Saturday, March 27, 2010

Deep Cuts

This is a card I made for my friend Amanda who just graduated from her massage program. She works really intuitively and I wanted to make something that conveyed warmth and healing, maybe also for the heart, our most important muscle. Top to bottom: front (cut paper windows, with a random orange splotch, which happened when my housemate asked me for census info while I was painting...); inside (acrylic); envelope (cut paper).

Listening to: Heartbeats (The Knife, Deep Cuts), Retrograde (Leo Kottke, One Guitar, No Vocals).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alice Neel: happy to look wrong

This is the painter Alice Neel (1900-1984). Doesn't she look sweet? Not what I was expecting from the artist of such intense, unflinching portraiture. I've never been particularly drawn to her work, but after reading more about her in Eleanor Munro's book, Originals, I've become very interested in her.

"I had what it takes to make a good artist: sensitivity and tremendous willpower. Hypersensitivity–because in order to be an artist you have to react intensely. And then you must have the will. What is it, really–character, belief? The power to stick with what you believe? I had a very strong, adamant self. That is proved by the art I produced. Now, I don't know how you arrive at that. But in my case I believe it came about because other people had such a strong effect on me. I was a hypersensitive child. If a fly lit on me, I'd have a convulsion. A real convulsion. There was a stuffed cat I live in terror of. For all I know, my human images originate in terror. It may be I need to exorcise something.

Other people loomed too large. Everybody could knock me off base, so that it was hard for me to be myself. I'd made such an effort to be what they wanted, a pretty little girl, that I wouldn't be myself at all.

I never knew what I wanted in the small things. My mother would say, 'Coffee or hot chocolate?' and I wouldn't know, but not only would I not know, I'd go into a fever of trying to decide. My whole life was a matter of never knowing what I wanted. Why? Because I didn't give a damn for any of it. But later on, on white canvas, I was free. It was my world. It was mine." -Alice Neel

Here's Alice Neel's only self-portrait, at age 80!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

broken heart.

the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
through dark and deeper dark
and not to turn.

-from "The Testing Tree"
by Stanley Kunitz

I was at May Day yesterday and I decided to do some drawing. I found this begonia so strange and beautiful; I didn't know they bloomed like that, all tall pink translucence. The leaves, too were amazing, thick blood red and delicately veined. They looked like organs, particularly like the heart, which is what I'm thinking of these days.

These two plants were weirdly entwined–I tried to move the begonia onto the table to see it better, but it was somehow entangled in the calla next to it. At first I thought it had actually rooted itself in the next pot, the way it was draped, but now I'm not sure. There was a dead calla lily tangled between them, which might have been holding them together. Too complicated to tell.