Making Tea, Megan Berry, 2013, Oil on canvas
By far, painting has been my favorit class for Spring 2013. Which is funny because I hated it last semester, maybe it had something to do with choosing my own content. Making Tea is a first of a series that I worked on after Home. I was inspired by a Shins’ song, “Those to Come” particularly the line “Making tea in your underwear.”This painting went through many steps and processes I learned quite a few things about myself: I love to work with the figure and to work in a monochromatic palette I wrote an artist’s statement for Art Theory class that explains more in-depth.
Like many artists, I struggle with discussing about my own pieces. I think it is difficult because the ideas come from a deep place within us that is hard to access; for some it might even be completely inaccessible. Artists are motivated by things that are hard for us to describe. In an attempt to try and get myself to open up and talk about my work, I’ll talk about my process, form and content, and the ideal conditions I need in order to make my art.
For me as an artist, my ideal condition to be productive would be in a creative environment. Right now I work in a retail environment which seems to suck out my soul and leave me drained of any creativity. I think that is one reason that caused me to go back to school after a couple of years of retail. If I had my utmost ideal conditions to make art, it would be in a school atmosphere making art in a studio with my peers, with a side job of working at a small, local art gallery. I like working in a gallery with my peers because I get a sense of community and a place where I can bounce ideas off to people that know what I’m talking about. I feel that is hard to find outside of school. I would pick a small art gallery to work at because it would be a great place to see the art that I am passionate about. It would have to be a gallery with a high turnover rate of artwork though, because I feel like I would get bored and disinterested in the pieces if I saw the same work too much. I feel that these ideas are part of the reason of why I want to go into education. I want to share the experience I have here at school with others to get them interested in art, too.
I feel like I would work best in a classroom setting, because it is hard to make time at home to make art. In relationship with how Bell Hooks discusses the problems of making time, I feel like there is never enough time in the day to do everything. I get too distracted at home with trivial things such as retail work, house work, family, friends and my own procrastination. I really have to push myself to work at home. If I’m in a classroom, it forces me to work, which I like.
My process to make art changes from time to time depending on what I’m working on. Currently, I’ve been working on a set of paintings dealing with the figure. Initially I was inspired by a song lyric, but I ended up liking the content so much that I kept going with it afterwards. I start off with an idea of where I want to place the figure and set up the camera on a tripod to present the composition I want. At first, I used myself as the model in the photograph because there was no one else around, but now I do it because I like using myself as the model. I can’t picture someone else standing in for me. I set the camera on a ten second timer and pose myself in the photograph in many ways until I get the composition I want. I found that I have to personally take the photo; when I had someone else taking it, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. After I have the composition I want, I then edit it in Photoshop. I change the photo to grayscale, crop and make it high contrast with an overexposed look to the point that it has a photocopied look. Then I transfer that image on my canvas using an acetate and projector. When I start painting, I start with a wash of turpentine and one color, which becomes the under-painting. Once that I has dried, I’ll go over it in another color, keeping a monochromatic look with the richness of the color underneath.
Content and form are a little bit harder to talk about because I am still trying to figure that aspect of art out. In my paintings I work with the figure, but in neither a non-realistic nor abstract way. I keep the contours of the figure, but it is overexposed to the point that the figure’s skin is completely white, which bleeds into the background. Even though the figure may be fading into the back, the viewer is able to see the subtleties in the paint to tell that there is a figure there. As far as content, when I’m working on a piece, I have the idea of keeping the form minimal with very little features. I want the viewer to figure out what I am showing them. I like the idea of there being both a presence and absence of someone being there at the same time. The duality intrigues me and draws me to continue painting the same subject.