Complete.

Feelings of sadness and disappointment come up as I look back on the end of this project. Partly because my schedule got out of control and so there was less time to spend on my last batch of pieces. The end of this project happened suddenly and I don’t feel like I was able to enjoy it. In fact, I’ve been hurrying to catch up on painting, photography, and this blog. But most of all, I am sad because this project is over; I really loved the process.

This process was a wonderful space to experiment and get messy. The structure I set up for this project helped me delve back into developing deeper pieces through considering style and technique elements, as well as translating daily experiences.

I continue to fight the urge to fix up some of these pieces, but an artist who has done this project previously, encouraged me to do what I can on a piece in one day and then let it be. In all honesty, some aspects of these pieces make me cringe and also fill me with affection for their weird attempt at something. This project was for me, first and foremost, a way to experiment with my painting process. I feel very vulnerable showing these because they’re new, different, and not all that wonderful, and because they represent 50 days of my life and all of the love, anger, optimism, and confusion that occurred within them. Maybe that’s why I feel affection for them even when they ended up odd because they’re a part of me and spark memories of those days and emotions.

During this project, I feel like I came to understand and own more of what my art was about. Let me preface by saying: I don’t think I ever told anyone what my art was about in college. I guess I was still figuring it out and didn’t want to admit where it came from and couldn’t find the words. My blog “Behind the Painting” series and these posts have managed to touch upon some of the ideas. I dislike telling people because it makes me uncomfortable and sounds corny as all get out, but here goes. I view my paintings as sympathetic; I process emotion and experiences in my paintings in hopes someone who needs it will relate and know they are not alone. I am not a people person, so it’s my attempt to connect with and insert compassion into the world because I struggle doing it directly. I want to end this blog series on this note because this process and days have taught me: My paintings are enough. I am enough. You are enough.

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Above: All 50 paintings complete
Below: Paintings from July 16 to July 25

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each day.

Twelve white 6 by 6 inch squares hang on the wall below 40 bright squares of assorted colors and patterns.  Ten more panels will be painted during my 50|50 project. (If you’re counting closely, you know I am a few days behind, but a blog post seemed important.)

First off, I can’t believe how fast this has gone by and, yet, how far away last month seems. There is something about having each piece reflect my day that makes small aspects seem larger: little fractions of my day have been memorialized. My chair series, and others, do capture fleeting moments and interactions. There’s something about the series in this project that feels different, stronger? It is more cohesive in terms of theme. Perhaps it is how they are displayed. They definitely have different textures. These paintings feel so powerful because this project somehow allowed me to open up even further about the stories behind these pieces. These all hold a place in my heart. They document a wide range of emotions and tiny little daily things that I do. I documented all of the anger I had last Friday (see the last painting below), a dance performance that made me cry (the tight-knit circle of chairs that’s purple and green) and a few days of turmoil processing world events.

My chair paintings are based on my personal experience and also observations in public. I describe these paintings in more universal terms. I know the people in this series and, when I talk about the pieces, I own the emotions and experiences portrayed.

I tried two or three new techniques this past “week”, including make a lino-cut stamp and adding texture to the panel. My goal for the last ten days is to give each piece focus to make it what it needs to be. I hope to try out more techniques and styles. Living life and going out has really helped these paintings blossom. Plus just the idea that I am supposed to just do the painting in one day and be done is different. I usually re-work paintings until I’m satisfied. So there are a few days that make me cringe. Overall, I love this project. I love the process of building blocks into a towering painting that encapsulates the overall mood of my day. I am sad to see this project end. I am relieved to have a little less pressure to turn out a painting about EACH DAY OF MY LIFE.  I am excited to see all the many paintings hanging together next month.

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Above: 40 paintings of 50 complete
Below: Paintings from July 1 to July 15

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Halfway there.

As I photographed my paintings yesterday in preparation of this blog post, I realized there were exactly 25 done. That means I am halfway! When I step back, I have a hard time believing it because the time has just flown by! Aside from a few days where inspiration didn’t strike instantly, I am LOVING this project.

My painting process is fairly quick, so once I have the inspiration, I just get a piece done. In fact, this daily aspect has allowed me to embrace what comes from the process: whether it be a more loose painting style or weird, desperate cut-out shapes.

Since last week’s update, I haven’t really discovered any new techniques. I have instead played with how I am painting and experimenting some more with the techniques previously used. One day, I painted a meeting I attended just to see if I could fit 7 chairs onto the 6 by 6 inch panel (spoiler: I did! And it’s pink and green!) The feedback is that they are more colorful than my other chair paintings. My friend and I discussed whether this was true or their proximity just made it seem that way. I think both are true, they are bolder and brighter and the proximity highlights this.

I think I’ve mentioned a billion times that my pieces are journalistic, based on an experience, emotion, or event that occurs each day during this process. This theme has been very fruitful. It’s frustrating sometimes to come up with a fresh or clear instance from a day, when I have a routine and similar things tend to happen. But I piece parts of the day and sometimes my life as a whole to represent a feeling or experience. The structure and immediacy of this project allows me to create more context, content, and depth. These paintings have been more personal and specific. I keep track of the stories and foundation of the backgrounds for each and tell some of the stories on Instagram/Facebook. It is yet unclear how this journalistic aspect will be handled further. Do I make a book? Do I post the stories here on my blog? Is putting some on social media enough? Do I have a sentence title for each piece? How specific do I get?

Embracing the vulnerability of sharing parts of my story, I also want to keep some mystery. When I share my story, I try to tell it in a somewhat unspecific way. For example, I shared some insight behind my 25th painting on Instagram:

@luciapickles: “The things we tell ourselves to get through the day.” I repeat this line when feelings of failure hit me as they did today (day 25 of 50!) because it turns my mind towards positive thinking, plus it’s cheesy, which reminds me to smile.

I don’t mention why or what made me feel like a failure, nor does it really matter. The words in quotes are what I am considering as a title for this piece, because of its more vague, universally applicable meaning. The mantra/line of text I repeat is in the last painting in this blog post.

The goal for the second half is to continue to embrace new techniques, styles, methods and madness and figure out how to embrace the journalistic aspects!

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Above: 25 paintings of 50 complete!
Below: Paintings from June 21 to June 30

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Second week perspective.

After the first week of paintings, I noticed I was falling into a rhythm of adding shapes and patterns to the background. Building some confidence with a new process felt great. I grabbed onto the great feeling of the patterns’ success and ignored trying things because they didn’t always turn out as beautifully perfect as I wanted. It was scary! When checking in with myself, I decided to redirect my focus to trying new techniques this past week.

Trying different techniques turned out quite well. These seven paintings include many more processes. The green and blue painting with 5 chairs from June 14 started on paper with ink. Then I added paint and cut out most of the bottom and glued it onto the panel. Then I painted the floor. The layer of paper adds depth and a slightly different texture.

On the high from this success, in subsequent paintings I added text, different paper elements, moved the pattern to the floor, and also used the panel itself as a palette. I keep reminding myself that these panels are for experimenting and trying out ideas on.

All the excitement about doing something different has made sharing the stories behind these paintings much easier for me. Posting the stories behind pieces on Instagram has been really enjoyable. One of my weaknesses is talking about my work. Basing these pieces on part of my own day coupled with more consideration of the added context gave me further content to document. The chair series is based on me wanting to empathize with people. I transform personal experience and observation into unspecific chairs instead of all the characters in my life, so a stranger could identify how they feel and know someone else felt that way too. In this process of really focusing on documenting an aspect in my day has given me a chance to explore moments and aspects of my life.

