Last time I shared a video of what I’ve been up to in the studio lately.
It was about a group of 9 paintings I’ve been working on and calling the “Signs of the Sea.”
I promised then to tell you how I came up with the name…
So…I was crazy lucky to visit the west coast last summer.
I tagged along while my husband attended a conference in San Francisco…a city that is so easy to fall in love with…I could write a whole post about it! Maybe next time.
What matters in my “little art world” at the moment is what I saw after we headed out of the city. We went about 30 miles north and stopped at the stunning Point Reyes National Seashore.
Although, my first love will always be the Jersey shore I couldn’t wait to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
I could hear the pounding surf while I made my way down the tiny path through the wild dunes. As soon as I reached the open beach, sneakers came off and I walked straight into the wind to the water’s edge. To my amazement, the sand was covered with the most beautiful seaweed I’d ever seen. It was green and glass-like. Translucent tendrils washed ashore from some deep ocean garden.
To me, it felt like script of an unknown language written on pages of sand.
Curling lines forming imaginary letters. Taller than a man from root to tip. That I couldn’t read this calligraphy didn’t matter. I felt in some way I understood the story.
It somehow survived the crash of waves. Arrived whole and beautiful, an offering from the sea to the sand.
It lay in the light for the first and last time. In some places, I could see the green lines already drying to dust in the sun.
At that moment it seemed sacred. A sort of message about life. About water, salt and sun. About how to grow, live and die.
A… Sign of the Sea.
Back in my studio.
I wanted to make paintings about that moment. I thought they might be green brush strokes on simple backgrounds.
The thing is when I got to work that isn’t what happened at all.
That moment on a California beach was only the beginning.
I started with muted sand tones.
I felt pulled to have some sense randomness and squeezed thick white paint out of ziplock bags. Forming bright lines and dots.
I poured on washes of color and pulled it off again with Q-tips and rags. Finding endless shapes in the spaces left behind.
Then hours filling in tiny details made with tiny brushes.
At times, when painting I feel my brain lock in on a sort of beat.
An inner drumming, that I don’t want to let go. There is a kind of curiosity to see what happens if I follow it.
This is good.
Painting is more interesting when I feel like it’s going into something unknown. And, although I don’t always like it, life is also more interesting when it feels like it’s going into something unknown.
It’s has been many months since I dipped my toes in the Pacific.
The paintings aren’t yet finished. Though, I can feel they are getting close.
They aren’t simple like the seaweed that inspired them.
They are abstract connections to a tangible ocean and unconscious waters.
I like to think of them both written and revealing…signs of the sea.