I've recently developed a slight obsession with balloons. Basic party balloons from the dollar store. Quite possibly because of the image from two posts ago with the arms wrapped around that big balloon-like thing. But also, maybe, because at our cramped corner dollar store the party section is right at the door, so all of a sudden balloons are literally on my radar.

(They've actually been on my radar intermittently for years, in experimental sculptural/installation work that I failed to document. At the time, I wasn't really taking it seriously because "I don't do sculpture." I've been kicking myself pretty hard for the past month or two. Lesson learned.)

They've become this vehicle for working through ideas, at least in my head, showing up in two recent proposals/applications. The idea is that I'll use them as still lifes to draw from directly, and also as photography subjects to build a collection of images to paint from. Sort of like taking the Of Flesh and Fruit project all the way to fruition in paintings. But I'm still figuring out how to work with them adeptly in real life.

Right now they're getting pinned to the wall of the studio in joyously cancerous little clusters. They make me think a little of Ross Bleckner's early stuff (who, by the way, has been letting Art Blog Art Bloguse his Manhattan studio space for gallery shows while he's at his studio out in the Hamptons or wherever).

I've been doing some basic skill-building type drawing, just getting used to working from life again instead of just out of my head or from a flat image. What's coming out isn't exactly prodigious, but at least I feel like I'm getting somewhere.

I feel like there's something right around the corner as far as the work is concerned. I feel like I'm on the verge of finding something really fruitful, this thing that maybe I've been looking for all along. And then I get swallowed up momentarily by this worry over whether what I'm doing is worth doing at all. And then I realize that maybe this feeling, this being on the verge and wondering if it's actually there, maybe that's what this whole thing is about. Maybe I just need to get used to that feeling, because it's certainly the most purposeful and excited I've felt in the studio in quite a while.

New work in progress: 'Curl'

For now I'm calling it "Curl." (Now that I'm taking progress shots of my paintings, I have to give them some sort of working title so I can make a folder... damn you technology.) Finished dimensions will be about 44"x36" I think.

I like the linear/gesture quality at this point. Not what I had originally envisioned, but now I don't really want to lose it... The constant battle between the image in my head and what comes out on the canvas. I wish I knew more what I was doing when it comes to the figure, on an anatomical/technical level. Should've paid more attention in figure drawing (or kept in practice after the class ended). I've been thinking I really need to start getting myself to the Hipbone every now and then.

In other news, I finally broke down and bought a roll of pre-primed canvas with my last Blick order. This is my first painting on it. No complaints so far, except that there's less procrastination I can get away with... Feels pretty heavy duty, so we'll see how it stretches when we get there.

Little synaptic sparks of memory

I've had quite a surge of inspiration/impetus to paint lately, but of course, the nature of such things is that they ebb and flow, wax and wane. And now it has waned a bit (in part because I have new painting ideas, but must gesso more muslin to get started... puts the brakes on a bit).

Tonight, to fill the void of inspiration, and the time between coats of gesso, I've gone back to working on the second Hemlock Semiconductor commissioned painting. I feel like it's going in a really nice direction, one that I didn't have much trouble picking back up on even though it's been a little bit since I've touched it. Plus, I have to say I welcome the technical challenge of this one in particular. The transparency, slight waxiness, and internal structure of the quartz still has me baffled -- I'm currently just glazing layers of semi-transparent color and hoping that something strikes me. And the polysilicon ingots, though much more of a predictable geometric and solid shape, still make me think hard due to their changing angles and the sheen of their surface. I've always had a hard time with surfaces and sheens in paintings; all of my textures come out the same. But I'll be very surprised if I haven't improved that particular skill by the time this one's finished.

Blocking in the silhouettes of the furthest-back ingots, I got a memory flash of Charles Demuth's "My Egypt," which I once wrote a paper on for Art History class. Something about the current flatness and linearity of the ingots, and their shape, similar to grain silos, and the general verticality, I suppose. Clearly not very similar paintings, but the connection made me smile.

Charles Demuth: "My Egypt," 1927, oil on composition board, 35 3/4 x 30 inches

Toward a new figuration, I suppose.

I may be working figuratively again. That is, if I wasn't already before...

I'm still not clear on the nomenclature regarding style in the art world. Does figurative mean that one's work necessarily involves the figure? (The human figure??) Is all other work dealing with things from reality simply representational? What about work dealing with things that don't necessarily exist in reality, but could? Is that surrealism, or is that an art-historical term reserved for Dali and crew? Perhaps it's a matter of capitalization, surrealism versus Surrealism.

Anyway, I may be painting figuratively works with people in them for the first time in quite a while. I've been having the urge to, but putting it off or denying it because "I don't paint figurative work." But I paint from my gut, so those urges are all I've got. If I can't listen to myself, that doesn't leave me with much.