As a performing artist, my visual art practice is a refuge: it’s a non-performative, contemplative part of my creative life. The showing of art work may be infiltrated by performativity, but the creative process itself is free of the presence of The Internal Judges and unencumbered by outcome expectations.
I have a longstanding, decade-plus acrylic-on-canvas painting practice, and although this work is also contemplative and cathartic (sometimes shown, sometime not), the technical trappings of the process don’t provide for spontaneous creation. So, a few years ago, I started playing with the fast and wily world of watercolors as a way to get unstuck, creatively. I spread small watercolor paper pads across my kitchen table and every time I walked by, I spent thirty seconds or so, creating an impulsive, playful, uncensored, abstract watercolor. Then, I’d walk away until the next one.
This practice grew over time into many, many dozens of paintings, and ultimately, into a solo watercolor installation, audio environment and performance piece, Transparent Vulnerability, at CAMIBAart in Austin in summer of 2016. For the CAMIBA exhibit I chose the “best” works from amongst the many, many dozens of works spanning two years of practice, and curator Troy Campa choose the finals. The impulsive, playful, and uncensored work, never even meant to be seen, made its way into the world, seemingly of its own volition.
The many, many dozens of watercolors in my collection— the flotsam and jetsam of Transparent Vulnerability— are unlikely to ever be shown, but they need my care and attention, nonetheless.
I’m in the midst of organizing my home studio, partly from necessity, and partly because organizing, tending to, and readying my creative space is a form of energy movement, and are ways to keep energy flowing when I’m in-between projects or when a big performance project feels too quiet. The tending-to work, however small, however few baby-steps taken, staves off— nay— wards off, creative stuck-ness. This one-grain-of-sand-into-the-bucket-at-a-time tells Creative Self I’m listening and I’m serious.
To care for my many, many dozens of watercolors is to honor and respect their energy. This tending sends a message to Creative Self that I’m deeply respectful of the work we do together. Tending-to shows that all my artistic endeavors, no matter how I may judge them or how they’re judged by others, are deserving of my respect, honor, and gratitude.
I made several trips to Texas Art Supply to acquire the right storage means for the watercolors, and I spent an afternoon devoted to looking after these Wee Bits of Me— these ephemeral, thirty second commitments; works which stretch well beyond the two years of initial experimentation at my kitchen table.
I was delighted to discover some pieces which I thought quite beautiful but I’d previously discarded as “not good” or “not good enough.” I also found “ugly,” messy, incoherent, clumsy pieces, beautiful in their stumbling, honest, unselfconscious way.
I’ve shared a few of these secret-never-seen works, below. At first I planned to label which I felt were “ugly” and which, “beautiful,” then I decided against that... you judge or suspend your judgment...