Friday, June 09, 2006

exploring symbolism

forest painting

as usual port2port inspires me to take an idea that i have been churning over in my head to the blog...

i'm trying to wrap my brain around symbolism and how i use it to build a fluent painting. how symbols represent my language and i feel i can still only ask: where is bathroom? and, please croissant want.

my friend debbie (pictured in the previous post) shared her notes from reading the theorist susan langer. she writes of symbolism & meaning as it relates to art and how we intuitively use symbols to reflect our world that is meaningful to us. therefore our symbols equal our art vocabulary and we need to invent adequate symbolism to be able to say all that we want to say! my goal is to be fluent in painting. taking it a step further what do our personal inventive symbols say in a wider cultural context?

an inventory of symbols i currently use:
ice cream carts

(all the same shape)

funny russian hats

awkward poses
warped perspective
flattening of space

what do these express for me? the ice cream carts are complicated. i was telling my bff bekah that they seem to represent poignant sadness to me because i am projecting my own sadness of how it would be as an often older immigrant who maybe had another more esteemed life in mexico and now is selling googly eyed ice cream (just one perspective i realize, maybe the ice cream cart guy is having the time of his life being outside all day eating ice cream). another is birds which are "so trendy", but they are also a mainstay in our lives, especially if you are urban and they are the only animals you might see.

above is a painting taken from little bits of my inspiration wire. some more directly than others. i see a camilla influence in it, the clouds are directly borrowed from a wood print, also represented and translated for me is a photo of my dad who died when i was a baby, building our driftwood home in the forest of nova scotia. i think here the painting is about how i put my personal meaning mixed with formal beauty of color and shape. i think my strongest, most fluent, paintings are when i connect my heart, head and hand.

the one to the left is my alter-ego uncle floyd's, which i had to discontinue in the blog life because i felt guilty about tricking his audience. i do like the idea of taking on a different persona and seeing what kind of art you create. how does it liberate you? in my case i drew from the angle of a cranky old bird watcher who hated graffitti (my opposite), but still i am the filter, so my drawings/symbols still have me as the anchor. my friend christina took on a persona of this woman martina who was a crazy british inventor and made art from that perspective! who would you be?

the next painting is just started and some of the influences lay in the books below of folk art, tim biskup and jim houser. i learned from my inspirational teacher jason jagel that it's important to allow yourself to copy your influences repeatedly until you find where they end and you begin and what is the common language that you are trying to speak. this clearly does not mean plagarizing, but it means become a kid again and copy that drawing of minnie mouse and blow it up big, real small, or take her ears and make it something else. it's how we learn and our common language.


wendy said...

I love this, seeing how your work, or rather what is behind your work!! all so very amazing.

Julie said...

Loved this post - very interesting and getting me thinking too!

lisa said...

like like like all three pieces very much. jim houser is my hero.

Jessica said...

I have to tell you I love this post, it definitely expresses some ideas that have been lurking in my head and puts them into concrete thoughts.

I feel like sometimes you get so enclosed and shut down from everything else. You get too wrapped up in your own life to see anything else around you, taking on someones' perspective is the perfect way to get out of that.

Art should never become stagnant and it is refreshing to hear you say that you wish to keep going with your ideas until you find out where they end up. Tettering on the edge of control and chaos can produce some very beautiful things.

it seems like you definitely have some great things moving. Sometimes I can see myself as a thief/street kid and others times a couture designer...but in the end they all make up me, which is amazing.

risa said...

i just read somewhere about how it used to be such an awful thing to admit you've been influenced by other artists, expecially if this influence was clearly visible in your work. how silly! out andout copying someone if obviously not a good thing, but how can we not be influenced by those who came before us and those currently surrounding us?

Angelique said...

Interesting juxtaposition of symbols. I'm glad you wrote a brief narrative about what they mean to you, so we getting an idea of where you were going with these. Great, unusual color combinations. Nice works, Mati.

jessica said...

one thing that an art teacher told me about influences... when you feel like you're stuck repeating the work of an artist you love, try looking at that artist's influences...

Listoria said...

wow! how often do artists really stop and think about what it is that fuels their work, what is recurring - where does that element figure in their everyday life for it to emerge in their art? this is something for deep contemplation! thank you for sharing this.


oh, love the idea of the alterego - mine has always been listoria, goddess of lists and queen of