Getting Through Working Through

 I like to think that paintings don't have to be done when you think they're done (and certainly not when you want them to be done). This painting started last summer and I thought that it ended last summer but when I took it out recently, I knew it needed more.

...Going back to last summer, I started painting this at home and gave the underpainting some bright yellows and lots of graphite drawing. It went along with me to a 3-day art show with my friends where we were all working on pieces in progress throughout the long weekend.

At the point above, I felt like it was done. But it was nagging at me that it really wasn't finished. My friends kept telling me it was done, STOP. But I wasn't sure. I decided that I should let it dry and then decide, took it home and, a few days later, thought. Yep, that's good enough. Damn it, I should never think good enough is good enough. But it kept getting nice reactions from people, especially other artists, and I thought it might be ok. But when I took it out again to prep for the "Working Through" exhibit, I just couldn't leave it. I finally saw what I wanted to do to it and that was to simplify the colors and layer the drawing more.

"Getting Through", Oil and Graphite on board, 18" x 18"
So I took some more paint and some more scraping and graphite to it and I'm happy I did. The new tones of blue, the less black area, and a different use of the yellow. The yellow is still there and, even though it's just peeking through, I think it has more impact in its subtlety.

And who knows-- maybe if it sticks around I'll paint it again. Only time will tell!

Come see my first solo exhibit Working Through at Monkitree, 263 Water St, Gardiner, Maine
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014  5:30-9pm
Exhibit runs April 4 - June 7, 2014
Facebook Event page here

Working Through -Artist Statement

Working Through  |  Jamie Ribisi-Braley
Solo Exhibit
Monkitree | April 4 - June 7, 2014

In my studio there are always at least two paintings going at the same time as well as some small oil sketches on paper or tiny canvases. I’ve never really liked to sketch- preferring, instead, to let the immediacy and searching show in the final painting. But I’m finding that these small pieces are helping me to work out the color schemes, composition, and movement while remaining finished pieces in their own right. At times, these sketches are actually made after I’ve already finished the larger painting - in a way it’s still working through the process.

And that is really the theme of this body of work: Working through it. Not giving up. Most artists can attest to the nagging feeling of giving it all up. Of feeling beat. Wanting to pack up the brushes. But this goes a bit further. As I’m working through the process, I’m also working through chronic pain that makes it difficult to be in the studio as much as I need to be. Namely, migraines dampen my studio practice and interfere with life in general. Working on these abstract pieces, full of turmoil and quick paced lines of repetitive mark making, is a way for me to work around the pain and let it all hang out.

The painting process is almost wishful thinking of how I want my health to be- having the authority to take something I don’t like and just paint over it. Whether it’s from layer to layer, reinventing the color and composition, or taking a previously finished painting and completely painting over it. Start fresh, take control, and have more energy. Searching for the point when it all feels better.

Come see my first solo exhibit Working Through at Monkitree, 263 Water St, Gardiner, Maine
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014  5:30-9pm
Exhibit runs April 4 - June 7, 2014
Facebook Event page here

A Study in Green

Spoiler alert
I'm going to go a little out of order here because I have a lot to say and a lot that I'm working on. So I'm just going to post about each thing as it pops into my mind. That's just how I roll right now.

For my solo exhibit, Working Through at Monkitree, I've been making new paintings and also reinventing some old paintings by completely painting over them. It's quite liberating and I highly recommend it! It all ties in with my artist statement and I'll get to that in the next post.

I dug through my cabinets of old paintings (yes, cabinets) and found four that I just wasn't feeling the love for anymore. Here they are in all of their non-glory:

Now, let's focus on the one on the bottom left. That was called "Green Apples" and I painted it a few years ago for a group show at Monkitree. It seemed fitting to start with that one since I feel I owe it to the gallery to make a nice painting out of that one.

Green Crapples-- I mean, Apples
At the time I painted it, I sort of liked it and thought it might grow on me. It didn't.

The original painting was casein & wax pastels on paper mounted on board. So I immediately thought of using some cadmium green sketching oil paint and my oil sticks on top of it. The color choice was a reminder to me of what was underneath. Moving forward is important but remembering how you got there is key.

first new layer
After covering it completely, I started drawing into it with my oil bars.

starting some marks
Then I kept drawing and painting, drawing and painting, and I guess I got caught up in the moment (that is the best part, isn't it?) because I didn't take any more photos of the steps in between. Well, like I said, how you get there is key...but enjoying the ride is the goal.

