Sunday, August 15, 2010

Artist Under the Influence

I used to wonder what I was going to paint next, but I’ve learned to relax and ideas just come.  It often seems rather magical to me the way they arise, but I’ve learned that other interests often serve as an engine.

I am working on a new series on Radom, the town my grandfather came from.  I’ve begun two so far so I believe that meets the definition of a series.  I plan to do many more.  I’ve written about the 1937 film of the Jewish community of Radom that I received from a fellow researcher.  It captures a happy time and a cross-section of the Jewish community just five years before the Holocaust destroyed it.I’ve pulled many stills from it for the Shtetlink site that I created.  In doing so I found some images that really spoke to me.  When I put the page out on the Shtetlink I had three columns of images and I liked the juxtaposition of disparate images.  That was my impetus to create a series of small images that worked as a whole.

My second influence… I went to an open studio last week and stopped in a studio where the artist was painting on wood. Now I often paint on masonite, but she was using wood panels and I really liked her work and particularly the surface.  I liked the ability to use the grain or sand it so decided to try it as a material.  Unlike masonite the panels have sides so don’t need to be framed.  For someone who likes instant gratification, being able to hang a work immediately has a lot of appeal.

My third influence…My next decision was what size to paint.  As I wanted to create a larger image out of many smaller images I opted for 12” x 12”.  Earlier this year I had done several paintings in that size for the Foot in the Door Show that the Minneapolis Institute of Arts does every ten years.  They only accept paintings of those dimensions.  Normally I don’t work that small, but I found that I really liked the work that I did for that show so decided to explore those dimensions further.

And my final influence…Last weekend I went on a long bike trip with my husband and between pedaling managed to make use of the camera that I bought for our Eastern Europe trip.  I discovered quite by accident, as I tend not to read manuals, that it had a pinhole camera setting.  Now this worked beautifully for landscape shots.  Colors are slightly muted and a grayish edge surrounds the
center image. I soon was wondering if I could get that effect in my painting series.  My working title is A Point in Time and a pinhole image seemed to fit well within that.

So four influences drove my topic, material, size and style. Amazing where a camera on the wrong setting can lead.  This is how art happens.

If you're interested in the camera with the pinhole setting here's the link.  It also has a 12X zoom in a very compact camera, a high quality Leica lens and the wonderful additional feature of GPS.  It picks up where you are and links it to the picture.

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