Every person’s cage is of a different sort. We may feel trapped by our jobs, our circumstances, even the things that we own. Even the most opulent and luxurious of places can seem like a prison. As I begin contemplating a new body of work, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of freedom, of space to move. A feeling of space doesn’t necessarily correlate to a large building– depending on our state of mind, we can feel more free in a tiny studio than an extravagant mansion.
For us, feeling confined correlates with traffic and overpopulation. We feel most free surrounded only by trees and mountains. But for you, it might be different. The thought of being out in the wide open wild might seem incredibly imprisoning. The important thing is to be able to identify what it is that makes you feel free and then run headlong straight for it.
We know that we have at least three months here in Southeastern Idaho. But we are now into Autumn and the season can be short lived at the higher elevations where we most want to explore. So Mr. F and I have been up before the sun each Saturday to drive up to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, to seize the opportunity to explore before the snows set in.
In each new place we find ourselves, there is a sense of urgency to see as much of the area as possible, for we never know if or when we’ll be back that way again. It creates in us a habit of seeking out the best in each place, of seizing every opportunity. Every time we are surprised by the locals who hardly ever venture out, who’ve never even heard of places we’ve been in their own backyard. I hope that even when we settle down, this sense of urgency to explore will never wane.
In his work, Georgia based artist Benjamin Britton is “making paintings which foreground an experience of the senses, and where moments of adventure and wonder are privileged over other moments.” May they always be so.
Now that we are settled in for the next three months in Idaho Falls, we’ve been exploring the surrounding area every weekend. This part of Idaho is a close neighbor to Wyoming and Montana, Big Sky country. That hemmed in feeling that we’d been experiencing in the Bay Area seems like a far away memory when standing in the middle of a Yellowstone valley, with only the bison for company.
These paintings by Irish painter Tom Climent “reminds us of how our spatial ability becomes spatial knowledge as we navigate our world and with this knowledge we create a place for ourselves.” Most of us have it within our control to decide what our place in this world looks like. The places we occupy, whether permanently or just for a time, effect our psyche, offering chaos or peace.
Today may officially mark the last day of summer, but for weeks now, summer’s glow has been slowly fading. The hots days have grown weary and we’ve rejoiced in a new, cooler breeze. It is always an interesting time, this changing of seasons. But if you’re like me, you enjoy the shift. Each season brings its own joys, its own rewards and embracing them each for what they are helps to usher in the new.
The beginning of a new season offers the hope of a fresh canvas, a new start. I’ve been thinking very seriously along those lines where this little blog is concerned. This Fall will be a season of transitioning in many ways, including here on the blog. I’m excited to share with you a new vision! Some things will remain, while others will fade like the leaves. New seasons bring new opportunities and we must embrace the transition in order to reap the rewards. Stay tuned for details next week!
Images above are photographs by multi-disciplinary artist Sarah Illenberger. To see more of Sarah’s work, please visit her website.
For centuries, women have been defined as the “fairer”, even the “weaker” sex. Daintiness, extreme ideas of femininity were valued and celebrated. Yet it is in exactly what defines us as feminine in which our greatest strengths lie.
Praised for their curvaceous beauty, our bodies are capable of growing another human being, they expand and do miraculous things for the sake of giving another life. That same body nurtures, arms provide a loving embrace, feet stand for long hours at work, and at home. Sometimes, what makes us female becomes our enemy, as women who have suffered through breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer will tell you. Yet in that feminine weakness, is still found their greatest strength.
Paintings above by Los Angeles artist Courtney Murphy. To see more of the artist’s work, please visit her website.
In our discussions regarding our final landing spot, Mr. F and I have an ongoing dilemma. He is drawn to the drama of being surrounded by super high mountain peaks, while I feel most at home among the trees.
These paintings by Australian artist Shannon Smiley bring to mind the lushness of the forest canopies I am so drawn to.
In my new little studio ( I do mean little, it’s about 50 square feet ), I have a lovely view of treetops and rooftops in our neighborhood. The sunsets from the west facing windows are often spectacular and I would love to capture them from my roost, but there’s a bit of a problem. Screens. The window screens allow for leaving the windows open without risking bugs coming in, but they get in the way of clear vision.
The abstract paintings of California artist Chris Trueman with their undulating layers bring to mind the view through veiled cover.
As a Florida girl, the warnings in California to “never turn your back on the ocean” took some getting used to. But as I soon learned, Pacific waves are much more unpredictable than their Atlantic cousins. A rogue wave could sneak up on shore and sweep you out to sea when you least expect it.
And so it goes with most everything else. It is easy to get swept away– by emotion, by anger, by busyness. Sometimes being swept up is a good thing, what is better than being caught up in the arms of someone you love? Or loosening your grip in order to be more free?
These paintings by New York based artist Angelina Nasso reminded me of that feeling of being swept up, of loosing our grip on control, for better or worse.
The art world, like so many others, has its own language. It’s spoken by curators, gallerists, and art writers everywhere. As artist Raul Cordero puts it in describing his Transient Poetry series, it is “A language taught in art schools, heard at intellectual theoretical events or commercial art fairs; which many learn how to speak as a matter of survival..”
When we begin our journey as artists, all we want is to create, to express ourselves. We often simply pour out what is inside without a thought of how to explain it. Then we need to write an artist statement for a gallery, a grant proposal or website text and we find ourselves searching for a way to describe intellectually what is an emotional journey. Words often fail.
One Christmas, a long time ago when my oldest nieces were still little, I painted an old suitcase and filled it with old prom dresses and costume jewelry, creating for them a Dress-Up Box. Looking back, I wish I had thrown in a doctor’s coat, a stethoscope, an artist’s palette.. options to dress up in more than just pretty dresses. But we love to fantasize about who we could be, to dress ourselves up in costumes that, at least visually, transform us.
There is that old adage, “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have“. The costumes we put on have a way of sometimes transforming us from the outside in. We feel fancy when we put on a fancy dress, we feel powerful and in control in a suit. There have been a few stereotypical artist ensembles like the dark, all black, beret-wearing brooder and the wild hair, layered boho hippie look. But my wardrobe, like most artists, lies somewhere in between. I sometimes think if I could start over, if I could overhaul my wardrobe to perfectly reflect how I want to be seen as an artist, will I then feel like the real deal? But I know it won’t work. It is still a costume. I feel like the real deal when I pour out my heart on a canvas, no matter what the outfit.
Paintings featured are by Pennsylvania artist Adrienne Stein. To see more of Adrienne’s work, please visit her website.