Well, February is the month that I always question my sanity. About living out here on the edge of civilization, on this windy damn hill, in a drafty old farmhouse. The weather was just dreadful last week, for the most part. Windy, cold, spitting snow or ice balls or rain or something. Backstage in theater they make the sound of thunder with a piece of sheet metal snapped like one is dusting a rug. That’s what my roof sounds like in a 40 mph wind. It’s hard to sleep. And lack of sleep makes me nutty. Keep that in mind when you see the work coming out of the mental pipeline a few weeks from now!
Seasonally, February is the “dark before the dawn,” though. The thought of spring keeps me hanging on, and in summer I NEVER question why I live here. And actually, I’m pretty happy to be here in the winter, as long as the wind’s not blowing. And I’m not running out of firewood. And the car is not leaving me stranded on the highway. I’m not a fan of emoticons, but this is where the frowny-face goes.
On a more positive note, I took six finished landscape paintings down to Jean & TJ Tremmel’s WareHouse Gallery last week, I am appearing there as a “guest artist,” for an undetermined period of time. Rockbridge area residents, if you haven’t visited their gallery yet, you really should. They have constructed a really unique space on the first floor of their historic old warehouse building to show the work of the resident artists and potters and the occasional guest. You can find them at 302 McLaughlin St in Lexington (across from Rail’s End, right next to where they parked the train station when they moved it), or on Facebook as WareHouse Gallery Art Pottery, and they will have a website up and running soon. If you drop in, please tell them I sent you. Maybe TJ will be marginally less crabby next time I show up unannounced [just kidding TJ!!].
As I get started painting again, I’m thinking of the two types of paintings I’m making, and the different motivations I have for making paintings. The most simple motivation is just the sheer joy of smearing that greasy stuff around on a surface. (Must be something Freudian about that, arrested in the anal stage or something! Read more)
To gratify that urge, painting anything will do. And I might as well paint something that will earn me a little money to pay the electric bill. Plus, it’s good exercise. Last winter, I just made some landscape paintings, done from photos (mostly very bad photos taken by me, but occasionally very good ones taken by Glenn Rose) that were very good practice at seeing. I’d been making up landscapes to go around my broken-up goddesses, and actually having something to look at was quite an education. So I call them, “Exercise.”
For me, exercise doesn’t remain satisfying for very long. In the physical sense, I like to have real work to do (splitting wood, working in the garden, or at least going for a hike) when I exercise, I don’t like “gratuitous” exercise (like walking on a treadmill.) In making art I have a great urge to be didactic, or narrative, or to get right down to it, to vomit up the contents of my brain onto at canvas (or sometimes upon a piece of mud). So that kind of painting I’m assigning to the category “Exorcism.” It satisfies the need to expel the images that are haunting me. It doesn’t much cross my mind whether anyone else would want to look at it or not. Sorry! I’m not thinking about you! I’m thinking about me! It’s all about ME!
So this week I’m posting some pictures of something I’m working on in both categories, and from now on I’ll just label them “exercise” or “exorcise.” Salud! and stay warm!
Two summertime paintings. I’ve been thinking about them since last time it was warm. Was that about 10 years ago?? Examples of “gratuitous exercise.” Though they make me happy, thinking about warm weather. (Why does February seem like the longest month??)
This painting below isn’t finished! I’m just posting it to give you an example of an “exorcism” type painting.
I had a busy summer! I haven’t gotten into the studio since … I can’t even remember. Was it April? Whew! What exactly, you might ask, have I been doing with myself?? Well… I was trying to earn a living, fix my crummy old house, and play farmer at the same time. Biting off way more than I could chew. Also: I got something like walking pneumonia, my dear aunt and my mother-in-law both died, my father was in the hospital and then in the nursing home, I broke up with my man friend, and injured my knee pretty seriously. And the damn bathroom! It was the project from hell. It’s still not finished, but I decided to can it until spring, so I could go to the studio.
Jennifer Cox is an artist working in Rockbridge County, VA. She shows her work regionally, sometimes nationally, but not that often. She works in virtual isolation, so if you want to leave a comment, please do! Just try to be kind.