Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vision-Cloud Over Me

Cloud Over Me
And How Do You Feel Today?
30" x 40"
pastel on vellum
This pastel painting is large and is in an expressionistic style.
This is one of the assignments that I gave, as the need arose, when I was teaching, and something that has been given in workshops I have attended. When things happened, especially things that would affect students, such as a tragedy in the school or community, or even when I noticed that students seemed to be in need of expressing their feelings in a positive way, I would pull out paper, as large as possible, art supplies that allowed for quite a bit of freedom to work fairly rapidly, and, perhaps, put on music. Often, I taped the large paper on the board and stapled paper to bulletin boards, and all of us worked together. I was there to encourage, provide help, if needed, and give a little guidance.
Sometimes, we would just work on "How Do You Feel Today" assignments, when things were good. And, at times, I just allowed a few minutes in class to draw in a sketchbook or on paper, in order to express feelings.
These type of assignments worked for both writing and art. There just had to be adjustments for space and materials used.
And, it was important to finish in one sitting or class period. It doesn't work very well to put this sort of work aside to work on later, since things happen and feelings and mood can change between times. Sometimes, it works to get that intitial feeling down, then come back to make a more finished work later. But, usually, it is hard to get that same feeling or energy back. Finishing touches can be added successfully, but it's hard to sustain that same feeling that the artist started with after some time has passed. It almost seems as if that left brain takes over and says "use this color. use this kind of line, this kind of paint", etc. while, at the beginning, the right brain says nothing and just guides you to select colors, fill in shapes, and move in the way that would best express that mood.
Working tight and small tends to restrict feelings and force the creator to work smaller and tighter. To really loosen up, it helps to use large materials and big movements that allow the body to move.
I like to begin with a whole piece of compressed charcoal, oil pastel, or pastel. Even if it is for warm up exercises. If I use pencil, I try to hold the pencil loosely, by the side, and make many gestural type of lines. And I like to use very large paper or canvas. The 30" x 40" is a nice size paper, but I even like to use a roll of newsprint or other large paper. As I work with large materials, I gain more energy as I work, which shows up in my work. It also helps physically. Tiredness and headaches seem to be relieved as I gain energy. (I think it has to do with using a different side of the brain, the right side, allowing the tired, left side to rest. That's just my personal thought and experience.)
If I start with a pencil and a small piece of paper, I tend to get tighter and smaller as I work. I find myself gripping the drawing tool tightly, I get tired, headachey, and stressed, trying to make things "right". But, still, I often work this way, just because of the space needed, the ease of using the materials, and the few supplies required. It's just more convenient.
The same is true of using watercolors. They don't require as much in the way of materials, or space, they dry fast, clean up easily, and don't make a mess. I even use a travel set of watercolors and a film container for water, and a sketchbook or just watercolor paper in my clip board, for convenience. On the other hand, you can work fairly large with watercolors, too, and you can be pretty free with them. The drawback, to me, in using watercolors is the expense in framing. You must use a mat and glass or plexiglass to cover and protect them.
Oil paints and acrylics can be used in an expressive manner, of course, but they tend to be more messy and require more clean up and drying time. In classes, there wasn't that much time, or space, with just 5 minutes in between classes to get one class out of the way, and begin the next class. One sink with one faucet for a whole class of students and the teacher didn't help matters.
Pastels and oil pastels worked well for standing up, didn't require a lot of immediate clean up, other than hand washing, which could be done in restrooms. And, tables could be cleaned at lunch time, conference period, and after school. The dust would wash off.
The picture above, "Cloud Over Me" seems to fit in with my experiences with Macular Degeneration. There is an oppressive cloud, always lingering. A cloud that goes from energy and joy to frustration, sadness, fear, anxiety, panic, anger, helplessness, then blends into a cool calm of sorrow and acceptance, knowing that there is nothing that I can do. A cloud of things that others always seem to be able to control, hangs over me-demands for money, ability to do things that are out of my reach, witholding medical care, friendship, or even simple kindnesses.
There are boiling clouds that go from hot to cold, with tails of wind and tornado funnels hanging below. Dark, driving rain pounds the earth on the left side of the picture. A beaten , windblown figure crouches below the cloud, hands hanging limply, waiting for the storm to hit, trying to protect herself from the hovering storm. A younger figure, in the light, reaches out. The promise of sunlight and fair weather is beyond the storm. Is it all in the past, or is it yet to come? When will this storm cloud dissipate and clear skies return.
Or, "Cloud Over Me" could be about a day of rushing off to work, trying to get family and self moving, argueing, going to work, more difficulty with bosses, students, administrators, parents, going home to bills and more stress, fighting traffic during the commute, going and coming, going to evening meetings with more stresses to meet goals or conflict between people, or staying at home, preparing for the next day, with plans, grading papers, fighting with the computer, with meals and cleaning, laundry, personal care, getting everyone off to bed, ready to do it all over again the next day. And, all the while trying to fit in an extra job, art work, writing, activities, and a little tv time (where you can find more people argueing). A good tongue lashing from a boss, angry teenager, hostile parent, or other person could also generate this feeling.
And how are you feeling today?
For me, today has been kind of a lazy day. Sleeping late after spending a few days painting, and staying off the computer. The clouds seem to be in the overcast sky outside. My eyes do get tired and the green area that surrounds the purple spot in my eye that has the AMD seems to be larger. I noticed a lot of green over whatever I tried to look at on tv last night.
Be sure to check out the links to Artists and Authors and Interesting Sites on the right side of my page. One new site is that of Hobo Teacher. If you have ever been, or known, a teacher, or been to school, you can relate to his website. Also, Esther Read let me know that one of her articles on our high school English teacher, Loma Brannon, was published in the "Corpus Christi Caller Times" newspaper. That brings back memories of people in many places, who had memorable teachers. And, Virginia Vaughan is preparing to show all of her paintings of "The Last Year On The Farm". Many of those are on her website, along with more information.
If you are an artist, over age 60, you might check out the September, 2007 issue of "The Artist's" magazine. There is a call for entries on page 9. You can also look at their website, . I found a bit more information on their blog on the website.
Be sure and let me know if you see something that interests you. I welcome comments and inquiries. Thanks for reading and sharing my work with others who might be interested.

No comments: