October 7, 2014

Breaking Patterns by Making Art

        This weekend was the opening of my art show, New Works Big and Small by Tracy Feldman.  I was there for my opening and also for Lancaster's Art Walk.  There were lots of people at the opening and OK traffic during the Art Walk event.  I sold some small pieces, and had a good time, and got a lot of positive feedback. The show stays up all month, but I didn't sell any of my big pieces over the weekend.

The Topology of History, 32.5 x  26", Oil on Canvas
by Tracy Feldman (& Myra Hichcock)
    In the past that typically has led to an emotional letdown that undercut my willingness to do any art for at least a month -- not a very good pattern for a working artist.  So, when a friend (Harriet) came to the show, and we talked about the Reclaimed Series,  I got an inspiration of a way to short circuit that pattern.

     My Reclaimed Series are abstracts that I make on top of earlier realistic works I know I'll never sell.  By using tape and paint, I both preserve part of the earlier work and create a new abstract at the same time.  I really like doing this, and I realized that by doing a painting like this for my friend, Harriet, I'd give myself the opportunity to solve two problems at once.  The two problems were getting me back into creating art more quickly after finishing a show and using a family painting Harriet had given me and asked me to paint over.

Harriet & Sister
   The original picture is shown to the right.  Harriet brought it to me when she and her husband were in the process of downsizing.  The picture is of Harriet and her sister, and was done by an aunt, Myra Hichcock, who was a painter.  The aunt never had completed the work, and so Harriet kept it in her attic instead of displaying it.  That was about 60 years ago.  Because she knew I was an artist, she brought and told me to paint over it: a better solution that throwing it out.   It was a neat solution for her, but for me it posed a dilemma.   Even though the painting had gotten dull and dirty while sitting in the attic, I loved it, so the thought of totally destroying it rankled.  So I thanked her and put it in my garage -- hoping that as I passed it each day on the way into our house,  an appropriate use would occur to me.   And, as I talked to Harriet Sunday, I realized that taking this piece and turning it into one of my reclaimed pieces would do just that.

   The piece above, The Topology of History, is the result.  Like with my other reclaimed pieces, I used tape to preserve some of the image.  However, there were two important differences in the way I handled this new work.  I didn't just want to use random tape patterns, so I went on line and looked up patterns made in point set topology -- Harriet's husband George's area of mathematical study -- so I figured the piece would appeal to both of them for different reasons.  The second difference between this and the earlier reclaimed pieces is that when I took off the tape, the faces and dresses of the girls stood out too much.  Thus, I glazed over all the previously taped areas with a golden ochre.  I like the result, and hope you do too because the ochre gives it a unity, but glazing it allows Harriet and her sister to be seen peeping out of the painting.

    There was a hiccup on the way to making the piece, however.  Last night, I realized I wanted to do the painting today, but I first needed to clean the piece so the tape and the paint would stick.  I didn't know how to do that, so I asked myself before I went to sleep what might work.  As often is the case, I had an ah-ha thought when I awoke this morning.  I had heard someone talk on a home improvement show about how shaving cream is a great, gentle way to clean things that are oily/greasy (as oil paintings are by nature).  So I got some of my husband's shaving cream and spread it all over the painting.  When I was done, the work looked wonderful, and I worried that Harriet might regret not saving the original, so I brought it to her and asked if she wanted to keep it. She confirmed that she still didn't want to retain it as it was.  So that is why I got the opportunity to make what I feel is a very interesting piece.  I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.

     Since I'm intending to give this  piece to Harriet, I won't be selling it unless she decides that she doesn't want it.  If it does become available for that reason, you will be able to that it is available on my website.

1 comment:

  1. I really love this one, Tracy. It's my favorite of your reclaimed series. The glazing and yellow ochre are special. I had to hunt to find some of the things, but once I did they were obvious. I really like how you brought in the other colors as well. Good tip on the shaving cream. And good that you have a picture of the original all cleaned up. It adds to the fun of the piece to be able to pop back and forth between the two. -Nancy


I look forward to your thoughts and comments.