Saturday, September 18, 2010

Remember to Buy Teabags

Twyla Tharp has some great things to say about memory (the Creative Habit, chapter 4). In the headlong never-stop culture of New York City, memory is something we forget all the time. I mean, we aren't looking back. People, events, movements, art forms, jobs are a rushing river carrying us along.

Cup of the day #35
Ice Coffee Cup by Gwyneth Leech, 2010
Colored ink, Black Sharpie and Whiteout pen
on clear plastic cup.

Getting back to my studio after a summer hiatus I am initially adrift. Where the heck was I? The paintings are there on the wall, but somehow seem finished to me. I did a painting workshop at School of Visual Arts a few years ago. The teacher (whose name I forget) recommended that at the end of each painting session we write on a post-it what we intended to do next and stick it right on the painting. It is actually very useful as a kick start next time you come in. Of course, I don't remember to do it.

Today, other habits save the day. Art and Fear  by David Bayles and Ted Orland is another book that is right on about habit and memory. I do some things automatically without having to think about them. When I arrive I sit down at the table by the window, and pull out a fresh loose sheet of cream colored laid paper from a box. I pick up a Faber Castelli brush pen and I start to write scraps and lists of ideas in a large loopy handwriting, rather like drawing. A few sides of paper, my memory is jogged and I am on to cup drawings. This is an Artist's Way kind of approach - writing a few uncensored pages, every day. It works for me. And my sheets of paper and cup drawings contain the genesis of whole painting series and large scale projects.

From drawing to painting is one more difficult step. To get there I have an awful thing left to do - put on my painting clothes. This can be the hardest part of my entire day. With overwhelming languor, and much sighing I accomplish it - and then, excited I reach for the oil paints. The painting day is underway. As Twyla says, eventually you just have to stamp your feet and start.

Hours later, I remember that this is a still not a usual school week and I get to Grace's school just in time to meet her new 2nd grade teachers. Back home, I congratulate myself on a great start in the studio. Only thing is, I forgot to buy the teabags, again.

In the Studio, about to draw
September 210

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