Apartment transition to art studio
I rented a spacious, one-bedroom apartment not far from the Proton Therapy Center and have made it over as an art studio. I elected not to create in oil paint due to the odor and the mess factor. Instead, I am concentrating on oil pastels, drawing in charcoal and graphite, and watercolor. The living area of the apartment became the oil pastel studio with two easels and two work tables and the bedroom a watercolor studio with the work table set up before a large picture window. In each space I laid out source materials and equipment.
I started by reviewing resource materials ranging from old National Geographics of the 1920s and 1930s, a plethora of photography books featuring Morocco, and finally my own photographs from 1967 to 2019 and sketchbooks from 1986, l988, and 2019.
For the oil pastels I selected 100% cotton, cold pressed Arches paper commercially prepared to receive oil media. These 30 x 22 inch sheets were then squared off to 29 x 21 inches picture space and taped onto a gator board measuring 32 x 24 inches.
With the mounted paper now secured onto the gator board and placed on the easel, I began with soft charcoal and graphite to make random gestural marks, occasionally using a yard-stick to create straight and diagonal lines. As I worked, I saw shapes, weights, values, directions, areas materialize and began to let these elements dictate what I did next. Once the linear composition took over, I added color with the oil pastels. The paper has a significant tooth, so I applied the pastel softly but with the intention of applying it heavier and thicker later as I completed it.
Three of Erfoud Gourds, 2020. Oil Pastel on Paper, 21 x 29 Inches.
Once the color was added, the composition becomes more complicated and energies/forces act in harmony and in dissonance. At this point, just contemplation becomes an important ingredient in the creative process. Just looking at what is before you and assessing it becomes paramount to a successful conclusion. Turning the composition in four different directions is helpful because with each turn another possibility happens. I had considered eliminating recognizable elements, e.g. palm fronds, as they necessitated the composition be in one certain direction with the bottom as the base, or earth. However, upon further consideration, I do not want these paintings devoid of physical references. How else to convey in an abstract way a lived experience? So, these oil pastels have titles which reflect on what is being presented and harken back to a place when the experience came about.
Tangier Window, 2020. Oil Pastel on Paper, 29 x 21 Inches