Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Uh, this is a looong post...and it's all about an artist's statement.

Trying to figure out an artist’s statement.  Saying something about your own work that is meaningful and can capture what it is that you are trying to capture every single day that you stand before a canvas, whatever type of canvas it is that you’re working on, for any artist. This is the most troublesome piece of writing that I’ve ever had to do, that is, put together an artist statement that can explain my work to the public. And just how am I to figure that out? How do I delve into my own mind, unedited, and lay it out for you? I don’t know how to do that. Everyday I am editing what I think before it comes out of my mouth. How can I now lay it all out for you to see? I am inspired by so many things in my life. There are the good things and the bad things that inspire me. I once painted an abstract painting in my advanced painting class at LSU a few years back that was an emotional response to the tough things my son has had to endure in his education. I titled it “Beautiful Frustration”. 

On the flip side of that, I found great beauty in the every day with him in his discovery of turtles, birds, dragonflies, green lizards all in our own back yard. One of those such paintings is “Morning Discovery” which now hangs in my husband’s office. 
"Morning Discovery"
24"x24"
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Nanci Charpentier (c) 2015

His fascination also led me to paint “Wonderment” which is based on a photo I took of him when he found a large dead moth and was showing it to all of us one afternoon. I turned it into a live butterfly and then some. I love nature. I love it’s beauty. I love that I can’t figure how it all came to be here. How can we have one thing and there be so many of that one thing. Meaning, how can life have created a butterfly but, according to the North American Butterfly Association there are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies. (Yeah, I googled it.) 20,000 different kinds of butterflies. 

"Wonderment"
24" x 24"
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Nanci Charpentier (c) 2015
Do they all get along with one another, I wonder. The painting depicts a unique butterfly in the hand of my son, but all the other butterflies in the painting are monarchs, curiosity overwhelming them as it did for my son for that moth. A tree, one thing. How many different types of trees are there? Flowers, same thing. I’m fascinated. There seems to be no order but there is order. Japanese magnolias. Love this flower if you can’t tell by all the Japanese magnolia paintings I’ve done over the last couple of years. I’m still fascinated by the fact that they all look alike, you know one when you see it, but I’ve yet to paint two that are exactly alike. Isn’t that what they say about snowflakes? Doesn’t this make you want to look at them more closely? 

I don’t go outside enough. I know that. I am outside a lot. But as a child, I was outside ALL THE TIME - that is if you don’t count the time in a classroom or the hours spent in my bedroom punished or the thankless hours spent doing my chores. You’re welcome, Mom. My mother made us all go outside on weekends and summers, whether hot or cold. She would lock the door and send us out with a pitcher of water. We’d be sent to the local swimming pool for hours. We were allowed to come back inside for lunch, naps, reading time, and dinner. As I look back, I remember playing jacks with my girlfriends across the street under their carport. The carport was smooth, flat, cool, and covered as opposed to the driveway which was bumpy and hot. I can still sense it and those moments. We played with our jump ropes, double dutch when we had enough people to turn the ropes - but also, it served as a rope to tie each other up to the basketball pole when we were playing chase and our version of “cowboys and indians”. 

Some of the best times I spent with my best friend, Lisa, who I spent countless continuous days with from age 2 to 16, were spent lying on our backs in the middle of the cool clover patches in the yard staring up at the clouds passing by. What we talked about at those times was about everything and nothing. Try going in your own backyard and not worry about whether someone is watching you or not. Close out the rest of the world and then close your eyes. Look up. Can you feel the clover? Can you hear the honey bees humming, cause you know they’re there. They always are. Wait for the cars come to a stop at the stop sign right there at the corner of your front yard. Do you feel it? Do you smell it? The clover? The air? 
"Skyward"
24"x24"
Oil on Canvas
Available for Purchase through Rue Cou Cou Gallery
Nanci Charpentier (c) 2015
I painted “KatKat The Bubbles Girl” of my niece. She didn’t realize I had been taking photos of her while she was blissfully blowing bubbles while we were in the boat out on the lake. It’s moments like this that need to be held onto. 
"KatKat The Bubbles Girl"
24"x24"
Oil on Panel
SOLD
Nanci Charpentier (c) 2015
I’m on a journey with my painting. I want to capture back all of that. Problem is, there’s no logical path to doing that other than trying to do it. There’s the logical side of me that wants to paint and learn the best most efficient way to paint the best I can paint. Does that make sense? I’m always looking at other artists’ work and trying to figure out “how did they do that?” But there’s an emotional side of painting that I can’t ever seem to tap into completely. That’s the part of painting that needs the most work. I have so many feelings that I need to completely wash myself in and I don’t. I blame it on adulthood. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I base it on my own reality. My youngest brother once said to me about 10-15 years ago (I’m now 47), that I was the most responsible I had ever been in my life. I often think, damn, how did I let that happen to me. Are my daydreaming days over? Are they gone forever? Why did I stop jumping in without looking for the consequences. I let it happen. No one else did. I did it to myself. Has it all gone away from me? No, those things keep peaking in every now and then. I do just keep pushing it to the side, however, so that I can function in adulthood reality. Balance is tricky in this life. Balance between emotional daydreaming and adult responsibility. Painting - that’s where I want to put it all back together again. That’s where my paintings merge. 

Though the subject matters nature and kid portraiture don’t seem related, they are. It brings me to a place and time. Away from paying bills, checking homework, cooking dinner, watching curfew, lecturing my kids on a variety of lengthy values and morality topics such as “why you shouldn’t have headphones in your ears from the time you leave school, through the whole time you are doing your homework and taking a bath until you go to bed at night.” That is a repeat topic, by the way. Another is, “yes, it’s morning but why do you have be to such a bitch about it?” I’d rather change the focus from there to where I am in my paintings. 

The day I snapped I don’t know how many photos of Abigail for “Swag2K14”. My daughter actually was out with us so she could hold a large foam core poster board behind Abigail. I didn’t want anything else in the photo but Abigail. We did it outside, of course, because I love the natural light, and the wind was blowing a little, too. The board was probably 4 1/2 feet tall and even my tall daughter was having difficulty with it and the two of them kept cracking up at being stupid (in a good way stupid - not, oh you said the “s” word, Stupid). I loved it. They were being goofy kids and that’s what I was trying to capture. There are so many moments in their lives that they behave this way. I just don’t get to see it as much now that they’re older. I want so much more in my work. I want to immerse myself in my work. I want to reach inside my son’s poetry and put it on a piece of wooden canvas. The adult side of me says I need to write down all the things I need to do to prepare myself for when that moment happens. It will come, as it has in the past and as it does here tonight at 11:30. Letting myself go and falling in. It’s something as simple as having the right canvas ready for when the right idea comes rolling in my mind. Be Prepared. Still a Girl Scout at heart. But, it also comes this late at night when I can push those other thoughts from my head and visualize how it’s all going to come together. And when those thoughts come to you, or me, in this case, I embrace them and write them down because I don’t want to lose them. It’s imperative that I don’t. I’ll seize it and pin it down and feel these ideas. Perhaps I think too much about all of this, and perhaps I don’t think enough about it. But whatever it it, understand that the artist in me is only at the beginning of a journey. I have so much more to figure out, that I want to figure out. I want to let go of some things and hold on tightly to others. Some paintings are mediocre, some are pretty good and still others, crap. That’s just the way it goes. I want to give it up. I want to keep going. I want to sell something. I want to keep all of them. These are the kinds of things that ramble around in my head late at night. These are the thoughts that run crazily through my head when trying to figure out, what the hell am I going to put concisely into an artist’s statement? Seriously? 
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