Saturday, November 13, 2010

Figuring It Out

While She Sleeps (work in progress)
tempera, acrylic, ink, charcoal, and pastel on Stonehenge, 48" x 50"






Another large multifigured piece started in my Sunday afternoon life drawing session at MECA. For a long time I have wanted to do this sort of thing - many figures sharing a space, forming a narrative. I tried this in my Altared Self piece, but it became so laden, so crowded, so encrusted, with imagery. That's OK, it is was it is. But so often I've felt that I must put it ALL in one piece. As if I'll never have the space and time, or the materials and the chance to tell another story. I must spill it all NOW. And I bombard the viewer in the process! I think this stems in part from growing up in a very large family, and not getting enough one on one attention, and then in having a large family at a young age, and constantly catering to others. I've been in a hurry to blurt it out when I can, and have been apt to go into a now or never, times running out mode of survival. This feeling also stems from thinking that I might not have the right to take up too much time and space with my creative pursuits - resources being scarce (emotional and physical). So this Sunday drawing session is just what the doctor ordered. I'm giving myself the time and the space. The past two sessions I've bought a great big sheet of paper to work on, and I have the figure to work from for three hours. I can then take this piece back to the studio and continue developing the narrative, adding a bit more imagery, and hopefully, not overdoing it. And I know that next Sunday, I can start another.

I've always loved the work of Kitaj, and have been looking at his work again. I am also inspired by the work of a fellow MECA alum and classmate, Ahmed Alsoudani, who visited Portland last week. Ahmed also works in mixed media - charcoal and acrylic like I've been doing, but on canvas. I want to try this next - work on unstretched primed canvas, so I can tack it right to the wall. I think that I would enjoy the texture of the canvas. Could it be that I am moving into the realm of painting??

So much of art making is about confidence, don't you think? I struggle with this all the time. I don't want to lay blame, yet it's important to look back sometimes and see where old patterns originate. I have always had excess energy and have always talked alot. I'm sure that in my big family of origin, this was annoying. I was nicknamed Moutha for a while, and I laughed along with the joke, ha ha, but deep down it hurt. I needed, and continue to need, a large vehicle for my copious imagination and creative energies. I'm learning to trust that I have something important to say with my art (beyond my people pleasing portraits!!) and that my voice matters.

Either you're stopped by what hampers you, or you're not. ~ Kiki Smith

10 comments:

Lauren Simone said...

i really enjoy this!

Susan Beauchemin said...

I'm reminded of Lisbeth in your multiple figure drawing--the large portrait in the foreground looks a little like her with all those figures as her thoughts.

martha miller said...

thankyou, lauren!

martha miller said...

hi sue - funny, i was thinking of lisbeth as i worked on this...

Rob S. said...

I'm happy to have the privilege to watch these come together! And I'm happy that you're getting so much out of Open Studio :)

martha miller said...

Thanks for making Open Studio happen, Rob! I hope that you will do this again next semester, even with your crazy full schedule!

Brad Gailey said...

I love this work you are doing with figures, both the 'Mything Persons' portraits and this multiple figure composition. They seem to me to be part and parcel of the same thinking process, the same exploration of people and their relationships. I certainly understand your wanting to broaden your explorations, and to produce work with a greater depth of content. Stay true to what you do. Sometimes, it's difficult to reign in my desire to ramble off on a tangent, and when it becomes irresistible, I try to remember to bring back what I learn to my current work.

You do a wonderful job of inhabiting the space with multiple figures and I can see why this is attractive for you. I also feel that your mark making, your color palette, and textures, etc. tell a great deal of what you are wanting to say. Your's seems to be an exploration that feeds from your soul. You should use these concerns you have to make the work more personal. I think I've posted in my blog how I think our darknesses define us more than anything else and that to be the most of who we are and to be our strongest we need to embrace these darknesses instead of rejecting them, in other words, understand our weaknesses and make them work for us. Easier said than done.

Brad

Brad Gailey said...

Oh, I meant to add, 'keep up the good work!'

Brad

martha miller said...

Brad, thankyou so much for your thoughtful response! I do agree that we need to embrace our darkness. Thanks especially for the support to make the work more personal. I often think what I do is too personal and therefore off putting for the viewer and hard to relate to! What have you been up to these days? I appreciate you dropping in!!

Best!

Brad Gailey said...

I posted a piece I just finished today. Check it out. I always value your comments.

Brad