“Out on the highway the last faint water colors of the sun were gone beyond the hills and whatever they were chasing was so far ahead as to be only a swift fleck now shown in lamplight now set free, running into the dark.” -Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes
There are so many phrases and words that beg to be illustrated in Ray Bradbury’s books. He writes in pictures. This quote struck me as I was reading Something Wicked. It’s just the way he captures the past turning into the present when he describes the sunlight and the dark.
I did not portray the exact moment in the Bradbury’s writing but it inspired different pictures having to do with boys running outside and the setting sun. I may return to the book to find some other scenes to paint.
Two or three years ago I went to Santa Fe with a friend who is a dancer. We went to the Currents New Media Festival which is about new technology in art. Interestingly there was a person exhibiting whose work had nothing to do with new technology. They wore a jump suit covered in silver glitter and had a mirror strapped to their face. The exhibitor interacted with passers by through movement. He did this while staying on a small platform. My friend walked to the glitter man and they started to move together, taking turns leaning on each other and making different shapes and poses. This was my introduction to contact improv.
Strangely enough, I haven’t really thought about that moment until recently. I drew some pictures of couples together and it reminded my of my friend’s dancing. I started watching a lot of modern dance online and looking at pictures of it. The poses are so strong and the dancers are so impressive.
I miss hugging my friends and being close to them. So to watch people dancing has been very uplifting. And I have thought about different ways of people being together. Sometimes people who are touching can be miles apart. And sometimes people together can make such beautiful forms and show a deep amount of care towards one another. Dance reminds me of this. It’s a testament to the power of physical connection.
I have done some paintings of contact improv. Some poses were borrowed from photos online and some are made up from my head. I don’t know if I’m going to do a longer series with them. It may be that what I have done is like a short story that I will elaborate on in the future.
I stopped by Strathmore to see what art show they had up a few weeks ago. Interestingly the exhibit was about home, which I have been thinking a lot about. There were so many artists represented and they all had different interpretations of the theme. There were all sorts of different art media and techniques: sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, abstract, representational, conceptual. It just showed how different everyone’s experience of home is.
Some topics involved with home were immigration, natural disaster, the suburbs, family, and familiar things like coffee. It was clear that there was a divide between artists. Some seemed more anxious about home while others gave the impression of it being a happy place. I think the idea of home can be complicated. There are so many things that happen when you’re growing up both inside and outside your control. I was happy to see such a diverse representation of the subject.
One of the great things about where I’m living is how close it is to DC and DC’s museums. I’ve been making a habit of visiting the National Gallery and the Smithsonian. Additionally I’ve been doing some reading on art history. Mostly, about the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
The National Gallery had exhibits on photography and on pastel drawing. The photos displayed were a little later then the daguerrotype, discovered in 1939. They were on paper, instead of silver plates. It’s still fun to see all those people in bowler hats and the landscapes that photographers were drawn to. Also interesting to note that several photographers in the show were painters.
The pastels displayed from the end of the 19th century (and a few from the 20th century) and some of the paintings from the museums permanent collection were fun to look at too. And Degas and Manet create such engaging subjects. I’m assuming they used photography. And of course it was fun to see the museum’s permanent collection as well.
I’m not sure how all of this is influencing my art except to say I feel less guilty about using so many photos. I think I will be sticking with portraiture for awhile.