Painting for a show is quite different from painting day to day. First of all, there is the adrenaline rush and excitement of creating for a specific venue and event, along with being chosen to do so!
Then there are the parameters within which the work will be created and displayed. Such as the:
- Number of paintings needed
- Dates of delivery, the exhibition and the corresponding timeline
- Opening reception date
- Other participants
- Venue itself and the wall space
- Costs in creating a body of work
- Promotion and marketing schedule
Last November I responded to a “Call for Artists” from the Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, my home town. They were asking artists to submit an idea for an exhibition with several examples of current work. In December, I was notified that my work had been accepted and that I would be exhibiting with Ken McGowan. I was jazzed. We were paired together because our paintings spark curiosity and juxtaposes subject matter unexpectantly. There is a twist of surrealism, and lots of intrigue and color harmony. One of our goals is to inspire the viewer to ask questions. We decided that the title of our show would be “Beyond the Surface.”
I knew my work would focus on my “Windows to Wellness” paintings. I had been working on this theme for several months and now I needed to hone in on the images I wanted to create for this upcoming show.
How was I going to do this? What was my approach going to be? What was my message…. my vision?
Most exhibitions, except for retrospectives, are theme based or focus on a particular subject. Along with this, there are other parameters to consider because I want the show to convey a sense of cohesiveness. This can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Same color palette or use of color in every painting
- All paintings are the same size
- The technique and medium used is the same
- The presentation or framing of each work is the same
I chose #1, #3 and #4. My subject matter has never leaned toward same sized canvases and, I confess, I don’t like that restriction. My color palette from painting to painting would not be the same, but my use of color is. By this I mean, that each work is created using a particular color chord (e.g., green-blues with golden hues), and is harmonious.
Preparing and creating for “Beyond the Surface,” pushed my imagination more than I had predicted. The expectation of creating 10 new pieces by May 5th, was a new experience for me and a bit daunting. I was not accustomed to preplanning images/concepts that I intend to paint.
Usually, my images flow into one another. Sitting down and mapping out several paintings in sketches was not easy. In fact, it made my head hurt! However, I wanted to tackle the challenge. In addition, I wanted the images to include variety of bones from our skeletal system as well as introduce their connection to our nervous system.
I had to do some serious research. This took me to the internet, the library and to the book store. The variety of images and photos I unearthed was inspiring ….and a tad overwhelming. Eventually I identified the various bones I wanted to include in the show and my messages that went with each piece.
Using harmonious colors has always been and continues to be important to me because it provides unity and conveys beauty. This unity also makes it easier for people to see and appreciate the unexpected in my work, and spend time with unfamiliar, though sometimes uncomfortable, subject matter.
My overall mission/vision with this body of work is to show how our bones are alive and beautiful. And I also want viewers to think about how well they are taking care of their precious skeletal and nervous systems.
The next time you talk with an artist who has or is planning an exhibition, ask them about their approach. I think they will be surprised by your question and pleased.
Mark you calendars for the opening of “Beyond the Surface,” on Saturday, May 30th, at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, from 6-9pm.
Please share this information with others who may be interested.