Monthly Archives: October 2020

2020 Suite No. 3

"2020 Suite No. 3" - Carraher 2020

2020 Suite No. 3

Acrylic and ink on canvas. 14 x 11 in.

The final of the three paintings of the 2020 Suite.  The light value/temperature is really uneven in the photograph – I think a reflection of the unevenness inside and outside the studio these days.  The usual brilliance of October alternating with the smoke and haze of this very particular year.  The experience in the studio ranging between distracted and bleak.  The chaos just doesn’t quit, does it?  The dynamic will change eventually.  May it be soon.  And maybe then I’ll try re-photographing 2020 Suite No. 3.

Aquaria

"Aquaria No. 1" - Carraher 2020

Aquaria No. 1
Acrylic and ink on panel. 10 x 8 in.

So I’m having fun with these.  Brush, brayer, ink pen on white-gessoed panel.  The smooth surface gives me very different results than the rougher canvas I often use.  An exciting difference.

"Aquaria No. 2" - Carraher 2020

Aquaria No. 2
Acrylic and ink on panel. 10 x 8 in.

Pursued by Winter

"The Bear Pursued By Winter" - Carraher 2019

The Bear Pursued by Winter
2019.  Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 in.

The season is coming on slowly this autumn.  The temperatures are still warm, and the usual returning social celebrations that mark this season in the desert are muted in this covid year.  But at this time last fall, almost three years into this malignant Administration, the weather was already decidedly cooler, the days crisp and shortening.  The wildlife was noticeably changing their routine, and the vultures had already passed through on their annual migration to Baja.  I’m not sure why but I felt the impending winter keenly, a foreboding of darkness and potential loss.

And that’s when these two paintings happened, the one above and the other at the bottom of this post.   I showed them last winter in the Members Gallery at the 29 Palms Art Gallery.  They occasioned an interesting discussion with a musician couple from out of state, one afternoon while I was docenting.  The gentleman was particularly struck by their calligraphic character – a subject I can certainly hold forth on – and later he sent me images from a book about the evolutions connecting pictures, hieroglyphics, and alphabets.

But my interest goes beyond that, to the existence of line not as a sign, or in a literary, textual or narrative sense, but rather when line exists in a further dimension, as a manifestation in itself, of itself.  (See for example here and here and here.)  I’m most interested in what might be described as line’s abstract expressionist potential.

But then again, sometimes my line will indeed end up with that hieroglyphic or narrative quality, as might be seen in the images on this post.  Sometimes that happens, and I’m content with it.

Anyway.  Whatever my own thoughts or intentions with the work, in the end they bought the painting and I was glad they had it.  🙂

"Death Creeps In to Winter" - Carraher 2019

Death Creeps in to Winter
2019.  Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

2020 Suite

"2020 Suite No. 1" - Carraher 2020

2020 Suite No. 1
2020.  Acrylic and ink on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

I’ve been working at a relatively rapid clip these last few months, with several pieces usually in process at once.  I’ve been frankly voracious in my need to make things happen in the studio, almost like needing a drug high – not surprising, I suppose, considering the sense of futility that drains so much of our lives at this time.

Having multiple pieces in progress contrasts with how I worked for many years in pastel.  In that medium I most often worked with the piece flat on the table, applylng the pastel with a brush, and due to the fragility of the surface I needed to keep a lot of clear space around.  So there wasn’t much room to have more than one thing going on at once.  These pieces also tended to take more time in the planning and preparation than the execution.  Here is an example from 2016, from the Additional Dimensions series which derived from gesture drawings of deteriorating homesteads in my neighborhood:

"Three Walls" - Carraher2016

Three Walls
2016.  Pastel on sandpaper, 12 x 22 in.

Clearly my work now often skips that planning and preparation stage, as I increasingly prize spontaneity directly on the substrate.  With pastels the spontaneity usually went into the informal gestural sketch from which the painting was developed.  I did draw directly with the pastels at times however – as in this homestead from 2007:

:Blue-Green Cabin" - Carraher 2007

Blue-Green Cabin
2007.  Pastel on paper, 18 x 24 in.

…or this one from the same year:

"Desert Gothic" - Carraher 2007

Desert Gothic
2007.  Pastel and charcoal on paper, 22-1/4 x 13-1/2 in.

Those seem like idyllic times, now, but of course they weren’t.  But they were easier.  They were easier.

The Path Forward

"Jun25" - Carraher 2019

Jun25
2019.  Acrylic and paper on panel, 14 x 11 in.

A favorite collage from last year.  It’s on a heavy wood panel and feels very stable and solid to me.  I guess I wanted that today.   The black and colored papers are from my cherished stash of ancient construction paper that I’ve had for many years.  The white/ecru bits are cartridge and typing papers, and there’s a slice of silver tissue paper, as well.

The design of the painted background is borrowed directly from a pastel I did at least 20 years ago that got damaged, but I’ve always liked the combination of colors and shapes.  So it showed up again here, in acrylic.

I love this piece.  It feels so stable and strong, I almost think I could stand on it.  A stepping stone into a better future.

bell poems

 

"Bell Poem No. 7" - Carraherr 2020

Bell Poem No. 7
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 10 in.

So yes:  “bell poems”.  When I started creating these canvases a couple months ago I wasn’t sure where they were going, and I’m still not, but the thought of them as bell poems has persisted.  So now they have titles. 

What do they have in common?  They all start as big calligraphic gestures in black on white.  Some then gain another color, and maybe some more white or black.  All on 10 x 20-inch canvases – some horizontal, some vertical.  This was the first: 

"Bell Poem No. 1 (Headlong)" - Carraher 2020

Bell Poem No. 1 (Headlong)
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 20 in. 

The Charioteer

"The Charioteer" - Carraher 2019The Charioteer
2019.  Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

An improvisation from 2019.  Reminding us to hold fast to our empowerment and to our hope.  To not let chaos overwhelm us but to push forward with our shared strength and the strength of our ancestors.   Stay strong, stay steady, my friends.