Yesterday I had the most delightful experience. A UPS truck pulled up to my house and delivered a heavy package. It was addressed from Wyoming and I realized that it was a surprise from a wonderful student of mine.
I opened up the package to see this gorgeous catalog from the Women Of Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the Denver Art Museum!
My heart quickened as I discovered wondrously alive paintings over the pages. Wow!
My favorites were there: Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell as well as others: Lee Krasner, Jay DeFeo, Grace Hartigan, and Joan Brown.
Yet the astonishing thing was discovering artists I wasn’t previously aware of: Perle Fine (her paintings are shown above in the photograph and you can see the underlying grid substructure in her work), Mary Abbott, Emiko Nakano, Deborah Remington, Ethel Schwabacher, and many more. Of note is the artist using the professional moniker Michael West who sometimes dressed in male attire and whose name was Corinne Michelle West.
These women poured their hearts and souls into their paintings. The work is raw, visceral, and immediate. It’s alive and personal. Some of the paintings are voluptuous and lush while others are dark and penetrating. For me it’s a window into each artists life.
One of the things I noticed throughout the catalog is that there’s an underlying substructure to most of the paintings and I believe this structure acts as a counterpoint to the exuberant expressive energy.
One chapter that particularly captures my imagination is titled: “The Advantages Of Obscurity: Women Abstract Expressionists in San Francisco”. Because the art scene was nascent in San Francisco in the 1940’s and 50’s the artists were liberated to create works that were noncommercial, experimental, and utterly personal.
There’s a radical freedom in obscurity. You’re free to paint for yourself rather than constantly looking over your shoulder comparing your work with others…or continually second guessing your paintings because you fear that your audience (clients, galleries, museums, curators, critics…even yourself) won’t approve of it.
The question is: will you grab hold of this freedom and give yourself permission to paint whatever wants to come out of you? Will you allow yourself to not know what’s going to happen when you approach the canvas? Will you let yourself be surprised? Will you remain open and vulnerable?
These are some of the topics we discuss at length in The Artist’s Journey online class and in our secret Facebook group.
Most of the artists have done this and it has made for a deep and rich experience as they get to know one another over time. We just finished up our last guided The Artist’s Journey this summer and it was wondrous!
The course is there to be taken at your own pace. There are no time constraints. If you go out of town for awhile during the 4 weeks it’s no problem. You can just pick it back up when you return. You’ll have access to all materials as well as the Facebook group for a year and as I mentioned you can take the course again and again at no extra cost during that year. So there are no worries about showing up for class! You can explore the lessons in your own time and in the comfort of your home.
Let me know if you want in. The formal class begins January 9, 2017. You can check it out HERE
In the meantime, keep experimenting and exploring on your artist’s journey! If you know of someone who would love this course, please share this email with them.
Also published on Medium.