Enjoyment, the Unexpected, and Abstraction

I started painting again this week, after a busy month in June which didn’t allow for much time with my work.  It was a struggle to start, but it seems to have taken.  I’m enjoying playing with these new colors and have been approaching the canvas with a mantra of enjoyment – that I should enjoy making the marks I make, or have fun making the paintings.  This months residents at the Vermont Studio Center have a very lively and positive attitude, they seem like a good bunch, perhaps that contributes to my making.

I saw Josh Ritter for the first time in Burlington two days ago, he put on a really great performance.  It was amazing to see someone radiate such a passion and enjoyment for the thing they do.  It felt like he couldn’t strap on his guitar fast enough when he got on stage, he was so happy to be up there performing for us.  Watching him reminded me of the importance of pursuing the things which I am passionate about.  I came out of the concert feeling very refreshed, or renewed.  On my drive home I felt excited to go paint again, and was happily driving a long with Josh Ritter songs in my head, but there was one point where I had to hit the breaks cause I saw something in the road.  A mother fox had recently been killed by a car and a baby fox was frantically running around the mother’s carcass in a panic.  I automatically went from this state of happiness to a state of sadness, feeling for the young fox.  I felt this instinct to somehow take the baby fox home, but there was not much I could really do.

I used to think events like this had some kind of significance or meaning, but more and more I feel like it’s completely random.  I don’t know what to take from an experience like that- two different experiences collide and have a strong effect on your emotional state; it effects you but has no fair explanation.  This doesn’t have much to do with my painting, I just can’t make much sense of it.  I guess I can’t make too much sense of anything, or understand why I choose to do what I do, and we all have to deal with the unexpected.  A large part of the struggle in my process is not knowing what to expect, or not knowing what to base a decision on, as I rarely reference physical objects in my work. I’m still thinking about how I refer to the work as “abstract figurative” and am wondering if it should only be referred to as “abstract”.  It’s abstraction in a physical sense- the figure, or the form of the figure is not actually there but the person, or the individual is. It’s a little odd because the forms I’m making exist in some kind of three dimensional space, the abstraction is not flat, it’s sculptural, but exists on the flat plane of the canvas. It feels like an idea lodged in the brain. Like something imagined, that isn’t tangible in the physical world, but vaguely explainable. I don’t entirely understand that thought, but it seems interesting to me.

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One Response to Enjoyment, the Unexpected, and Abstraction

  1. paintlater says:

    Love the new works Austin-everything that happens comes thru your paintings. They are very sculptural. I used to travel on a road of an evening and regularly hit foxes (not purposefully!) my paintings were red and dark. But like all good artists-wondered if those fox tails would make good brushes-it all comes back to painting. Cheers Sue

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