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The Cat Is Out Of The Bag

I let the cat out of of the bag last week about how my abstract paintings came to be. Not that it was some big secret, but last week's Popcorn Garland show opening at Mitchell Hill gave me my first real opportunity to share about my abstract process in person. A variety of art admirers were interested in my body of work that consisted of marshscapes AND abstracts. They wanted to know what inspired each and I was happy to reveal my story.

As I mentioned in my last post, my abstracts are like surprises to me. There is no pre-planning beyond perhaps the color palette. I just "go with the flow" until I get that good feeling inside.

What I didn't reveal to you was how the idea of painting abstracts was born in the first place. It took me lots and lots of practice to end up with marshscapes that I was excited to hang up on a gallery wall or post on social media. If I didn't immediately wipe the duds as I often do, I'd add them to my "practice" bin in the corner of my studio.

They started to pile up, which is a good thing because it was proof that I was practicing and working hard, but (goodness!) there sure was a lot of money spent on panels for them to just sit around in a bin. One day, the cheap, I mean resourceful, side of me decided to try to salvage one of them from the bin by painting over it. Because of all the texture, it would have been difficult to paint another marshscape on top without sanding and gessoing it down, so I just started making some marks. I quickly started to notice that the dud served as a neat first layer to the abstract that I was unwrapping.

Here's an example of a great 40 brushstroke or less exercise that I did last spring at Anne Blair Brown's "Brushwork Bootcamp" workshop in Tennessee. Let me be clear, the exercise was great for considering intentional brushwork, but the piece was not one for the public eye. It'd been sitting in time out over in the corner since March...

This November during my abstract focus, "Just Dandy" was unwrapped in my studio on top of that 40 brushstroke exercise.

(If you're wondering why I keep saying "unwrapped", just refer to my last blog post for clarification. I think it's a pretty good analogy if I say so myself.)

I'm especially loving that I decided to allow the tick marks on the bottom left corner (used to keep track of my 40 brushstrokes in the original exercise) to show through.

(Avaliable at Mitchell Hill in Charleston, SC)

Here are a few others from my UNWRAPPED series that I feel like are stronger pieces because of that bad or maybe not so bad, depending on how you look at it, "first layer".

(Available at Mitchell Hill in Charleston, SC)

(Available on my website under my UNWRAPPED series.)

(Available on my website under my UNWRAPPED series.)

So there you have it... the cat is out of the bag!

(Where in the world does this expression come from anyway? And why was the cat ever in the bag? And for how long?)

I've been pleased with the feedback I've gotten so far on this process. I'm all ears if you want to chime in. (Now that's an expression that totally makes sense.)

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