Today on Instagram, I shared the second to last painting in this blog post: a lone chair with some odd shapes floating around a yellow background. The Instagram caption reads: “On Sunday (day 14 of 50), I visited my grandma. Here Cal colors surround her timid body in the random, vast floating wonder of her disease. Before painting this, I cried for the first time about her situation and felt thankful she remains sweet and pleasant.” If I wasn’t doing this project, I don’t know if I would have processed the sadness of seeing my grandma so depleted from Alzheimer’s this past weekend as quickly. There may not be anyone reading this or actually looking at my Instagram and that’s okay, but I send them out now in case they help someone get through their day and feel heard and understood.

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Above: All 15 paintings so far, plus one panel with my first random underpainting layer.
Below: Paintings from June 14 to June 20

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From the first week.

This first week update of my 50 paintings in 50 days is a few days behind; I am currently on day 11 of 50, but this post refers to day 1 to 8. On the eighth day, I took photos of the finished paintings and reflected on the process. From this first week it is clear that I have taken a liking, no, a loving, to adding shapes in the background to make my own version of patterns. Enjoying this process made me realize I love filling in shapes with paint and that my painting process can be simplified to: I create my own coloring books with chairs and fill them in with the background colors. Adding further shapes in the background creates another layer of coloring book style painting in which I lay down shapes and then paint the area around them. I was also surprised at how much shape and pattern inspiration came to me. Patterns will continue to appear in this project and in future paintings, but after this first week, my goal is to experiment further with process.

The first day’s painting included a collage experiment with a Harry Potter book page, since the words fit the adventure my partner and I went on and we also read Harry Potter that day. It was the perfect solution to my day’s events, but I’m not sure how I feel about the result. In days following this week, I did another collage painting that you will get to see in a few days (or see it now on my Instagram: @luciapickles)

Each painting is based on an emotion, event or moment during the day. The biggest issue in this process is that I wish I had planned to paint something from the previous day instead of the current day, so I could look at the day as a whole instead of working from the first half of the day. I did grant myself permission in this awkward dance to record events, patterns, notes, and inspirations from the day in my sketchbook and do the painting the next day (especially if I couldn’t make it to the studio!) Next time, I would do things that happen on the previous day so I don’t feel quite as pressured, continuing that I haven’t even had the full day it is based upon.

The pieces aren’t titled yet. The gallery allows pre-sales, so if you are very interested in a piece at any point in the process, please contact me at luciadillart@gmail.com
Each piece is $120 (which is half the price of my usual 6 inch pieces!)

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The first 8 paintings above and below in chronological order (June 6 to June 13)

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Introducing one a day.

I was selected to participate in the Sanchez Art Center‘s 50|50 Show. This annual exhibition is made up of a number of artists who turn a 6 by 6 inch panel into a piece of art each day from June 6 to July 25.

My fifty pieces will be journalistic in approach. Each day, I will express a part of my day using folding chairs to represent people. These paintings will incorporate pattern, collage, and other techniques to indicate specifics of the event or emotion. For me, this opportunity allows me to explore new techniques and methods with a familiar motif. My goals are to explore adding further background and context and discover new ways to express meaning by producing a large quantity of work. I am not expecting all my pieces to all be gorgeous because this project provides a space for experimentation, which often fails.

My plan is to update this blog weekly about the process. Follow me on Instagram for further updates and images along the way! I am currently on day 2 of 50 and will post my first images of paintings here next week. I am very excited about this project; It’ll be good for me like those vitamins! (And I can’t wait to see all of the artists’ hard work at the show!)

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The panels hanging on my studio wall! (they give us 52 in case we mess up!)

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Priming my first set of panels during Open Studios.

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Smiling amid the process of priming with the panels on my studio wall in the background.

In where I work.

As I sit down to write about my studio space now, thoughts of old work spaces pop up. When I was a kid, my parents made me a desk on two roll around cart with like 6 drawers each. These drawers were filled with paper and crayons and stamps and markers and all sorts of implements of creation. Years later, at pre-college at Oregon State University, I had my own tiny art studio space for a few weeks with a desk, an easel and a chair. Fast forward a few years to senior year of college, and I got my own space again where I had a table, a cabinet, and a stool (and access to LOTS of folding chairs.) Now, I rent 150 square feet of studio space in Berkeley.

