Saturday, September 11, 2010

First blog ...

The time has come for me to venture into the blog world.  I'm a Southerner and this means I'm a story teller through sheer genetics.  We love to spin yarns, relive and retell the particularly good stories and rabbit trail from here to yon in the process.  Those close to me know that I have a habit of telling the same stories over and over.  It's considered an amusing and (I'm hoping) endearing quality by those who I hold dear ... but no matter how hard I try, I'll never shake my love of living tales over and over.  I suppose it's why all the art I create has a tale to tell.  I've never been the girl to paint a fruit basket and feel good about it.  Something has to happen, someone has to die or there must be the hint of something extraordinary for me to get invested in it.

Southerners can appear macabre.  I have a fondness for taxidermy.  I revel in the darkest of Flannery O'Connor short stories.  I prefer a sad ending to a happy one.  I like guns.  Ghost stories and haunted places.  Antique books and photographs.  I grew up in a family of hunters, sleeping on a bear skin rug occasionally and doodling my grandfather's menagerie of hunting trophies while inventing names and personalities for them.  I find dead things comforting rather than unsettling.  I love the rich smell of old leather and books.  I collect random oddities like civil war bullets, arrowheads, antique postcards and vintage religious icons.  My ears perk when someone starts talking about days long before I was born.  My Southern elders did such an excellent job spinning wild tales of days gone by that anything historic is given an epic luster in my eyes.  If it's old or forgotten then I can believe there is a legend or sensational story just waiting to be uncovered.  My imagination has always been happy to oblige when it comes to filling in the blanks.

I keep an album of very old photographs ... some are even tintype.  Some of my paintings are born of this habit ... because I always wind up fabricating a story about the people in them ... long dead ... now forgotten.  How strange that they wind up in a shoebox in some random rural Tennessee flea market ... and now a virtual stranger treasures and preserves them.  "Perhaps he was a war hero ..." or "she must have been a spy" ... or even more alluring "the woman looks like her heart is broken ... she found her trapeze artist lover in bed with the circus clown."  I can't help it.  It's what my mind naturally does.

Because I'm Southern, I also obsess over the spiritual.  I was raised Southern Baptist ... but don't really affiliate denominationally anymore.  I've always been drawn to the reverence and epic treatment of religion found in Catholicism.  If art is divinely inspired, then I think the Catholics got it right.  The tiny Southern churches I frequented as a little girl felt so "common" and so pedestrian ... my brain could never accept that God would be found in such a place.  Gold guilding, statues of mournful saints, holy paintings and candles ... this little girl understood why ghosts--human or holy--would want to be in a Catholic cathedral.  And the only stories that can beat the ones that a deep Southerner will tell you are the ones found in the Bible.  War, glorious kings, brave queens, talking serpents, floating arks full of animals, dragons, feats of valor, tales of rape & incest, sacrifice, and tragic endings ... talk about wild.

Why am I rambling so much?  Truth be told I'm justifying my own work.  When I paint, it's with purpose ... to tell a story boldly and wildly.  I love the idea that the mind wants to know ... to understand ... to fill in the blanks.  My titles typically suggest a world beyond the obvious ... and I'm unapologetically strange.  Don't paint me a fruit basket.  I'd honestly rather see dogs playing poker.  The apple never robbed a bank ... but the Boston Terrier may have turned to the dark side after watching his owner meet a gruesome end at the hands of his jilted lover (who became a nun shortly thereafter).  Do you see where I am going with this?  For those of you who scoff at illustrators as "less than" a fine artist ... suck it.  Illustration tells a story, which is why it will always be my favored approach to art.

This blog will serve as a rambling place for this rabbit trailing soul.  I'll muse and rant narcissistically about my own work.  I'll post art & artists who inspire me.  I'll probably be a fool and post other unrelated and unimportant things from time to time as well.  I'm doing it just for me anyway ... though I suppose it would be nice to gain a reader (or two).  I'll love you even more if you give me a good story ... so I can paint it.

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