That “Third Thing” In Between

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I recently took a vacation from all work, including painting. I camped, watched light and shadow dance on the leaves of trees, and read a very thick book to completion. All the while I felt a gnawing underbelly of pressure. 

Guilt, things I could and should be doing for life and an awareness of needing empty spaces inside to recharge. I was torn between two ways of being. Often we are caught between two things, writes Natalie Goldberg in her book, The True Secret of Writing. Pulled into a fray of right or wrong—should I do this, should I do that?—Natalie says that within a struggle, a third thing can be birthed, fueled by the extremes and fertilized into something that is unique to you and very real.

The Third Thing

I have experienced this very real phenomenon in the act of making an abstract painting. We don’t think our way to resolution, we find the space between. I’m not trying to “make“ it into anything, but I am wanting my emotions to lead the way. It’s a form of getting to the truth, our own truth.

I have found existentialist writer John Graham to be a wonderful resource in describing just those spaces in proclaiming what is art is in his manifesto from 1939 titled, Systems and Dialectics of Art.

He claims that the purpose of art is to re-establish relationship with the unconscious. He states that the “conscious mind is incapable of creating; and is only a clearing house for the powers of the unconscious and the best way to our unconscious is through our emotions.”

For me, I work with shadows, externally and internally. If I linger and not squint too hard, the shadows might come into focus or dissipate altogether.

John Graham has left me with questions. For instance, I usually talk about abstract works of art as creating movement that moves the eye just so. He makes a different statement claiming:

“A great work of art is always static. A dynamic state is the natural state of things and there is no accomplishment in falling in with eternal motion, the heroic feat is to arrest motion by stupendous effort  and to contemplate. An abstract painting is an argument drawn to a conclusion.”

Contemplation, a calm in a storm, the static within movement, all in search of our unique point of view.

Thank you for reading,

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Sunday - July 14th
One Day Only Collectors Sale- 11:00 - 5:00 pm

A variety of small and large pieces will be made available at studio prices for purchase. I will give a talk at 2:00 pm.

September 26 & 27 in Santa Fe
I am teaching The Space Between Painting and Intuition with Stacy Philips. Just a few spots left!

Wrangling Paint

While lunching recently with girlfriends and discussing the actual functionality of what we do as artists with the substance of paint, I said that I mostly push and wrestle colored liquid and have been for a very long time. I have clocked in many days in the studio ending with paint covered fingertips to elbows and splatters down to my toes.

Chaos can be messy. The birth of a personalized order out of the unknown or the luscious shadows of existence are what keep me coming back for more.

I was then asked at the lunch table if I might be interested in offering a one-time workshop in just that: the actual pushing paint presented as the techniques I have honed over time.

The maneuvering of brush over surface, layering without brush strokes, transparent veiling, lifting, blending. What might I call that? We all agreed: Wrangling Paint.

Wrangle: to round up, herd, or take charge of. Another synonym: engaging in a long dispute.

But, the definition on wrangling I found of most interest has to do with technical information.

It is called “Data Wrangling” or “Data Munging.” It’s a way of transforming and mapping data. Making “raw" data form into another format with the intent of making it more valuable for downstream purposes.

Is that not a near perfect example of what we do as artists? It’s alchemy; manipulating materials and translating it into a more valuable experience for all.

“I want to turn chaotic colors into veils of light, purify the surface, and touch my soul.”

Wrangling Paint + More

A three-day workshop July 18-20, 2019, in my large, well-lit Santa Fe Studio. Three spots left. Come join us.

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Holism—Outside the Box

Cloud, oil on panel, 24” x 39”, 2017, available for purchase at    LaurenMantecon.com

Cloud, oil on panel, 24” x 39”, 2017, available for purchase at LaurenMantecon.com

Holism: Where Parts of a Whole Are in Intimate Connection

“Outside The Box”: A metaphor to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. Often referred to as “what creatives do.”

When I was five, I had a variety of different colored tights I would wear with short dresses that my mother would sew for me. I loved my purple ones best.

While playing hard on the jungle gym during kindergarten recess one afternoon, I looked down at my right knee cap, and to my dismay, there was a perfect hole an inch in diameter.

I distinctly remember thinking, “I’m going to be in so much trouble for losing a piece of my clothing.” I then set out on the task of scouring the playground for my missing hole. I thought if I could find it, my mom might sew it back and all would be right again.

For years as an adult when recollecting that story in my head, I would cringe with embarrassment. How could I be so stupid?

I have since changed my mind. When I think of that story now, it’s with more compassion and a slight awe at a five-year-old’s innocence of perception. I want more of that.

Shifts in Perception

As a global community, we all spend more and more time in boxes. Mine happens to be approximately 6’ x 3’ in size. Lately I have asked myself, how can I possibly get the majority of my inspiration from this flat screen blasting out imagery from places like Instagram and YouTube?

The flipside of this is there is an interconnectedness that we all have now that would just not be possible without our screened-in boxes. Or if we shift, maybe—just maybe—these are our baby steps towards a greater intimacy.

Someday we will all be able to immediately communicate with anybody without a gadget or device. Perhaps we are already there and we need to remove the training wheels and believe it so, just as I know the sky is blue today.

Sensory Awareness is a Practice

I want to find the holes in unassuming places. I want to turn my technical experience into authentic emotional waves of connected inspiration. I want to think outside the box.

Sincerely,

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View my new virtual storefront of available works for purchase.

You may also visit me at my Open Studio Sale on July 14 from 1 - 6 pm, with a 2 pm art talk, where I’ll have a variety of large and small pieces available for purchase at studio prices.