Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Interactive Studio Blog Project

Pam Farrell has an interesting project going on her blog. She gives a peek into artists' studios from all over the world, and it's fascinating to see the different and various creative work spaces. This week she featured my studio, and one of my paintings. My studio is very neat and organized; this is necessary since it's quite a small space. It occupies the largest bedroom in my house, but it has been feeling cramped lately. However, the light is superb and I live in a beautiful location surrounded by mountains and desert vistas. I have been considering renting a larger space in town, which would mean a commute of about half an hour every day into Santa Fe. But I think I need to stay put, not just because of the economy. I find some of my best creative ideas happen at dawn or in the evening just before going to bed. I would miss that very intimate connecting time with my work, when it seems all of Nature conspires to inspire me. I would also miss the presence of my animal companions, who bring a loving and innocent energy into my working space.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stones of the Sky

Center of the Stone, 2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches
© 2009 Diane McGregor

This is one of the paintings from the previous post that I've just finished. The three paintings that are shown in the studio shot below are inspired by Pablo Neruda's Stones of the Sky, a suite of 30 poems that are love songs to the earth. "Neruda observes eternal metamorphosis at work in stone," writes translator James Nolan. "The permanence of stone in the ragged Chilean landscape becomes the emblem of spiritual transformation contrasted with temporal humanity." I have wandered the Andes and the regions of Chile of which Neruda writes, and I have always had a profound connection to the spiritual nature of stones. I feel connected to them living here in the high mountain desert of Santa Fe.

Here is one of the poems from Stones of the Sky, number XIX , that inspired this painting:
Silence is intensified
into a stone:
broken circles are closed:
the trembling world,
wars, birds, houses,
cities, trains, woods,
the wave that repeats the sea's questions,
the unending passage of dawn,
all arrive at stone, sky nut:
a substantial witness.

The dusty stone on the road
knows Pedro, and his father before,
knows the water from which he was born:
it is the mute word of earth:
it says nothing because it's the heir
of the silence before, of the motionless ocean,
of the empty land.

The stone was there before the wind,
before the man, before the dawn:
it's first movement
was the first music of the river.

(Pablo Neruda, Stones of the Sky, translated by James Nolan, Copper Canyon Press)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Work in Progress

This is a view of the studio with new work in progress, in various stages of completion. I am learning patience. The layers of oil paint need time to dry so that I can build up texture and luminosity. I find I enjoy this part of the process, it forces me to take time to breathe, to watch and listen. It can be frustrating too, as I often really want to keep working on a painting. Sometimes I know exactly where it needs to go, but I know it needs it's own time to wait and germinate. Then the ideas and associations germinate as I wait and watch. Time is a seductive element in the work, as each brushstroke represents a moment in time, each layer a practice in patience.

The largest piece shown here, 36x36, is one which I started a few sessions ago. At this stage, I just need to get the paint on the canvas, I'm not so concerned with where the imagery is going. The other two small ones are much further along. I usually work on 4 or 5 paintings at a time, as I wait for the layers to dry.

Poetry is a tool I use to help guide my paintings. The poems are a deep and subtle influence on the imagery, color palette, and/or mood. I have selected Pablo Neruda's poetry to inspire these three paintings. I often take the poems with me when I walk in the desert and reflect on the work in progress. Everything goes into a painting: the sunrise, the moonlight, the mountains, the music I listen to, the poetry, the fragrance of the wind.