Painting as jazz - improvisation and exploration in the studio

Rippled, encaustic & mixed media on panel, 24 x 32", ©2011

Painting as jazz

When I started working on the pieces for Immersed I spent a lot of time thinking about my painting process. It’s been a very intellectually driven kind of activity, focused heavily on the content of the work and the integration of data/mapping with paint and other imagery. Kathi Reiester challenged me to paint about “just water - just surface, appearance, beauty, sensation”. A good challenge; one that forced me to loosen up and just let my arm swing. It didn’t hurt that these images are all based on photos I shot at a beautiful place - Wingaersheek Beach on Cape Ann, visited with my friend Lynda Cole a few years back.

Wingaersheek Ripples XIV, digital and encaustic monotype, 16 x 20" © 2011

Wingaersheek Ripples V, digital and encaustic monotype, 16 x 20" © 2011

These days I listen to jazz in the studio as I paint. Specifically I listen to my local NPR jazz station WEMU so Linda Yohn and Michael Jewett end up making the soundtrack to my studio practice as I work. As the mother of a young musician I’ve found myself spending more time thinking about the parallels in how musicians and artists approach their media and their art-making.

Wingaersheek Water Surface, digital, encaustic & mixed media on panel, 28 x 40" © 2011

Wingaersheek Ripples II, digital and encaustic monotype, 16 x 20" © 2011

In the studio I let the music take me to a loose improvisatory place where I can explore and experiment, aiming to set my judgmental tendencies aside for a separate time. This is not to say that the critical, intellectual part of my normal practice doesn’t enter into my current practice but rather that I aim to separate the two approaches in time so that I can bring a more painterly aspect to producing the work. That which doesn’t meet my standards never sees the outside of the studio of course but I hope that these pieces, especially the monotypes, reflect the exploration and joy of a good jam session.

All photos of artwork taken by Anne Savage.

Immersed runs until May 26 at the Gallery at the UM Duderstadt Center. The reception is this Thursday May 19 from 5-8pm


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