The gallery names Formations, Explorations, Observations, Recognitions were not meant to be artificial or presumptuous, but because the simpler “Painting” and “Drawing” categories did not seem to fit very well. The process and the purpose of the making were better concepts for me to organize around.
“Formations” for the paper reliefs was obviously a category that could stand on its own. It is for me play and manipulation of form in a more concrete and physical way than the two-dimensional work that is my primary thread.
Process and Craft are part of all artwork, of course. But I wanted to emphasize that for much of my drawing and some of my painting, process is central and the motivating force. The physical, kinesthetic gesture, the touch, the tactile and textural contact with the surface and the physical properties of the material help me get underneath my mind and my conscious control. Control is part of craft but also subject to habit and limitation. I tell my students that the first attention they must get is their own. If they can’t surprise and delight themselves, how can they expect it from their audience? Thus the category: “Explorations.”
Under “Observations” I group two visually different bodies of work, but whose purpose is fundamentally the same. The single longest-standing art Practice is based on working from observation, painting or drawing or sculpting from life. My own life drawing does not exactly fit the academic model, but it is very much about the intensity and persistence of seeing and about regularly reclaiming the sensitivity to organic form. In fact, there is a relationship between these drawings and the paper relief formations I think.
The other images under “Observations” are small paintings done from life where the idea is to start and complete a piece each day. This is a practice followed in diverse ways such as the famous “morning pages” of Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way (theartistsway.com), or more specific practices such as the 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, the small musical notations of Bobby McFerrin , the paintings of Duane Keiser.
“Recognitions” again includes drawing and painting. These are not so much about process as about purpose and Meaning. There is some original intention for these, but the process has to be slow developing in order to invite images to gather around the original idea, to refine or complicate and certainly to deepen something held tenuously at first. There is a tension created by the proximity of gathered images and holding that tension allows me to notice, to recognize something that emerges from it that I can develop further and that leads me deeper into the purpose than I might consciously be able to go.