work, or perhaps to better phrase the query, why the deviation away from abstract again. I don't know. That's a lie, too.

I went far outside my comfort level today and had a friend, a civilian, sit for me. A little over an hour later, I threw in the towel. At a certain point, I felt like a 2-year old. I just wanted to play with the paint. I wanted it to be over and felt guilty for asking someone to sit for me when it became obvious it wasn't going anywhere fast.  How is it that I can remain interested in a lamp, a plant, or a swimming pool, but not a face? She was sitting in half darkness so half her face was in dark shadow. I had no real lighting to see my canvas. It was a disaster on all fronts. I get why people strive to paint representationally- immediate gratification- plus the pats on the back for making something look like something. You never get that with abstract painting. Abstract painting is an intrinsic activity. Representational painting is an extrinsic activity. Painting shouldn't be a chore. It's 92 degrees. I wish I had a functioning swimming pool. That's all I'm good for today. Idleness. And whining. I'm also tired of house chores and the computer. And food. I'm bored with food.

11 comments :

Elaine Mari said...

"This all begs the question of why I'm even back with representational work, or perhaps to better phrase the query, why the deviation away from abstract again. "

There is a good interview with Thomas Nozkowski in Turps Banana issue 7 where he says "It's important to find new things to do, new subjects, new reasons to paint."

Sometimes the new can be going back to the old in a new way. In that interview he also talks about rejecting one style of working 0r a "signature style" ack I hate that phrase.

What you said about the difference between representational and abstract resonates. Maybe that's why I'm moving more and more toward abstracting in what I'm doing. Back and forth, back and forth.

"Painting shouldn't be a chore." I agree, the hard part is remembering that.

MAH said...

I loathe "signature style" too. My last "signature style" probably would have been my paintings from 2007, but I kept going somewhere different, more challenging. I finally accepted the diversity within the work as the work, but even so, it requires a knowing audience lest they think you're a dilettante. And there always going to be someone who's not on board. I will look up that interview. I like nozkowski.

Carla said...

There is something poignantly funny about the painting, to me anyway. At this scale, it wants to read as a big bad-ass graphic/pop plant painting, but it's so delicately rendered, that it falls in some other territory.

Was your sitter in the 92 degree heat too?

Mary Addison Hackett said...

I think nearly all of my work is poignantly funny by default. I came across an index card where I had written down what my ex had said about my work- that my paintings looked like I "didn't quite get my arm out of my sleeve when I painted it." It still brings a chortle and tears of funny (mixed in with the bittersweet) to my eyes.

Awkward people paint awkward pics. If only I didn't have those 2 art degrees, I could exist quite happily in the realm of the outsider. Curse conceptual art and postmortem theory.

No, we were inside.

Elaine Mari said...

To me, when I crop off the top bit, it becomes something elegant and lovely in it's poignancy, I hope you don't mind me saying that. It has everything, awkwardness, elegance, emotion, daring. I like it very much.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

No, i don't mind, but what top bit are you referring to? I hate sounding like a formalist, but I'm attached to the window pane. I have to put the shake-a-pudding text on the cup. I mean, I don't HAVE to, but I need to.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

Oh, and thank you. These rep works are fun, but vulnerable.

Elaine Mari said...

Oh, I just meant, when I crop out the background, not anything on the painting. I find the line matching up funny too, but without it and the blue tape on the wall behind you can see the aspects of the painting I was talking about. Putting the Shake a Pudding on it will bring it into something more, I am looking forward to seeing it.

lucy mink said...

I have these two subjects (my kids) in front of me everyday i am afraid if i paint them, if i go down that road there will be no turning back, sometimes i want to just paint their stuff, somewhere i figure it shows up. I have always worked in an abstract way but have this closeted craving for mixing in something else down the road, I figure Gianna at this point will force it out of me.

I really love the pontiac portrait and the plant. I think all that you do is being true to yourself. I love that you write about it so honestly, I have been a terrible blogger lately.
I painted a blonde cat for my son last year because he asked me to and how could i not, its not what i do(paint cats) but its part of my real life. I have not painted a self portrait since 1993, i keep thinking about doing it because i want Gianna to start doing them.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

@lm, I keep thinking I've done abstract all my life, but when I first started painting I was influenced by the neo-expressionists. I just called everything abstract. The closeted craving is what got to me. It started with one painting of an empty pool. I thought it was a one-off and then someone saw it hanging in my bathroom and made a big to-do about it. (A representational artist I might add.) Real life and the need to be more specific is important to me now. I think it shows up in the abstract work, but with the abstract work, there's always an out. I think it would be great to do self-portraits along side your kids. I wonder if I've hit a point of no return. The challenge of defining myself through various incarnations via self-portrait sounds deliciously improbable. Good luck in NH. FB can be a good substitute for blogging sometime.

Lucy mink said...

I finally got to read this today, I have been in kid/box land for 3 days. I saw a house listed a while back here with a really old empty pool, needless to say I looked at it differently because of your paintings.

I have only been following your career since you have been in Nashville so I imagine if I were in your situation I couldn't help myself I would probably paint my fathers things, but yes in a way that is not always obvious, maybe sometimes it's just for myself or yourself? I think it's that I relate to my dad, he's not an artist but he gets it.