Process: First Works

In trying to find a language for my process, I have taken to calling the (mostly) abstract paintings I put down as the basis of my most recent mylar collages, first works. These paintings are meditations more so than anything else. I don't necessarily go into them with an outcome in mind, but I do think about colors and shapes and lines. In pushing the paints and inks around on the mylar surface I'm searching for accidents of form — the shape of a leg, an arm, a breast, a vaguely familiar flower or leaf. I try not to actively make these shapes; their beauty is in the spontaneousness of them appearing unbidden with a drop of water there or the swiping away of a line there. When actually making the collages, these "accidents" can sometimes get lost, however, to a newly seen form, to a new idea, to a demand for something different in the collage. 

An artist friend of mine came to my tiny studio last year and was horrified to see that I actually cut up these first works; so much so she purchased one to save it from my X-acto knife. "These stand as pieces on their own," she said. I can appreciate what she sees in them, but their value for me lies in them being part of a larger piece, puzzle, collage. The thrill is in re-seeing them outside of their initial context, butting up against another extracted shape both inside and outside of harmony. Isn't that one of the motivations of collage, re-see the familiar and the ordinary? To recontextualize what we thought we have seen or know?

The first works can seemingly lack a common thread, too. And, of that I am pleased. What to make of a hypnotic candy-stripe swirl in gouache only to turn to a roughly done acrylic ink homage to an imaginary still life? The incoherence is part of the process too: what can I do that is unlike the last thing? Where can I go next? Not claiming the "painter" label frees me of style, though there is an emerging vocabulary of semi-circles, drips, and swipes that carry over into the final work. 


First works were the first step in creating "My Girls", "Cameos" and even this play with abstraction on abstraction. They are impermanent, never to be what they were after that first photograph to remind me of what they initially were.