What I Did This Summer

Studio shot, taken this week. Series is as yet untitled
I don't usually show unfinished work, and certainly not crowded onto one wall and shot with my iPhone. But after a summer series that featured the work of many other artists here on the blog, I wanted to give myself some equal time. Plus I'm really digging what I have done . . . and I want to post it now.
Summer is my time to work on paper. It's a personal tradition I look forward to. The studio is cool. I feel about as relaxed as I'll feel all year, so what comes out is what has been percolating. I knew I wanted to continue my work with the diamond. I did the Soie series in a previous summer, culminating in a solo at the Marcia Wood Gallery in April 2011, and since then I've worked on Diamond Life paintings for group shows.
 Left: 2011 Diamond Life solo at Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta; painting and framed works on paper
Right: Lush Geometry group show at DM Contemporary, New York City, this past May-June, with Diamond Life 18, 2012, encaustic on panel, 22 x 22 inches, below. It was a short conceptual leap from this . . .

. . . to this
As yet untitled, about #10 in a series of 24 on 300-lb. Fabriano hot press, 30 x 22 inches
So, back to paper. I love the feel and weight of 300-lb. hotpress, I love its creamy whiteness and the soft thunder it makes when it ripples as you move it. The 30-by-22-inch size is perfect, a nice change from the equilateral proportion, square or diamond, I normally work with. The challenge I set for myself was to work achromaticallynone of that color that I slip into so comfortably–and to limit myself to graphite suspended in alcohol so that I could paint it on. Compositionally, I focused on one primary shape, the diamond, and a secondary shape the square, sometimes used as a grid.

As yet untitled, #1 in the series 

As yet untitled, somewhere about #8 in the series. Notice how a square slipped into the composition? Sometimes, you know, you just have to give the picture what it wants 

I set the diamond into an indeterminate space. I wanted it to spin, advance, recede, hover, spit, kick, explode or float without denying my formalist, minimalist impulse to be clean, centered, reductive. I got into the yin and yang of it. As for the grid, it defined the picture plane, pushing the diamond visually off the page; other times it sucked everything in.
As the work progressed I decided to introduce one more material element into the work: iridescent pearl, a micaceous pigment in a stick of oil and wax. Over graphite it is reads as silver when the light hits it just right, otherwise gray. In addition to painting, I also got more physical, rubbing the graphite or pigment stick into the paper by hand, sometimes sgrafitto-ing the surface to achieve a weave pattern.
Above and below: as yet untitled
Toward the end of the series I used more pearlescent pigment. I love the surprise of it. From head on, it's gray, but from the side, there's a silvery refraction. See what I mean?  A small elongated diamond diamond worked its way into the series toward the end, too.

A new series beckons, inspired by the bottom-row-middle work you see in the opening picture. It's the diamond set into a square. Actually, I'm thinking print. I'd love to be invited to do such a series (hint, hint). Wherever it goes, you'll see it here eventually. Thanks for looking.


Eva said...

Excellent! I love them!

annell4 said...

I loved seeing your process. "Close to the heart."

bonny leibowitz said...

i love this series Joanne! beautiful writing on your intention, concept, practice and work as well

Roberta Warshaw said...

I think it is fine to show unfinished work. I enjoy reading about other artist's processes. I love this series.

I too do a lot of paper drawing in the summer. I am outdoors a lot and the sketchbook and colored pencils go everywhere. When I worked in watercolor, I loved 300 LB hot press. So smooth and creamy....I liked it much better than cold pressed.

Christine Sauer said...

Thanks for posting your in process work! It's intersting to see how the ideas developed. I also like seeing them all together informally on the wall like that. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this vibrant new series with us! It smacks of kinetic energy and mark making and contrasts; a real burst out of some of your more subtle work. I am quite enjoying this foray into a different medium.

Tamar said...

I love what is happening in this series Joanne. (Of course, I am partial to theme and variations.) In the photo of the studio wall I can see your mind at work as you explore density, transparency, and a range of grays. My faves are those where the diamond hovers over the grid. Looking forward to seeing where you take this!

Paul Behnke said...

Really loving the Black/White/Gray work, Joanne!

Joanne Mattera said...

Thank you, everyone.

Nancy Natale said...

These are really great. For my money (so to speak), I'm going for #8. I love that dark richness of the grid in the diamond that nearly disappears into a solid. And then that brushy fog around it! I'm so glad that this is the way you spend your summer "vacation." Here's hoping you get the invitation soon!

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

As much as I love these new works yours on paper, your commentary regarding your process and thinking makes this post even better. Thanks for sharing.

Fanne Fernow said...

I just got around to this post. I'm so happy I waited until I felt I had time to really look at it. I LOVE the image of all the work on the huge wall. To me, that's the money shot. and then the single shots just sucked me right in to the writing so lush (your word) that I could practically hear your voice. This work appears to have a true soul. Thanks.

mel prest said...

These are SO great, Joanne! I love them. The wobbly edges and smoky color are fabulous. I look forward to seeing them in person sometime soon.