Category Archives: here now

The Furies

"The Furies" - Carraher 2020

The Furies
December 2020.  Acrylic on canvas. 12 x 16 in.

My mother, near the end of her life, was endowed by her illness with a truly awesome power of fury – a fury of which there had been little indication during her prior 90 years, and whose aura extended exponentially beyond her tiny frame.  At that time she was truly fearsome to those around her, no matter how young or how strong.

My own fury at the ongoing losses and injuries caused by a malevolent and incompetent Administration does not have near the power hers had to affect anything except myself, I fear.  But it does affect me, corrosively.

The Furies do not come to rest without leaving damage; it’s their job.  And they are loose in the world now.

A Year

"Untitled (12 20)" - Carraher 2020

Untitled (12 20)
December 2020.  Acrylic on canvas. 16 x 12 in.

I’ve starting painting over old paintings.  Not that they can be all that old, as I’ve only been working with paints (as opposed to pastels) for a couple years now.  But this past year – this strange year of time and solitude amid chaos and loss – has allowed me to paint, and paint, and paint, and make mistakes and learn lessons and create a lot of…well, bad work.  And now, especially after this year, I’m running out of room for it.

All of that time to paint has also moved me far and fast in the direction I apparently was always headed – a direction I think the new work above illustrates well.  I’d reached the end of possibilities with a canvas I’d beat to death, so I painted it over with titanium white although not thoroughly.  I allowed it to remain patchy, with the surface and color uneven.  The result was deeply inspiring to me, and I was immediately satisfied with this gesture in black. It feels quite different than the black gestures on plain untextured white canvases that I have been making these last few months (see here and here and here), with more dimension, a depth and a richness.

And this direction, long coming but this year accelerated, is clearly deeper and deeper into abstraction – yes, and expressive abstraction, that much reviled classic American style.  It is exciting to me, I celebrate it, and I celebrate this cursed year because, through it all, I’ve arrived at this.

I have so much to say on this – on all of it.  I had planned to include quite a bit more in this post – about this past year, and Time, and space.  So much percolating in my brain, almost painfully.  And perhaps those thoughts will show up in future posts.  But maybe not; I’ve lost the patience to write.  After all, I’m painting, not writing.  That’s the point.

Happy New Year.  We made it.

Weight

Paintings in studio 12 19 2020

I will sometimes put several paintings up on the wall together in the studio to see if any of them stand out as unable to measure up to the group.  Comparing their…weights, shall we say.  Almost one could say their cosmic weights, as when Anubis places the heart of the deceased on the scale against Ma’at’s Feather of Truth.  Although the heart that is heavier than the feather is condemned and devoured, what I’m looking  to see is if any of the paintings stands out for its lightness, its lack of substance or gravity.  Or maybe truth is actually the word I’m looking for.  Even though I might be uncertain about a single work, it’s funny how easy it is for me to see what’s lacking when viewed in a group.    

In the above snapshot of the studio wall, all of the paintings, for me, can hold their own against one another.  Even the magenta.  These are quite new, and I’m pleased with them.  That’s Joyce in the Bardo on the right.  And a little bit of sunlight in the lower left corner. 

Joyce in the Bardo

"Joyce in the bardo" - Carraher 2020

Joyce in the bardo
December 2020.  Acrylic on canvas. 18 x 14 in.

My mother is dying, on hospice now at home.  She was in the hospital for eight days, the first four in the ER because there were no beds available.  Because of the covid surge no visitors were allowed, and because of her condition it was almost impossible to reach her by phone or to know if she understood where she was, or why.

Now at least she is home, with those whom she knows and who care for her.  But how much of that she understands I don’t know, as she is in another bardo now, a twilit limbo of morphine.

Or perhaps it is me that is in the bardo.  I couldn’t reach her in the hospital; I can’t reach her now.  I can’t know what she wants, or feels, or needs.  I can’t know if she understands what is happening to her.

Or maybe it is all of us that are there, trapped by covid, incompetence, and craziness in a limbo life of no real contact and of dimmed connection, where true knowledge of one another cannot happen and action is not possible or means nothing.

I do not know if my mother has the will or desire to press past this state.  I know I do.  Our nation, despite nearly 300,000 dead, seems determined to remain in it.

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.

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.

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.