Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sliding on Down the Line

I've been thinking about this blog, and my aspiration to find ways to think about, create work partly motivated by, and talk about how our experience in the world as citizens connects with the life of art and aesthetics.

I've found myself, in my last several posts, blabbing on about the paintings I've been making and what I'm going to do next, and all the mechanics of making work. I try to make it interesting, and try to bring you along on what the process and experience is like, but ultimately I don't think that's what you and I want to be doing. I'm not really sure what we do want to be doing, but I will keep trying to find out. Writing, I suppose, is a lot like painting or making other kinds of art: you just have to keep puddling around until you feel you've got it right.

Sometimes painting is a heady, exhilarating experience, sometimes it's painful and frustrating. When it's boring, you just have to stop and do something else. Sometimes you make mistakes. No, that's not right: sometimes you experience the gift of making something wonderful happen that you didn't know you could do, didn't know where it came from, and you accept this gift gratefully.

When mistakes happen, it's because you aren't acting selflessly. You are imagining what you might do, where it might go, and forcing it to go there. I think that's what happened with the Priest of Schooling, at the top of this post. I put the gold foil in ("well, they're all supposed to have gold foil"...) and took away the wonderful watery blue.

I watched an interview with President Obama on Sixty Minutes this evening. He said he is constantly making decisions. Of course, he must make decisions based on evidence, facts, and assumptions about what's good for the country and what's bad for the country. I keep making decisions too, pressing forward, moving down the line. I wanted to do a Priest of Inflated Assets. It turned out to be even grosser than I imagined, like a horrible cancer. But then that is sort of what this whole economic thing has been about -- acting in ethically reprehensible ways and pretending it's great. I think he looks sort of like the Mona Lisa. That mysterious smile; those mysterious actions.

The new work on the blog this week is all in progress. It will certainly have more painting, and (like those guys on Wall Street) may even get some gold!

Finally, I want to let you know that I've decided to eliminate the FOLLOWERS widget on the sidebar. It feels weird to be soliciting "fans;" It came with the package when I was a young and green blogger, but now it seems wrong. I'll add the people who signed up there to my email list for notification when I put out a new post. And if anybody else wants to be on that list (or off that list), let me know by email at:

Thank you for your interest. I'm glad you like to read this blog, and welcome your input. If you want to comment, I'd be interested in hearing about whether you like the gold leaf or not, and why.


Anna said...

Janet: Re your question about the gold leaf. I can't really See the gold leaf on the paintings on my screen. I do like the paintings very much, though, and hope you'll continue making them. I like gold leaf in general - as in 14th century icons and 15th century painters like Piero della Francesca. I'm wondering if you are using real gold leaf or the fake stuff?

Jill Herrick-Lee said...

Hi Janet,
I love that you said mistakes happen when you don't act selflessly. It is so true! We have to get out of the way to let the art "roll" through.
I bet it was painful to cover the blue with gold leaf but in my opinion it was an act of trust in the process on your part. I feel the outcome is really powerful. It reminds me of the old church icon paintings. To me, that works perfectly with your Priests. It is interesting to me also, when I paint, how I grieve for the previous stage of all my work once I've altered it. It somehow always lives on inside me.
So grateful you do this blog. Keeps me inspired.

janetvanfleet said...

The leaf I'm using is gold foil leaf, not the real thing. When I was a child I found some real gold leaf among my stepfather's art things and had a great time letting it fly through the air. It wafted in such a cool way. Bad Janet!

Maggie Neale said...

I'm beginning to think of my blog as a journal which I actually put "out there" and I see that people go "there" for many places in the world. Maybe I will say something which will ripple out as thought to others. I like making a connection with you through your blog...and your process is revealed. It was even better to step into your studio but everyone can't do that. Just saw "Who does She think she is?" at GMFF....really enjoyed it...speaking of women, art and process. Was glad I could come here through Art Zine.

Eva said...

Regarding the gold leaf in the Priest of Schools...depending on whether you want the priest to look like he/she is breathing air and the fish are swimming in air (as seen with gold leaf added), or the priest is breathing water and the fish are swimming in water (as seen with blue background). The sadness of the priest is also underlined, sharper, with the gold leaf surrounding him/her. The blue background is softer. Best to you deciding what to do next.