No Going Back Now...

Blown Away oil, graphite on linen 60 x 48 inches         

Recently, I didn’t feel like painting one day, so I did a couple of little drawings instead. I had never really done drawings in the busy abstract painting studio space at the Art Students League before. Anyway, I kind of got it in my mind that I am going to start at the beginning - my beginning - to try to paint more of my story.  I did a little sketch of what I think of as one of my earliest experiences that I called, “when I was a baby.” It is hard to describe in words how powerful the experience behind that drawing was to me. Without being overly melodramatic, it was a defining moment of who I am.

The next day when I went in, I got out a canvas that I have been working on where the consensus seems to be that it is not finished (Moose Bay), and I tried to get a feel for going further with it. That wasn’t working. It seems finished to me, no matter what other well meaning people think. So, I put that canvas up in the rack and pulled out a large (60”x48”) blank canvas.

(*Note (11/18/2013): Moose Bay I left alone and it is now hanging at A.T. Kearney’s head office in Time Square!)

Okay, I thought, I’m going to translate the experience from my little pencil sketch (8”x5”) to the big canvas, hoping to capture the power, the in-your-face impact? I worked so aggressively on the canvas than when I finished, it seemed a bit loose on the stretcher, stretched from the impact of my strokes. When I finished I felt such relief. I knew that no matter what anyone said, it is one of my most personally meaningful paintings.

A young painter who paints near me told me she thinks my painting is “really bitchin!” Hahaha!! I love that.

Anyway, when the person who fills in for our advisor Larry Poons came in, I wasn’t going to show her because she seems to have an aversion to anything remotely representational. But I did. Sure enough, she zeroed in on one little section and made some comment about that little area. But with this kind of painting, is almost a happening – I can’t go back and change some small bit afterwards – even if I wanted to. It’s so strange. I guess she just didn’t get it. It doesn’t matter if someone doesn't like it, or thinks some little area is mushy; it needs to be the way it is because it expresses - when I was a baby. 

When I Was a Baby Sketch 2012  graphite on paper 8 x 5 inches 

The painting works horizontally too.  But it’s interesting, to me it has to go the other way because this way it expresses something different.  It is still expresses experiencing in your face violence, but somehow to me the age doesn’t seem as young.

I painted it vertically and was trying to express the overpoweringly suffocating weight and force of the violence and how we somehow find a way to survive.  The figure somehow finds a little path upward to the space above even if only in their mind.

Blown Away oil, graphite on canvas 60 x 48 inches

I do like the way it works both ways though.  I see that the painting works this way, but then I call it Blown Away!

I really like painting with black and white and in between.  Drawing also seems to come naturally to me and I love combining the two. No holes barred, abstract painting but somehow incorporating drawing as well.

The painting I did before the above has two names.  If viewed on the horizontal, I call it, Keep On Trucking.  Vertically, I call it, Softball.  I really like how there is a different vibe depending on how it is viewed.

Keep on Trucking 2012  oil, graphite on canvas 48 x 60 inches 

Softball 2012  oil, graphite on canvas 60 x 48 inches

Another painting I did recently with a similar theme but without any hint of a figure  is called, Love Me Tender. I wish I had a better photo that would show the softness and subtlety and not just the boldness.

Love Me Tender 2012 oil, graphite on canvas 48 x 48 inches

originally published: October 23, 2012

© Trixie Pitts 2009