2019 was a pretty rough year for me personally and I have to admit that I’m glad that it is over. I’ve had to fight to maintain my studio harder than ever after losing my teaching gig at a local college and had to rely on my retail jobs and meager art sales for income. Despite that, I managed to create a boatload of work and probably produced more this year with less money then I did in previous years when I was more comfortable financially. I take this as a testament to how crisis often makes one work harder in life.
This year was supposed to mark my return to abstract work after a 2018 devoted exclusively to painting landscapes, but I ended up making it more of a blended year. I did manage to produce three abstract drawing series, Puppet Pal Friends Be Dues Paying Dudes, Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming, and 100 Bitter Lemons as well as a small abstract painting series I called Baby Love. Here are examples of each series.
Puppet Pal Friend Be Dues Paying Dudes No. 3
Maelstrom Leviathan Abyssal Charming No. 5
100 Bitter Lemons, Charles
Baby Love, No. 3
The majority of the paintings I completed this year, however, were either of planets, landscapes or flowers. This was mostly due to a big show I had at the Bethlehem House Gallery that opened in the fall and required me to spend much of the spring and summer to prep for. During that time I finished three short series. At Tom and Mikes Wedding, Onset Boxes, and Maris Hospitality. I also began my planet series Friends Are My Solar System, and my series Timmy’s Porch Petunias, which I finished just recently. Here are a couple pieces I especially liked from a few of these series.
Michelle Smiles Brighter Than The Sun
At Tom and Mikes Wedding No. 1
Onset Boxes No. 3
There were some stand-alone pieces that I completed as well this year, which was different for me since I usually think in terms of groups. I painted “Big Bouquet”, which I’m proud to say the Petrucci Collection acquired, “Rose Garden Bloom”, and “Old Allentown Petunias”. Here’s Big Bouquet.
As I look forward to 2020 I’m somewhat relieved of some financial pressures thanks to some timely art sales but many of my fiscal anxieties are still present. Fortunately, the art has stayed a consistent and stabilizing force for me. I go into my space after days at work and feel a sense of freedom and joy I get just about nowhere else in the world.
This year has taught me one immutable fact which is how much more focus my art career requires then what I am currently putting into it. Fortunately, in the late spring of 2020, I will be returning to the Vermont Studio Center for a month. While there I hope to address another fear that I have been having. That fear is why I’ve been so slow in pursuing the three of four solid abstract painting projects I’ve developed or thought about for more than a year. I’ve sold more representational work this year so returning to my typical abstract genre feels indulgent even though it’s where my creative heart really lies.
This year has felt like a race to build up enough work to pay off debt to give me room and space to circle back to abstraction. On that note, one project I’ve recently felt new compulsion to start is my series “The 12 Gnostic Confessions of St Bartholomew the Lame”. I envision this series being a slightly autobiographical journey through the lessons learned over the last few years so it feels right to start the new year with it. St Bartholomew is most often depicted as flayed and or decapitated in art for his martyrdom, I’ve taken some inspiration from his faith and hope to meet the challenges that face me in the future as resolutely as he was reputed to have.
I began 2019 listening to Billy Paul’s “Me and Ms Jones”, so I thought I’d close out the year with it as well along with a little more of Mac Demarco from his sophomore record “Another One” and the track “A Heart Like Hers ”
When next I write I hope to be well into my new Venus painting, well on my way to building my pieces for the 12 Confessions series and to have finally finished the Higg(ins) Bosons pieces. Until then Happy New Year and do be well!