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