We Are One

November 11, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Unity by Joan Desmond 2016

©2016, Joan Desmond, Unity.

I used the color purple symbolically here to represent unity, enlightenment, wisdom, and spirituality.

Insert Catchy Title Here

December 27, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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for this post about a body of work. An unfinished body of work it is. Yet, today I’m having trouble seeing the beginning, and the parts that came after. All because I couldn’t remember when, when, when, I painted this acrylic.

Day/Night by Joan Desmond, acrylic on canvas 24" x 30".

©Joan Desmond, Day/Night. Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 30″.

I recall the name Day/Night. It’s about opposites in many ways. The visual thinking I see and recall easily. It was a time of exploring tensions between geometric and organic, of the vertical and horizontal, color polarities, all that stuff. When was that?  For me, painting is usually a process that morphes into something else with a little of the old, and a bit of a new direction.  There are breakthrough works, exploring works and new direction works, it’s always ongoing when the immersion is there. But the dates don’t stick.

You’d think I’d have records. Surely I have records somewhere. It wasn’t the only undated, unrecorded, un-moored painting I found while looking around. This would not be an issue if one documents things. So that’s the catchy title angle. Document, date, ’cause you forget. You forget so much. The sanity you save may be your own.

Where Have All The Songs Gone?

March 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Into The Wind by Joan Desmond, 30" x 24" acrylic on canvas

©Joan Desmond, Into The Wind. Acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 24″.

March pushes brazenly into the canyon. Wildflowers splash with vivid abandon on the hills this year, and the customary wind cuts deep, frantically knocking winter’s junk from pine trees. Accompanying such visual and physical, seasonal flurry, is an atypical silence on the trail. The usually rich warble, chirp, and cheep of the feathered ones have almost disappeared. It’s nesting time.

Gone are the pompous displays of song and plumage from February when the dating game was in full swing. Now, birds are paired up, busy, and strangely quiet. The male raven rarely takes his seat on the telephone pole. Nor is he at the window asking for peanuts. He waddles up the driveway noiselessly, one of his feathers amiss. I like to imagine him tired from feeding his incubating mate. A single blue jay comes foraging, rather than six or ten. No juncos, mourning dove, quail, sparrow or finch forage under bushes. No owls hoot in the dark. Occasionally, a colorful, unidentified stray flies by looking lost.

Soon this interlude will spin into April with new bird, sky antics. We’ll watch lumbering young raven take-offs, and near aerial collisions as parents caw directions; shrill alarmist blue jays in training are sure to chant endlessly, unable to distinguish a ground stick from a snake; and the sweet, versatile trill of the mockingbirds will charm again from tree and shrub. The rhythm sustained.

The landscape calls to me

January 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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This I Sing For The Setting Sun, by Joan Desmond, 36" x 48", acrylic on canvas

©Joan Desmond, This I Sing For The Setting Sun. Acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 48″.

Recently I was reminded of a Miles Davis quote. “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” It pretty much sums up how I’ve learned to approach landscape painting (and drumming). To paint what’s not there opens up vast potential in the imagination and on the canvas.

My relationship to my outdoor environment, my landscape, is ongoing, direct. Early, most mornings, be-robed, I find myself outside, with fingers curled around a hot cup of something as Blinky Cat and I peruse the house perimeter. First, with groggy, slitted eyes, I scan across creek and up mountain for predator movement: coyote, bobcat, or a peaceful deer. Blinky immediately sniffs out some night intruder on plant and house corners. Next, there’s a horizon check. Do clouds over the northern mountains herald strong afternoon wind? At this hour pine needles soft shuffle in a light breeze. We saunter on. Green wildflower sprouts are evident, although the cheek-felt January chill keeps most scents locked in the soil. I notice how angled light sweeps over rock face, tree bark, and pine branch. Each becomes important for a second, divulging new information, something not considered before, a color revealed, perhaps, or softness, sharpness, a rhythm. These images shift with the rapidly rising sun. Finally, considering it all, and with a deep inhale of the day to come, we return to the house, curiosity sated.

Similarly, I may step outside in the early evening, again with the intent of appreciating the scene. Often I’ll bring my 22” frame drum, and close my day by singing into it, sending the resonance into the sky, the wind, and the colors.

