Unexpected Detours Create Openings in a Once Rigid Studio Practice

by Lynda Schlosberg

After my solo show The Conscious Web at Kingston this past February, my studio practice took a three-month hiatus as I tended to a family member’s medical emergency.  My life was put on hold for weeks and then months. While that was all happening, I also moved my studio, taking my time making improvements to the new space as I slowly moved in. Once the dust settled I quickly began preparing for my Project Space show.


Sometimes a break from the creative process is a good thing. But too long a break, and disruptive “life-related” detours, had my creative thinking—and process—in a bit of an upheaval, not to mention a brand-new workspace that I had to adjust to. Usually a studio change is not a big problem for me, but this new space (a nearly triple increase in size) demanded some physical and emotional adjustments. I needed to find a specific way back into my work, and to feel comfortable in this new space.

While I had been working the previous year and a half on the paintings for The Concsious Web, new ideas had been steadily floating around in my head. Some of these were strong enough to break through the clutter of the insanity of my life and I used that as a starting point. Often in my process I “test” patterns and colors before committing hours and hours of laborious mark-making only to find I made the wrong choice. I do this by painting on clear acetate on top of an existing painting. The little test sheets become a kind of work of their own. When I was developing Breeding Ground I made this test sheet:


I loved how the spaces between the dots made the “threads” in the work visible by the absence of marks. I wanted to try a whole painting with just the dots defining the threads to see what would happen. So that’s where I started. I also decided that the easiest way back into my work was dropping all color decisions and working only in black and white.

It started with these four pencil drawings. I was interested to see how the exact same composition of threads would look in a variety of presenting them, as solid lines (positive and negative), and as dots (both positive and negative):


These studies then led to a whole bunch of studies that I worked on for a couple of months. Working on paper mostly, and combinations of graphite and gouache. (and yes, a few color pieces thrown in)


By now it was July, and time to get serious on a big piece for my upcoming exhibit! I decided to take yet another new approach to my process and started with the inspiration of a satellite photograph of glaciers in Greenland. This generated a starting point with some very large shapes defining a lot of the composition.


It started here:


Over the next two months I slowly introduced all of the mark making I had been playing around with in this piece. Going slower than usual and being very careful and conscious of my decisions.


And ended up with this finished body of work (just in time) for my exhibit Interwoven.



Interwoven is on view in the Kingston Project Space through October 29, 2017. For more information visit: http://www.kingstongallery.com/exhibitions/2017/october-julie-graham-incidental-matters.php

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