Today was closing day for the teachers of the small private school where, for 6 years, I taught two classes in studio art at the middle school level. I won’t be back next year. While I won’t miss some of the hectic aspects of working at 2 campuses, I will miss working with the next group of creative thinkers.
Still, not working at the middle school will mean more time in the studio, more time for marketing, more time for discoveries. After my February exhibition I had a sense that things were going to change. Watercolor. Texture. Color…
Today Dec. 27 marks a special event for me. It was 30 years ago that I finally completed all requirements for my MFA, including my master’s exhibition. Well, now I’m gearing up for another solo show. I feel like I’ve been here before. Somehow, things seem familiar but with a twist. Now, what was my next step?
Feeding time, watercolor on paper, 6×9.” Copyright 2013 Anita L. Rodriguez
I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, much less Christmas, but I’m looking forward to 2014. With much gratitude to the many people who gently nudged me in this direction, I’m looking forward to a one person exhibition in February of 2014. Here’s hoping that the weather cooperates!
Tomorrow is my birthday, my personal new year’s day. After years of wishing for more, I’m finding that the word I reach for most often is “stop.”
What??? I’m definitely not quitting making art, but it’s become apparent to me that in the race between doing and being, I’m missing out. How so? Too many things got onto the To Do list, even if they weren’t really a priority. And today as soon as I let go of the need to do some stuff, I had fun reworking several paintings.
Sometimes, it’s best to rest from work. I think that’s what the Labor Day holiday in the US is for: a pause, a chance to re-think the value of work.
Does a teaching artist really have a summer vacation? I think not. In addition to planning my academic responsibilities for the upcoming year, I’ve been working a lot in the studio. I’ve got 2 small canvases near completion, a diptych and an 18×24 canvas awaiting documentation, several watercolors and my first weaving (still in progress). And I did some calligraphy one morning that brought a lot of joy – I thought only painting could do that for me! A lot of these current projects are ideas I’ve been stewing over awhile, some just manifest themselves. This type of working vacation suits me just fine.
Yesterday, Christmas came early for me. After I’d forgotten all about it (buried as I was by academic responsibilites), a package arrived for me from Southwest Art Magazine: two complimentary copies of their January 2013 issue where one of my paintings Garden Variety is included in The Art of Watercolor section. That was enough of a treat but the entire magazine is so beautiful. Reading how other artists approach their work and of the galleries in the western US was inspiring.
Many years ago before finishing grad school, I had 3 pieces published in a small quarterly; unfortunately, I didn’t follow up on the momentum that provided. This time I’m following up on that inspiration.
In the November issue of Professional Artist magazine, there’s an article about realist painter Mel Leipzig. His paintings are great as are his methods but I found the most absorbing theme to be his resolute pursuit of realism in the face of obstacles. Realism never really goes out of style although other movements, styles and technologies come along. These new concepts are needed for the life of artmaking yet realism is sometimes dismissed as anachronistic. So, artists like Leipzig keep forging ahead, dedicated to personal vision, in spite of the voices that seem to insist that realism is done.
What an inspiration. I took up my brush again with more dedication a few years back and I found his thoughts about education, the need for active studio practice and most of all the pursuit of personal vision to be just what I needed to hear.
For many years after receiving my MFA, I focused on teaching rather than making art. I’d still make art occasionally and put everything I had into the project, but I still considered myself an art teacher. I cherished my time in the classroom helping students address issues in drawing and watercolor painting, but it took a serious health event to shift my perspective.
I’m teaching again – no studio classes this time, but the fascinating history of art and art appreciation. This time though, I’m more committed to my studio practice. It’s like I’m getting another chance at this lyrical challenge.