Have you ever completed an impossible task? Overcome the un-overcomeable? Done the thing you didn't believe you could do? I'll bet you have. I think we all have bone dogs in our lives - a symbol of our own tenacity, resilience and determination. With perhaps a little magic, serendipity and the love, support and encouragement of others. When I think of the things I have done that I didn't believe I could do, I feel a little sparkle.
And so this piece - a dog made of bones - a talisman for the impossible. Which we know, you and I, is sometimes very possible, likely, probable and done.
About the art: beginning with a thickly gesso'd wood panel and an oil pastel sketch of a dog skeleton. Adding the requisite 80 million layers of oil paint. Coming over the entire skeleton with thick lime green paint, then scraping away, leaving deposits in the bones. Adding back the details, allowing paint thinned with Gamsol to run down the piece. Adding a light pink sky in a thin wash with a rubber brayer.
Somewhere in this odd couple of pandemic years, we began reading aloud each afternoon. A bowl of popcorn, a couple of popcorn-hungry pooches and two humans transported by words to places far, far away. The places, the stories, the juicy descriptions and words - oh the words! Words to look up, savor and roll around the tongue. Words to contemplate and share and deliciously place into sentences. Words to forget as aging brains leak a portion of what we glean every day.
And this lovely ritual contains both learning and loving - Clarke's formula for happiness.
It also leaves two artists with brains stuffed full of adventure, creatures, planets, people, conundrums and endings. It cannot help but spill over into the art.
About the art - using oil paint palettes still wet from prior pieces and inverting them over a wood panel. Sliding, scraping, blotting, moving the palette against the wood until the wet paint has transferred. Finding shapes and worlds within the paint and jumping off from that place using only rubber wedge, soft cloth, fingers and chopsticks.
At first it's difficult to draw a hare that is anything but sweetness. But now I admit to being a wee bit obsessed with the creepiness of these creatures, and find myself sneaking up on this painting after dark, just to be slightly startled and delighted. More to come along this path, I think.
Just so we don't encounter him on an actual path. :)
About the art: beginning with a wood panel gesso'd thickly and with random texture. Initial sketch in oil crayon over the gesso. Slowly layering thinned oil paint and allowing the underpainting to dry thoroughly. Applying then a thick layer of varying blues over the rabbit and dragging the paint with rubber wedge and squeegee. Allowing liquin and paint-soaked brushes to leave trails through the drying paint, then adding back a few details. Check out a process video at Instagram.com/jenjovanart
Thanks to COVID 19 (in all of its many, multiplying forms), we hike. And not just hike, but go to the places where others are unlikely to go. Over the last two-plus years, this has replaced movie theaters, restaurants, shopping, concerts, plays and all the things that used to be entertainment. Something wondrous happened inside of me because of this - a deep, intimate connection with the wildness of "out there" (wherever it may be) and a feeling of calm, peaceful ease inside my head as our feet go up and down for mile after mile of wilderness. Even when the rain falls hard upon us. Even when the brambles leave legs lacerated and stinging. Even when the way seems harder than we can do.
I try to bring this back into the regular world, where sometimes things feel too hard to handle, even though my butt is in a chair and the air conditioning is keeping me cool and nothing is pushing my heart and lungs to near bursting. Sometimes this works. But little reminders help.
We collect treasures - bone and stone and shell and feather, wood and moss and branch. There are little altars everywhere - vignettes of the wilderness. They are reminders of what matters, this connection between soul and landscape, as Oliver says, that we need. And I do love the thought that it needs us.
About the art - oil paint on black gesso over wood. A crescent moon holding our bare spirit, ready to receive treasures gathered along the way.
NUDGE-SHOVE is open through the end of August. We hope you'll explore, linger and love the experimental art we've created, and the idea of PUSHING ourselves in response to the words of Sylvia Plath and world events. Thanks for your support!
Artists!!! Interested in participating in future collaborations? Express your interest here.
We haven't solved any of the world's problems here.
But we have found a way to take the chaos of everything out there and use that energy for something else - to connect, inspire, commiserate, encourage, listen and see.
It is our sincere hope that our art and words will touch you, dear reader. We hope to hit a nerve, strike a chord, make a little splash. Maybe, if we're lucky, it will inspire other small experiments in the world - nudging and shoving until our kind multiplies (Plath).