I've been having a hard time painting this last winter, since Baba Yaga ate my time (cannibal witch!). After some struggle, I've decided to start back to oil painting slowly. No pressure for profundity. Just painting a picture. I photographed this at night with artificial light and it did not enjoy that. If you want to see its true colors, it's up on the wall at Pablito's in Friday Harbor, still quite wet.
Portrait of a Crab
While I was working on Baba Yaga's suitcase, a white-haired neighbor came to the door cradling a box. When she came in, a rich, putrid smell hit from the box me like a blow. We went up to the balcony and she gently extracted an enormous dead crab. It could have been a king crab? I took many pictures, and then she left with her precious cargo.
I am so glad I am the go-to person for when my neighbors find corpses.
Baba Yaga's Moths
I trimmed and glued the feed-sack forest painting into the lid of Baba Yaga's suitcase. What to do for the box itself? I thought of forest debris, but the Grandmother carries that with her as a matter of course and does not need to deliberately glue it into her luggage. I rummaged around amongst the canvases that I don't think will sell, and found this nude, of a mother and dancer. I don't remember why I painted moths on her but seeing them now, it became clear that Baba Yaga, with her skulls and iron teeth and now the wool robe I knit her would obviously have moths. Obviously.
Yesterday I poked around online looking for origami moths to fold. I ended up with a design by Michael Fosse, and kept folding and folding all evening. The paper was from a rather distasteful book that I got from the free shelf at the Post Office. It will do better remade into moths than read.
This morning I used Damar varnish, which is a tree-based resin that yellows with age, to metamorphose the moths into a more permanent part of Baba Yaga's entourage. After painting the wings I sprinkled fish-scale pigment onto them. I am not sure what the next step is, but I do know that I have to keep moving the moths as they dry so they don't stick to the paper underneath.
Taxes loom. My friend and accountant Jill visited in the middle of this and I persuaded her to model Baba Yaga's robe.
In the next few weeks before the show, I think I need to stop having new ideas about this project and simply consolidate and polish what exists.
If I happen to have an idea from now on it, it will have to go into one of the other moldy rescue suitcases. Mother Holle, the German weather witch, might get her own luggage, or Daskiya, the Northwest Indian basket ogre.
I talked with Mark of Bakery San Juan about hanging some pictures in his storefront. They have to be substantially different from the ones hanging at Pablito's, I think, and that's a great opportunity.
Because I have Asperger's, I struggle with the human face. I can't recognize people very well, which is a disgrace for an artist! So that's what I'm going to geek out on. What, exactly, do people look like? Oh, I know what the proportions are supposed to be like. I know what a skull looks like. And I know how to draw what I see. But what makes a person look like themselves? And how do you paint their relationship to the world they live in, the heart connection to the universe?
People are not islands unto themselves. Writers have known that since forever, but psychologists are just beginning to figure that out. Geneticists, too. The idea that the expression of your genes could be influenced by how you grow up and your life choices, well, that's newly expressed in the world of science as epigenetics.
How to express that in painting?
I'm messing with lost edges, with color, with what the eyes do, with levels of detail, with setting. It's jolly fun.
I had a slinky black dress and rhinestones. That made all the difference. And made a sale!!! It was one of the little expressionistic pieces that I made in the last month (the first one below).
I've been working on putting more detail into my paintings.
Mom always admired the Chinese and Japanese masters, who could, with a single stroke of the brush, express so much.
My grandfather loved masculine blocks of color, sometimes heavily outlined in black.
It's time, though, to listen to my own voice, which gives value to each little bit of detail. I love pennies and twigs and thread, wrens and sand and beads.
Summertime, and the Living's Crazy
Summer has been oodling with houseguests. The kind of contemplative silence needed for prolific painting has been missing but I've managed to stuff a few into the cracks between making miso soup, visiting the bookstore in Friday Harbor, and discussing the differences between Japan, Norway, and the States.
Driftwood paintings are fun because the shapes have been softened and sculpted. Live wood is more angular and more, well, alive.