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  • Writer's picturelisa

In the Weeds - as the world shuts down, outside thoughts move in.

Updated: May 15, 2020

The mysterious inner alarm clock that alerts my dogs at a certain time each day is extremely accurate.Their restlessness coincides with my own feeling that I need to take a break, though I’m often reluctant to leave the studio. Maybe a troublesome area I’ve redrawn many times still isn’t right, or a shape I just painted red suddenly screams “lavender!”. They understand, correctly, that continuing to plod through another revision will not yield results... It's time to head for the woods.

Science contends that dogs and humans co-evolved, partners on the path to domestication. I want to believe this as I picture the two species sharing a hot cup of genes by an ancient campfire. In a field near my house I see my dogs searching for clues to some fascinating narrative that I am not privy to. The story unfolds for them in subtle natural scents, a language lost to suburban humans. Now and then they're hyper-focused curiosity is tempered by moments of indecision as they become startled by an innocuous falling branch, or odd sound. Step by step, acre by acre, they demonstrate how the park we've visited a hundred times still holds secrets.

And what does this have to do with art? Well to come clean, there are few experiences that I can’t wring for some art-making relevance. Let’s call it a knack. So, watching the dogs prod the ground, sniffing patches of rotting leaves like they’re plowing through a bestseller, I see a familiar part of my studio experience.

What is it about having a space to explore; even one the size of a canvas? How does fixating on an image or idea fuel an artistic investigation? The tunnel vision required to pursue and define pushes me just a little closer each day to a transient mental picture. Deep in this exploration I wrestle with self scrutiny and doubt as I coax an idea toward resolve, a destination I alone recognize.Tangents within bodies of work take shape following trails that sometimes lead to experiments with unorthodox materials, methods, or shifts in color that may not make immediate sense. Some of these trails end abruptly, which in no way diminishes the value of following them. The artwork we love appears to be the byproduct of these obsessive quests. Like the digging of a curious dog, my work attempts to unearth an elusive thing that lies beneath many sodden layers of who knows what. I keep up the search partly from instinct, and partly because I'm convinced that the unnameable thing I'm looking for must be huge and stuffed with magic, making even a glimpse enough incentive to keep digging. Faced with the whole naked thing itself after all, could just as easily be the stuff of nightmares, as of dreams.

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