In this studio space, I create art and run my business. It is for all intents and purposes, an “office.” I chose to not have it in my home so that I would have a boundary between my personal life and my work life. (That became even more important when my boyfriend, another artist, moved in with me!) This separate location gives me a place to go to during “business hours.” As I had recently graduated from college when on the studio hunt a year and a half ago, I also wanted to find a community to belong to. I am a HUGE introvert and it seemed important to not become isolated immediately after a huge life change. At Makers WorkSpace, I am one among 43 individual spaces. My peers here are of all ages and interests and pepper my day with greetings and conversation.

As an organizer, I give lots of thought to having purpose and flow in my space. Note: I am still messy and have a fair amount of stuff, but everything has a home (mostly!) This current unit has a designated office area (a table and bench) by the door and a studio space (a standing work table and 3 storage units of creative supplies) take up the back half. Three of my walls are dedicated to housing my art and one has a bulletin board, some friends’ art and my business permits. This newer, larger unit I moved into in January is still in the process of feeling organized and “lucy”, but I love my space and am really excited to open it up during open studios in less than two weeks. It is so fun to have others in my space checking out what I do. The conversation and feedback during that time is really important to me because I spend a lot of time and effort doing experiments with paint, thread, paper, wood, fabric, and more there.

Some photos of my organizational “areas” and the studio to prime your expectations.

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Peek through the door into the mess!

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The wall by my designated “office” area. Thistle photograph by Laura Johnston and sunflower by Julianne Nash. Pencil drawing from high school by yours truly.

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The inspiration and notes bulletin board in front of my desk.

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The works in progress wall area in my studio. Currently working on embroidery and collage.

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Another thought process wall with my stupplies below it. Plus my felt banner made by Feed the Fish Co.

Artist book: On the line

Despite plans to share a post about my most recent books, this post is about my favorite of my artist books. This book is an accordion folded series of prints of a lithograph I made in a printmaking class. Imprinted via letterpress on the sturdy, yet soft paper is a short story I wrote.

This book, titled “On The Line” was made in 2012. When I began trying to include my book arts in my artist statement recently, this book led me to discover the similarities between my books and my paintings. Just as I document body language and relationships through chairs, this book outlines a relationship through in a brief moment of time, specifically a phone conversation. This book, like my series of chair paintings, also uses a repetitive visual motif: the utility pole. Two images alternate on the page pairs: one of a series of utility poles in a line and one of a lone telephone pole. I made these from one lithograph containing two rectangular drawings stacked on each other. I created this print with the intention of turning it into book pages. The lines stringing from pole to pole line up so the book is one long string, both in the imagery and in the form of the extendable accordion. On the backside of the pages, utility pole shaped pieces of paper hold the separate pages together at the folds of the accordion. A friend recently mentioned that someone told her that no matter what you create, it will be in your style. This book reminds me that that is so true. I wonder sometimes why I try to merge my painting and my bookmaking because maybe they’re already connected?

Below is the text of the short story. (And yes, this call is using a landline! I did use those! I miss them! It’s stressful to be on call at all times!)

“You answer the phone, voice full of question, “Hello?”

I’m unsure of what response to offer, there are so many things I have to say. The tangled phone cord twists to my feet—a manifestation of my unease.

Suddenly the power goes out; my throat catches as I try to speak. “Hello?” You seek to fill the void, but not with me, while I memorized your number.

Just as familiar with the beeps as I dial as the red marks left by the waistband squeezing your flesh. Such imposed beauty, the smooth interrupted, like utility poles cutting through a soft landscape, structure contrasting the curves.

“Hello?” I put the phone back in its cradle; there’s nothing I can say to change your mind.

Powerless, I embrace the safety of the dark, stumbling forward until my eyes adjust.”

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On The Line

Front cover viewpoint

2012

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On The Line

Inside viewpoint

2012

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On The Line

Backside of pages

2012