Friday, February 16, 2018

Art and fear this week

I wrote last year about making collages on wood painting panels, or perhaps they would be better described as assemblage because I added a lot of found objects to make them 3-D.  Check them out, with lots of photos, here and here.

For the last couple of weeks I have been working on a new batch, and I took them to my critique group a few days ago.  As I pulled them out of my bag and started to pass them around, I said "Clearly this one isn't finished yet...."  And somebody said "Why do you say 'clearly?' I think it's finished right now."

I was taken aback by the question and stammered around for a bit, trying to figure out why I had said that.  The answer took more soul-searching than I'm usually asked to provide; I'm usually pretty articulate about what I'm doing with my art.

What I came up with was that I am still struggling with the whole concept of making art on a painter's surface, because I feel very insecure about doing anything resembling painting.  And so I have probably been adding the 3-D elements as a protective barrier between me and anything painting-like.

My friends all agreed that two of the pieces were finished.  A couple more coats of matte medium to seal everything and give it a uniform surface, and they can go on the wall.

I'm still not sure I have internalized what they told me and I agreed with.  I do love minimalism, so the blank spaces don't scare me.  I guess it's the two-dimensionality that does.

You will note that I still can't bring myself to call them "paintings."  Having wrestled for a long time with calling myself an artist, and my work art, I guess this is my next wrestling match.  I'll let you know who wins.


  1. I feel like this issue of labels is never ending, and something I think about on a recurring basis. What's very interesting to me about what you've said here, and what I feel like might be worth further thought on my part, is that our own struggles or tendencies or thinking about labels may very well be influencing our art and how we think about it. I've always told myself, I'm just going to make the work I want to make, but now I wonder whether that's colored by the labels I'm comfortable giving myself (I'm a quilter or I'm a fiber artist). Could I be doing things more in line with my creative desires if I could let go of the fiber artist label? I don't know!! Thanks so much for such a thoughtful take.

  2. could it be that "painting" means one thing in particular for you?

    I have trouble calling myself an artist even though others introduce me as an a quilt artist. I have always considered myself a crafter, because I'm not prolific, I'm not consistent, I'm not trained and I did not receive a university degree for anything, let alone art.

    Hang hang ups

  3. In the 1960s, Pietro Manzioni packaged his own feces in tin and sold it at the going rate of gold as a criticism of the commercialization of art. It was labeled “merd d’artiste”....
    Ps (arte povera)

  4. We are our own worst critics. We have to create. Some of us feel insecure when we do something different. Can't imagine that you would question anything that you do. Just proves you're human. Your work is spectacular, but I guess that's not an "art critique." I kind of think of you as "anything that Kathy touches turns to art." Keep touching, and put a price tag on it. I have a friend that says, "It's not done until it is over done." I kind of like the minimalist approach myself.

  5. When I took a class in acrylics, there came a point when the instructor told me that I needed to do a section over again, and to just paint over it. I sputtered a bit and tried to explain that I couldn't just paint on top because the troublesome area was behind another area --as would be the case in fibre applique. She just gave me a weird look and walked away. It took me about 10 minutes to deal with what was to me, very much of a paradigm shift. Later I was able to explain my problem to her and we had a good laugh.

  6. These are beautiful. anything ever finished?