All original images and text are copyright 2008-2018 Liz Sweibel


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Return to the Studio

It's been a long time since I went into my studio newly, with no work under way.  Since I begin with process and materials rather than idea, it's a matter of going in empty and hoping something will come out.  It's unnerving (at best), waiting without knowing what I'm waiting for or whether anything will come, but it's how I work.  My grad school theory instructor, Iain Kerr, introduced me to the idea of active waiting, and that's saved me from just plain waiting ever since.

I'm reading Anne Truitt's second journal, Turn; continuing to have her voice in my ear feels necessary and soothing after Daybook.  Truitt would see her sculptures whole in her mind's eye, then make them.  Executing a vision has never worked for me (as spontaneous expressiveness never worked for her).  So it's not about the studio in particular that makes Turn so valuable now, but Truitt writing about getting older, being alone, seeing changes in her body and energy, and remembering her childhood and parents.

I made some marks on small pieces of paper (most about 1 x 5") using black acrylic paint and a piece of wire.  The awkwardness of the tool made it impossible to fail (should I be foolish enough to seek success), and the marks would be something to react to.  I can't remember when I last touched raw materials, between working on the Web site and before that working digitally and before that making collages, which come about differently than my drawings.

The marks of black paint suggested a broken landscape and I began working into the gaps with graphite or colored pencil.  Each drawing has one type of mark or shape (lines, circles, squares, or x's) in one color beside the black.  I made about 15 of them, thinking and investing as little as possible.  It is remarkable how my touch, vocabulary, and concerns so insist on themselves.  These drawings are no more than the busywork of waiting, but they're still of me, and that is good and valuable reassurance at this delicate juncture.

I'm readying to recommit to my work as I haven't since losing my loft in October 2007, which was just three months after an incredibly affirming experience at Vermont Studio Center.  It is a new time for me, and I don't know what that means other than that my determination and need have become more powerful than the things that draw me away.