When I look at this I think about piles. Piles of crap: worry, exhaustion, feeling like a pile. In thinking of a new title, one that is nicer than Piles of Crap (but that would be fun, too) and references the old title, I think I'm settling on Compost Pile. It's gritty enough. It's also about how you can take a pile of crap and turn it into something useful.

Come see my first solo exhibit Working Through at Monkitree, 263 Water St, Gardiner, Maine
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014  5:30-9pm
Exhibit runs April 4 - June 7, 2014
Facebook Event page here

On the studio wall

The growing wall in my studio of small oil painting on paper and canvas. Sort of sketches for larger pieces, mostly color and composition studies.

Lightning Stage

Stage 6: Lightning Phase
Really liking the lines in the previous stage, I decided to focus on that section. Boy, was that torturous. I didn't have the right motivation to even be in the studio and my head just wasn't working but I kept painting and rubbed the oil sticks all over that damn canvas.

After much frustration, I'm okay with where it's going, just not totally where it's at.

I do love the colors in the top left section and hope to bring some more of that to the upper portion as well as more contrast and drawing. It's not anywhere near what I was thinking it would be but I have to remember to stop thinking and just work.


Moving right along

4th studio session of new painting
Sometimes it's hard to get into the studio. I don't mean like "I have too much to do" or "There's no inspiration" or "There's a truck in the way and it's on fire." But there are often other obstacles that I am not in control of.

If I have too much to do, I make time. It's important to let yourself have the time to do what you love, even if it's just a few minutes.

If there's no inspiration, that's the perfect time to paint! Your most creative moments may come out of working through it and not being tied to an idea-- YOU'RE FREE!! ENJOY IT! See what happens!

If there's a truck on fire, well, get an extinguisher and call the fire department. I mean, yeah, that's going to put a damper in the day but hopefully the fumes won't be too bad.  Ok, this one will sting a little but you'll bounce back.

5th studio session of new painting
where I really attacked it
The thing that's always getting in the way for me is my health. I'm often dizzy, have a migraine, in pain somewhere in my body. Most of my days I just work through it, set a goal of keeping up appearances, and relish the moment I get to sit on the couch with my pup and a warm blanket. But I've got to get in the studio-- again, it's making time to do what I love. And the frustration/anxiety/pain/bliss-getting-through-it is what feeds those pieces. This week, I've dealt with power outages that made the studio way too cold to work in and dizziness/migraines/sciatica that just seemed like that truck on fire, barricading me from the studio.  But I still got in there. It did take some time. It took energy to push myself to do something I did not feel like doing. But I kept thinking of that moment when it gets better. When the pile transforms from something I don't like and want to end, to something I'm happy living with. Then there's the painting. ;)

See how it goes...

New painting in progress-- I thought I'd photograph it at the end of each session because I'm always fascinated with the layers and evolution of a painting. This is an oil on linen and is 50x60" which is a very large piece for me. In the beginning of a painting, I usually have no idea where it's going; no plans, nothing. I just get out the paint and see what happens. When I talk to people about a finished piece I usually tell a story of all the phases it's gone through..."You should have seen the painting underneath this one-- it was so frustrating and I couldn't figure out where to go next so I just covered it with a new painting!"

Well, I'll try to document all phases of this one. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I can already see myself painting over this.

Current phase after the 3rd sitting:

Etsy refash

Updating my Etsy shop to include some re-photographed older items. Featuring some collections of Polaroid 669 peel apart photographs. As I went through my flat file I was amazed at how much work I had, both photographs and life drawings. Time to clean house-- visit my shop and see what you can dig up!

New Oil Paintings

Departure, Oil and Graphite on panel, 18" x 18", July 2013

Don't Make Me Repeat Myself, Oil on cradled panel, 20" x 20", April 2013

Sometimes, All That is Left is the Anvil, Oil on cradled panel, 20" x 20", June 2013

Transpose, Oil on canvas, 20" x 20", June 2013

Tons of tiny fun!

Sketches 1 and 2, oil on Arches paper, approx 9" x 6" paper size
While I'm painting larger pieces in the studio, I like to work out my ideas on a smaller scale to sort through my palette, composition, and drawing. This time, I took some Arches watercolor paper, taped it up, and gessoed the painting areas. Here's the first little batch!

Sketch 3, oil on Arches paper, approx 9" x 6" paper size


Sketch 4, oil on Arches paper, approx 9" x 6" paper size


Sketch 5, oil on Arches paper, approx 9" x 6" paper size


Sketch 6, oil on Arches paper, approx 3.5" x 3" image size

Sketch 7, oil on Arches paper, approx 3" x 3" image size

Sketch 8, oil and graphite on Arches paper, approx 11.5" x 5" image size

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