Solidarity

January 8, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Solidarity by Joan Desmond 1/8/2015

©2015, Joan Desmond, Solidarity.

January 11, 2015

“Solidarity” is my direct response to the shootings in Paris on January 7th at Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper. It was deeply disturbing to hear that journalists were executed for their written words and cartoonists for art they made. On January 8th I thought to have my image stand-alone and not write anything to go with it; the words wouldn’t come that day. Since then I’ve read many accounts, editorials, and opinions about the shootings and the newspaper itself, they run the gamut from supportive to highly critical. Granted, Charlie Hebdo published extremely controversial articles, cartoons and jokes. The tone overall is left-wing, antireligious, non-conformist…in a word incendiary. So what?

This was an act of terrorism. One more act of terrorism in an ever-growing global number. Another violent lashing out meant to eliminate, intimidate, censor, enacted by killers who are indoctrinated in a totalitarian ideology. And they want the rest of the world to believe it also, to conform to it, at any cost.

“Solidarity” is about those thoughtfully unified against terrorists. It represents the numerous worldwide voices responding to those who are violently intolerant, to those who would eliminate free thought and speech, and creative expression.

The Collage Process Explained

October 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mail Art | Leave a comment
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  1. First there’s a rough idea for paper collage design, or two or three ideas.
  2. Scanning your immaculately organized studio, you consider the backing/support. Heavy watercolor paper, Bristol board, museum board? Rummaging through a drawer, a file, a cart, you pull considerations out onto the desk.
  3. You bring out the stored decorative and handmade-papers. Seeing the colorful bags sorted by type and size, you feel so TOGETHER.
  4. You plug in a Mozart tape.collage-table
  5. Tear. Cut. Snip. Hey! Let’s make four different collages at once, or more!
  6. At the counter, arrange, and rearrange the paper shapes on the backings. You vaguely notice that there’s an equal amount of bits and pieces on the floor.
  7. They need something else, pop the lid off that other bin of collected oddments!
  8. By now, every studio drawer should be hanging precariously open.
  9. You didn’t notice that the music ended long ago.
  10. For the fifth time you’ve misplaced the small and large scissors, and can’t find the Xacto-knife.
  11. You bring out more scissors. Plus you consider a yellow silk ribbon; 5 inches of orange cotton cord; 1960’s stickers of a chicken, a t.v., a hula girl, and a rubber duckie; a vintage matchbox; a soap wrapper from India with elephants; and textured metal buttons. None of which you’ll use.
  12. Right about here, every surface in the studio should be covered with collage materials. The purple papers are in the orange bag, and the tans have disappeared. You feel, MMM…words fail.file-drawers-top
  13. It’s time to glue: with paste or acrylic medium depending on the paper’s weight.
  14. You glue  in layers, covering each in pieces of plastic drop cloth, so they won’t stick to the big art history text you weight them down with to dry. There’s likely a place left on the floor to put them.pastes
  15. Another layer, more stuff.
  16. If you did it right so far, the palette knife for the paste is glued to a CD cover; the acrylic medium brush is best friends with a paper towel; one shoe is stuck to the floor, and the other is trailing a bit of Thai pink mulberry paper; there is unexplained ink on your hands.
  17. Then, suddenly, you are finished- can’t remember when you started, but it’s dark now. Looking around at the chaos, you feel GOOD.
  18. That’s right, collage had its way with you.
  19. The next morning it takes an hour, or two, to reorganize, put back, wipe down …you find the scissors, and the bag with the tans under the canvas cart.
  20. You arrange some of the collages for a photo shoot.

    Collage Postcards by Joan Desmond 2013

    ©2013, Joan Desmond, Collage Postcards.

  21. Hah! such a clean and tidy pic.
  22. Collaged, mail art postcards, ready for messages, addresses, and stamps. For the Grandkids. Sending some art through the mail.

Fresh from the Studio

April 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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by Joan Desmond 2013

©2013, Joan Desmond. Acrylic on canvas, 10″x 10″.

This means it may or may not be finished. I wouldn’t usually display such a work yet, but this one feels pretty close to finished. Anyway “finished” is a concept that needs discussing so I’m posting it.

