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


Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's taken until my very last day out here for all the thinking, working, writing, worrying, reading, walking, looking, and the rest to congeal into the feeling I am going home refreshed.  I'm not sure a vacation has ever taken so long to sink in; then again, I've never been crushed by the particular challenges that have been crushing me.  (Or had to work so many hours teaching and editing while on vacation.)

I am so, so satisfied to see that the drawings are starting to suggest their next direction.  It's a feeling I've not had in a long, long time, and it is such a relief.  I'm luxuriating in it, allowing it to develop of its seeming-own accord while I work.

My students are expressing curiosity about the nature of inspiration.  (I actually detest the word.)  I've been sharing Picasso's perspective - that it exists but has to find you working.  It's a perfect description, yet I've not been living it.  In working steadily for just these two weeks, it has returned to felt experience.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Office of George J. Stretch, Ocean Beach, Fire Island
I'm wrapping up my time on Fire Island, ready to be going home.  The weather has been gray and rainy more than not over the two weeks, and it's starting to take a toll on my mood.  I'd rather be in Brooklyn at this point, back with my home and cats and Prospect Park, than with the beach a two-minute walk away, but not really available.  I have worn shoes less than a single day while here, and I will miss barefootedness.
I spent today on a new drawing and need to add a third word to my two-word statement:  essence.  Each piece needs to be built of as little as will hold it up. (And built is specifically apropos.)  Anything more dilutes, muddies, distracts.  None of this is new realization, but in returning to the studio after a period of absence or distance, it is a relief.  Like I recognize myself and can accompany myself moving forward.  The necessity is to keep working and defending the time.  The drawings have something, yet want something.  If I bring a freshened connection to the work home with me, and build on it, I'm satisfied.  The work is such a solace, yet equally a source of discomfort.

A teensy spider took a hike on my drawings, then up a spool of thread.

Spider, Thread, Planes in Japan Post-Tsunami
(thread, vellum)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ocean Beach Parking Lot
I've been on Fire Island now for more than a week - the most incredible gift of time I could ask for.  My intentions were for this to be a self-created residency; my applications were not accepted. The immersion of a residency isn't possible (so the word itself is a stretch), as I am teaching an on-line course and have other work that must be done, but the amount of time that I can call my own is generous.  I've been wanting to write here, but always finding the time better spent, whether working in my makeshift studio, reading, or just being on vacation.  I try to accept that I need to restock if I'm to produce, so have allowed restocking to find its form.

Yesterday I walked from Ocean Beach to the Fire Island Pines, with a detour through the Sunken Forest and the paths of Cherry Grove.  How often are we truly, truly alone without any sense of what the next few minutes will bring, yet not anxious?  It's early in the season here, and so I had long stretches of true solitude - on the beach, in the forest, on the town walkways.   Incredible!  I'm glad to be comfortable in my own company, while realizing I don't necessarily need to be solo for the rest of my life.

I brought materials to continue with the vellum and thread.  As it turns out, the 19x25" format hasn't worked.  I don't see them resolving and stored them away for awhile.  I brought the 9x12 pad and have completed (I think) two drawings.  While at first it was essential that the photos I worked from be my own, without thinking I moved to images from the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  I was amazed at how quickly this moved from the front page.  Our memories are so short; we move so quickly to the next thing

Making the drawings, I keep thinking of fragility and impermanence and see that those two words are as complete an artist statement as I may ever write.  Anything else I have to say is in reaction to - or layered upon - those ideas.

Other awarenesses:
  • Unless I'm working for someone else (students, money), I always think I should be doing something else.
  • By limiting my applied vocabulary to line with these drawings, I limit my subject matter to the man-made.  I don't know what to make of that.
  • I'm not applying for anything until my studio feels active and I feel like I can argue on my own behalf.  My short-term goal is to work only.  I want to update my Web site by Labor Day to coincide with the exhibit at Gallery Korea.  C'est tout.
I'm reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and will write about that tomorrow or so, as I have much to say.

Cottage Walk