Friday, February 4, 2011

About Frivolity

At lunch this week a dear friend encouraged me to relax some of the restraints I was applying to the more frivolous vein in which I am tempted to work. I am fond of the lavish work of people like Gustav Klimt, William Morris, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I like Liberty prints and small paisleys and small flowery design on wall paper. Illuminated manuscripts, Islamic design, all these are complex, highly detailed and decorative arts. I delight in them. And if I just give in to the inclination, that kind of decorative pattern making will flow into my painting.

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum was housed in my alma mater, The Cooper Union. I looked at fabrics and wallpaper and whatever artifacts were displayed there during breaks from class. Then I went back to being a budding abstract expressionist because that is what were trying to be back then. And long after that I became the person who loves and respects the art of minimalists like Ellsworth Kelly and the beautiful and rich simplicity of Sean Scully. No wonder it gets confusing.

I don’t need art to have “meaning”. My choice in reading is mostly fiction which I read for the pleasure of it. It doesn’t matter that this reading is sometimes about tragic lives; the enjoyment of the experience is that it that transports you to a place outside yourself. I will leave to people who know more of human psychology than I to explain why we take that trip watching the small screen or large, by reading of others’ lives, real or imagined, or any of the other ways we find to rest away from our own routines or cares for a moment. Goodbye reality, enough for now. May blessings rain on Netflix and my local library. What luxuries they are.

But I have digressed. I went to my studio after the above mentioned lunch conversation and back to work on a painting that had gone wrong and lost its promise. I decorated it freely and it began to resurrect. Then I gave it some structure (it needed discipline) and it came alive. After that I finished (almost) the two I have posted above. They and the one I just described (at left) are mavericks, far less structured than the others in this series of thirty-two pieces I am focused on now.

I try to keep this blog from becoming personal; I would prefer to keep it about art and life, and I would like to keep it short. A losing battle, both.

These three paintings are still untitled, not yet finished and included in the Structures series currently in progress, mixed media works, 26” x 20” each.


  1. What else is there besides art and life? It IS personal.
    Love you, have a great weekend!

  2. Well, you know. If the thoughts expressed are about what one does, how is that any more interesting or important that what anyone else does? If I speak only of myself or my own experience, how does that become something that adds to somebody else's store? And why should anyone read what I write if it is of no benefit to him/her?
    I like to write this blog. I want it to be read. So I think I need to be offering something of value. I am not sure if I can speak of myself and make it useful in some way to my reader. I have no answers to any of this; maybe I'll expand upon it in a blog.

  3. Joan, we are much the richer for your two "lost battles".

  4. Thank you again. I love your work and read your blog faithfully! I copy your images now and each week put your work on my Facebook page as my profile picture!

  5. I am most drawn in when the story becomes personal. In spite of common sense suggesting that other artists must go through the same struggles and self-doubts, it is encouraging to learn that someone who produces work that is so very extraordinary also feels doubt and frustration before it is finished (and sometimes after). And you write so well. I love reading each week and come away thinking about it during the day in the studio. I love the quotes and your take on things. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

  6. Hmmm. Maybe just giving free rein to one's impulses would be the right choice of life-style. But, no, think of how I'd look and feel after eating all that chocolate. And I don't even want to think about some of the other ways I might cause myself trouble. Maybe even with the law.
    But, okay. I will give up trying to curb some of these nefarious tendencies.
    Good to hear from you, Lorenzo. I send my love.

  7. Hi Terry, I'd love to check out your blog and see you on Facebook but I can't find you.

  8. Hi Regina, Thank you, I love getting your comments. And I am finding that as I do more of it, I am getting hooked on writing. I have never thought of writing in the same vein as painting but that is beginning to change. Amazing how much there is to do in a life that is so short.
    Love, J.

  9. I couldn't say it better than Regina did. I love your art writings, and your personal writings.

    And the new paintings are gorgeous!

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a nice way to start the week.