Abstract 2

Abstract 2 Watercolor 6" x 6"

Around the time I was working on the Wall pieces, I was asked by Art Preserve (a small gallery in NODA run by Paula and Jan, two ultra-cool women who, to my knowledge, do not read this blog so I can say that in all honesty without appearing to suck up) to submit works for an upcoming show of abstracts. I was a little off-put by this request at first because I’m not an abstract artist. But it ended up being a blessing. I had become rather entwined in my current subject matter and had begun to wholly focus my attentions on making it work, despite the fact that it wasn’t and I had no idea how to fix it.

When I get stuck, I have found that the thing to do is reboot; to walk away from what I’m working on and just start playing around with the medium, watch for things to happen, and slowly start rebuilding from the ground up. These 6″ x 6″ abstracts are the result of just that. In fact, it was this “rebooting” process I began my first blog with a couple years ago. So it was an appropriate and timely process to do. I ended up producing 18 of these little gals, nine of which made it to the frame and the wall. Six are on display at Art Preserve as of this writing, and three are hanging in the current hall display at McColl Center for Visual Art. By the time I had completed these, I did have a new lease on my “creative direction,” and was able to reconsider exactly what I was doing and where I wanted to take it.

Wall 4

Wall 4 Watercolor 12

The trick to these was to develop some sense of texture. Watercolor is mostly texture-free, unless you count the tooth of the paper. There are the old standard techniques of using wax resists and salts to create textures, but I didn’t use these much. I wanted to adhere to basic washes and brushstrokes, yet still create textural nuances.

 

My solution was to do running washes in the initial stages. Soaking the paper to a watery mess, I then propped them fully vertical. Using Cadmium colors and some sepia, I would brush on chunks of fresh paint along the top quadrant of the building area and let gravity pull the pigment down creating natural stridations on the paper. At this stage it looked pretty psychedelic. But heavy layers of transparent colors on top unified the bright underlayers and created an interestingly textural effect without being literal.

Wall 3

Wall 3 Watercolor 22

A friend of mine told me a few years ago that, in a word, I liked “dirt.” Upon reflection it was a remarkably accurate description. He was talking about my tastes in forms of expression; movies like “Wages of Fear” that does have plenty of literal dirt, but is also about characters beaten down to dirt; music like Tom Waits or the White Album; in visual art, Anselm Keiffer, William Kentridge, or Ashcan. Ironically, this never really came out in my art where I adhered to the rules of cleanliness with mostly bright attractive colors.

With these pieces, I tried to remedy that. I got down and wallered in them, ignoring rules of watercolor crispness, often intentionally reversing the rule to make mud.

 

Wall 2

Wall 2 Watercolor 22

Since my last post (not counting the last “new” blog, now the old “new” blog), I began an 11-month residency at McColl Center for Visual Art. That was around late March, which means I am now diving into my fourth month there. With eight months to go, I am now entering the second act, or the middle game. Things are starting to turn and gain momentum, but for now I’m going to recap a few of the works I have made so far. It’s been a rough go, with lots of false starts and a growing stack of waste paper (at $10 a sheet). Here are a few of the highlights;

Both Wall 1 and Wall 2 were basically attempts to pick up the pieces from where I had left off with the Construction watercolors. Urban theme, facade composition with variations… But now I had gone back to old construction, the ones having stood the test of time, this time from behind where they have not received the constant make-over with each new owner. In the back outside of public scrutiny, the walls are canvases of their own history. Nothing cleaned or erased, just years of rust, graffiti, dirt, and paint layered into rich textures and forms. Focusing on textures along with the relationships of windows and other decorative elements. I thought it was a great idea, but it never quite took off.

 

By the way, for a larger view of these images, just click on the picture. Cool, hunh?

Wall 1

Wall 1 Watercolor 15" x 22" (Click on Image for large view)

I am up again after a few technical gaffs on the blog. The Picture Mill is now on a new hosting server, which seems to have resolved compounding issues beyond my lack of expertise. So this is a another new blog, but I have re-upped the old blog for archival purposes. It’s messy and lacks some basic functions, but all images and comments appear in tact and navigatable. The old blog can now be found at;

http://ashleylathe.com/wordpress

 

Anyhoo, I’m starting this new blog like I started the previous with an image of “Wall 1,” one of the initial directions that was eventually abandoned. More on that later. For now I have to clean up around here, wipe the construction dust away, mop a little. Just in case someone stops by…