When is a piece of art finished and ready to jump off the easel? Hah, the answer is… relative, vague, unclear, depends on the artist, what was for lunch, or maybe on an evening glass of wine. Generally, it’s a cumulative decision based on experience and that sense that anything else would be extra. It has something to do with accomplishing the idea you began with but also being mindful that a work develops its own direction as you progress. But that’s a whole other conversation.  Mostly, the work has to “pop”, stand on its own.

“Finished” is also intuitive, if you listen, the painting says, “That’s enough, put down the frigging brush!” It’s much better to stop before that point so the thing doesn’t look tight; something I still struggle with, as I like to push design and color to the edge.

What works best for me is to leave it sit out for a time period and just glance at it in passing. Often, if it’s not finished, my eye will keep coming back to something that bugs me, some unwanted tension. The perspective of time, which sometimes means six months and put it out of mind until you have more insight, is invaluable.

Then again, some works can come together in a day, title and all. This one is yet untitled. It reflects a stronger direction toward movement in my art, so perhaps something about dancing or rhythm. I’ve also been thinking about marbles. Go figure.

Doodle-Do

January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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doodle detail by Joan Desmond 2013

©2013, Joan Desmond, doodle detail.

Webster’s defines doodle as: (to) dawdle; trifle; an aimless or casual scribble, design, or sketch; also: a minor work; Synonymous with fooling around, messing around, fiddling, puttering, etc. The definitions imply that simply making marks on paper, idly, is something unworthy of serious consideration. I once believed that also. My understanding is different now. Now, I see doodling as very similar to intuitive painting. Art is all about making marks.

As a method, doodling is a great brainstorming, block breaking, and creative thinking exercise. Much different than an observational drawing or a planned composition, drawing without a set goal can access the subconscious and key into universal symbols, such as the circle, spiral and triangle. Doodling can also be a starting point. A writer will scribble a word or bits of thought on a scrap of a paper, a napkin, or a receipt, ideas that may develop into an essay, a poem. Similarly, a doodle may be the seed of something else, lead to new directions, highlight concerns, or exist on its own. Here, my doodle detail reminds me again of a love of pattern, and oh Yeah! a reoccurring artistic preoccupation with all things bird, wings, and flight.

Doodle On!

Sometimes

December 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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there is no answer to the question. But there will always be love and compassion as those are the most powerful forces that exist.

Glow by Joan Desmond

©Joan Desmond, Glow.

Dirty Windows and Such

December 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas, Photography | Leave a comment
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This December we are missing the sharp, frosty intensity of a California mountain winter. There were gray moody skies last week, but promised heavy rain pathetically sputtered and spit. I’m still watering plants, filling birdbaths, and turning sprinklers on a small patch of lawn, hopping around jackrabbit droppings from three that still visit every morning.

Boots and sweaters are hiding in the closet from all of this bright sun. There is a particular quality to such winter light, cool air yet clear, putting a keen edge on objects, casting color a little deeper.

I’ve spent more time observing, recording in drawings, looking, looking; there was even an urge for clean windows when looking out from the living room. Then sinking stomach regrets with the first thump of a bird attempting a fly through, panicked whirring of wings, then another thud. Investigating outside I found two dying quail, a male and female, on the front deck and the resident Coopers hawk gazing down from the gray pine. Wait, this is a repeat scene. Has the hawk figured out? … He frequently strafes the driveway low, toward the house, rousting gathered birds. Now the dilemma, how to retrieve kill next to that reflecting glass door?

It waits, watches, the birds cool. I wait inside, conflicted, don’t interfere… but it would be such a waste … more wait, but eventually limp feathered bodies lie at the end of the driveway. The hawk held its position 20’ above as I walked out. Then more waiting behind the shiny window while watching that thin, twisting, angling neck up there. Two ravens fly in and are attentive. Come on hawk, poster child for excellent eyesight, the deck is empty now. Minutes, many minutes go by.

Finally deciding in a swift, determined, don’t turn your head or you’ll miss my Coopers’ move, it swoops, snatches, and zooms off heavily laden. “Wow, it’s almost as big as you are!”

In an unusual departure from my more abstract images, there’s now a raptor painting in progress in the studio; but then it’s an unusual month. Oh, and the windows are dirtying up again.

Coopers Hawk2012 by Joan Desmond

©2012, Joan Desmond, Coopers Hawk.

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