Finishing by Patricia Raible

paul-cc3a9zanne-la-montagne-sainte-victoire-vue-des-lauves2.jpg

 

La Montagne Sainte Victoire vue des Lauves, 1901 – 06, Paul Cézanne

 

Is an artwork ever finished? Some artist can say yes, sign it, and let it go out into the world. Others, unless (it goes into the world) will keep changing and refining it. So we have finish as in “complete” and finish as in “process.”

 When I did a little research I found that Paul Cézanne was among the painters who left so many paintings incomplete. One historian blamed some of this on his analytical methods and his use of thickly placed layers of paint since it likely took months to finish any piece. But editors of a book called Cezanne Finished- Unfinished explain that the unfinished areas were possibly experimental at first but were later deliberate and provide us with insight into his creative process.

 This all started because I am constantly “finishing”—one of those who fits both definitions. Luckily, I don’t “finish” as in process (a cold wax rub for my paintings) because if it’s hanging in the studio I keep refining. Just a few days ago I decided that a small portion of a large painting wasn’t right, a painting that had been there for at least a couple months. I was disturbed that a shape in the corner seemed to lead your eye off the page. At least it was an easy fix and had not gone to a gallery or show.

 Harder than “finishing” the painting will be photographing the “newly finished” piece. 

 

Where Is Home? by Patricia Raible

 "Away," 14" x 11", Mixed media collage

"Away," 14" x 11", Mixed media collage

Sometimes home is the place where we live physically, where we earn our living, where our children play in the park, where we walk our dog. Other times “home”  is another physical location, somewhere else—away. Because to be home we must find solace. It must stir our heart.

Some of us have several homes, though similar. Don’t get me wrong. I love the house I share with family, but the place that gives me solace is nature: the mountains, the rivers, the fields, the marshes, the ocean. I think I am made of a bit of it all. I breathe it in and become part of it.

“Away” was inspired by a trip to the barrier islands of the Carolinas.

 

Shifting Fragments by Patricia Raible

   Shifting Fragments    16" x 16" Mixed media painting with collage on deep wood panel

Shifting Fragments  16" x 16" Mixed media painting with collage on deep wood panel

 

We all know you can’t prepare for everything. We want change that is gradual and slow so we can see it coming, but life has way of sideswiping you when you least expect it.

Almost 6 years ago my husband had a “heart incident” as we like to call it. His heart fluttered, skipped a beat and threw a small clot. Even the paramedics could find nothing wrong when they arrived, but he felt a pain like “toothache” in his chest. So just to be safe he went to the hospital. While there was no damage, we discovered that sometimes he has an irregular heartbeat. “Sometimes” was really hard to deal with at first, but now after so much time he just exercises, eats right, and carries nitroglycerine in his pocket.

 I was reminded again of how slowly, and quickly, things change and could change, while hiking the trails in Stone Mountain State Park. The large rock faces with layers and splits big enough for climbing were formed by geological exfoliation. While they seem impenetrable, as if they will be there for thousands of years, the reality may be different. The change to these rocks is climate related and normally happens very slowly, but according to the park rangers because we don’t know the depth of the splits there is always the risk that rocks, particularly those with vertical and horizontal cracks, will shatter and slide. Of course, should there be an earthquake, they could crumble very quickly.

 It’s both a bit scary and a bit comforting how human life parallels nature.   Mostly, the changes are gradual, but we are all shifting.

 

 

Graveyard Fields by Patricia Raible

 Graveyard Fields, 36" x 48" x 3", Mixed media collage painting on deep wood panel

Graveyard Fields, 36" x 48" x 3", Mixed media collage painting on deep wood panel

This new painting was inspired by a hike in late August along a trail called Graveyard Field in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a flat mountain valley just off the parkway surrounded by mountains like Black Balsam Knob, Tennent Mountain, and Sam Knob. The day we hiked the goldenrod was already evident as were the wild blueberries and many people left carrying overflowing hats, pails, and milk jugs.

It was an easy hike except for the climb to the falls, but I was most fascinated by the boardwalks that keep the trail elevated in areas that tend to flood—and the flatness even though you are at 5,000 feet elevation. The Park Service history says the name may have come from a windstorm fell that downed hundreds of trees or extensive logging in the early 1900’s. Either way the stumps eventually resembled moss-covered graves. Later fires devastated the entire valley, apparently heating the soil enough to sterilize it so that plants had difficulty growing. Now some trees, shrubs, and grasslands are slowly thriving.

It is a ghostly landscape, but an enriching one as well. Like most of my trips into the woods I leave feeling very large, yet very insignificant at the same time—and very much at peace.

 

Connections by Patricia Raible

 Detail of "Fight Song," 36" x 24", mixed media on board

Detail of "Fight Song," 36" x 24", mixed media on board

This past weekend was the second time in as many weeks that I visited my mother and she did not know me. There are many possible reasons for this—medication, the progression of her Lewy Body Dementia, the fact that she is waking from a deep sleep. 

It saddens me in many ways, but once I tell her who I am and help her connect, there is still lucid conversation. When I tell her about my four-month-old grandson’s crying and tummy troubles, she remembers my brother who died in August. Then she says: “You were no trouble, always happy.” Of course, this is not what she said while I was growing up or what she would have said a few months ago, but it is lovely to hear. I have to fight the tears because I want us to talk about happy memories, and I want to keep her connected to the present as long as I can.

So how does this relate to art? I think it has to do with the layers that I texture, paint, and collage. I was reminded of this when teaching a workshop this past weekend. My paintings have so many layers, some of which I like and some of which I don’t.  I may bring one to the surface and then decide I don’t like it or don’t like part of it. Or I may create a layer that is a combination of what is below and the new elements I add to the top.

Putting something new on the surface doesn’t change that initial layer; it just adds to it, making it richer, more complex. It connects each piece, allowing me to focus on what is most important. Life is like that too.

The Rewards of Sharing by Patricia Raible

 "Dual Duty," 16" x 20," Mixed media on deep wood panel   

"Dual Duty," 16" x 20," Mixed media on deep wood panel

 

I think sharing is important no matter what you do. You would be surprised that so many people are interested. “Show and Tell” is not just for kindergartners.

For the full blog go to https://wordpress.com/posts/patriciar2013.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Positives from Negatives by Patricia Raible

unfinished painting

“What do you do with everything that is cut away?” she asked Tilman, thinking now about the negative space of stone sculpture, the stone that is discarded, thinking too about how she had thrown away huge pieces of her own early life…”
from The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart.

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Effort Not Attainment by Patricia Raible

 "No Going Back," 14.5" x 14.5", mixed media on deep wood panel

"No Going Back," 14.5" x 14.5", mixed media on deep wood panel

You know how you hear something, but don’t fully take it in. Then some time later, you finally really hear it. Yesterday in yoga class this happened. As encouragement the instructor said, “Its about effort not attainment. I wish I could tell you I was focused on my yoga practice, but all I could think about was my art....

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