Monthly Archives: November 2020

Conversation in Taormina

"Conversation in Taormina" - Carraher 2019

Conversation in Taormina
2019.  Acrylic and charcoal on canvas.  18 x 18 in.

It was a lifetime ago that I was in Taormina, ancient city of the Greeks high above the Ionian Sea, in the shadow of Mt. Etna.  Did I have a conversation there?  I’m sure I did, as I was traveling with a companion of a lifetime with whom conversation has only ever been interrupted, never ceased.  While working on this piece the title formed itself in my mind, and so it was.  Conversation in Taormina.

I ruminated literally months over whether to add a sort of warm rose patch to the upper left, which I think would have been a becoming option, but in the final analysis it would not have fit this title.  That rose.  Too pretty.  Too rococo.  It would not have fit in that conversation.

So here it stopped.  With the gold shapes and Ionian blue dreams recovered from antiquity and the smeary charcoal lines swinging like jazz.

I wish a happy birthday to my companion from Taormina.  May the art of our conversation never be done.

Mid-November

"Astral Beauties" - Carraher 2019

Astral Beauties
2019.  Acrylic on panel, 11 x 14 in.

These two paintings were completed almost exactly a year ago.  They were new in style and exciting to me.  I felt the hint of something I’d been looking for.  A lot of work was launched from this new direction. 

They both feature acrylic paint manipulated with brayer and brush, as well as china marker and ink pen.  They are both fully improvisational.  

"The Goldfish" - Carraher 2019

The Goldfish
2019.  Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

I suppose I might say something about titles.  Titles are integral for me.  If they’re wrong for the work, they just don’t stick; I will hate the painting until the title is fixed.  If the painting is in some way unsuccessful or I don’t care about it, the title will be just as unsuccessful.  Most often, except for untitled works, the name arises to my mind sometime during the process and is then stuck like glue – even occasionally shaping the work itself, in the end.  It’s the poet in me, I guess.  Words matter.  Sound matters.  Rhythm and melody matter.  

Untitled works are usually not paintings for which I cannot find a title.  They are, rather, paintings that reject further comment.  I do not wish to contextualize their reception with words.

It actually means a lot to me.  Can’t live with wrong titles. 

Happy

"Aquaria No. 3" - Carraher 2020

Aquaria No. 3
2020.  Acrylic and ink on panel. 10 x 8 in.

Things turned around in the studio yesterday morning – even before the announcement.  (After the announcement I really ceased to be able to do anything! :))) )  So I’m posting some things that invariably make me happy:  more Aquaria.  Not sure why they make me smile every time I look at them, but they do.  Small, neat, smooth, swimming in color, and intriguingly eloquent about those infinite worlds for which we neglected to make words. 

"Aquaria No. 5" - Carraher 2020

Aquaria No. 5
2020.  Acrylic and ink on panel. 10 x 8 in.

Last one:  my Pharoah-ess:

"Aquaria No. 4" - Carraher 2020

Aquaria No. 4
2020.  Acrylic and ink on panel. 10 x 8 in.

What Is Behind, What is Ahead

"What Is Behind, What Is Ahead" - Carraher 2019

What Is Behind, What Is Ahead
2019.  Acrylic and paper on canvas. 12 x 16 in.

I struggled a lot with this painting.  I felt completely lost over and over again, and abandoned it any number of times.  I kept coming back to it, convinced that at least I should be able to learn something from it.  There were several Hail Mary passes, including the white disks and the construction paper collage pieces.  And then there came a point where, suddenly, I loved it.  It expressed something I didn’t even know I felt.

That was about a year and a half ago.  I’m struggling with a similar sort of disaster in the studio right now – in fact, nothing is going quite right in there.  Pushing into new territory.  Can’t say it feels good.

Looking forward to joy returning.  Aren’t we all, right now?  When you’re deep in the struggle, joy seems so far away…

It Comes Down to This

"Bell Poem No. 10" - Carraher 2020

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

My paintings are getting simpler, simpler, simpler.  By which I mean stripped down to nothing but what I see as the only essential elements, even when that’s very few elements indeed.

I have my moments of unease about this, where I am subject to the siren song of cultural notions of what a painting ought to be.  I am of course not alone in this species of doubt; most artists at one time or another wrestle with their own variation on this question.  And if the gods are with them, they ultimately or perhaps repeatedly reject it and ride forward into the scary isolation of authentic work.

But most of the time, I just know when a work satisfies me.  And at that moment I’m done with the painting, and with the doubt.

So it comes down to this, Bell Poem No. 10, my offering on this most momentous day.

Because October Is Over

"October Hours" - Carraher 2020
October Hours

2020.  Acrylic on panel. 8 x 10 in.

Completed early last week.  Brush, brayer, incising – multiple layers on this one.  Lots of changes.

October’s been an intense month, hasn’t it?  It’s finally finished.  Now it’s November.  Good luck to us all.