I haven't posted lately because I'm in the middle of a whole bunch of experiments. I've done lots of new watercolors, some very elaborate drawings and I have started messing with some new ideas with the airbrush. The biggest experiment is this one: I'm trying to airbrush people. I almost always use animals AS people in my paintings, but I do draw people all the time, so I'm experimenting with doing it in paint. I'm liking the idea of developing a formal cast of characters that includes figures I use all the time: the badger, the Prevost's Squirrel, a pumpkin head...But adding a human in there causes problems. I stopped using human figures in the first place because they feel too specific, especially compared to an animal. A person in a painting doesn't look like a generalized actor in a play, they look like the artist, or that model the artist used, or that person. I used to make paintings of women. People always saw those characters as me, and weirdly enough they do NOT do that when I use a badger. It's not just that I want to avoid autobiography, it's more that I want to achieve a unversality- I want to verr towards the mythic rather than the specific. Using animals also allows me to make paintings that talk about gender without any sense of essentialism: a badger in a dress is always in drag, even if it's a girl badger.
Anyways, I'm trying to see if I can pull of a useable person character, and I'm working on a series of portrait studies. I'm hoping to come up with a set of faces that work as generalities somehow, but I'm running afoul of other stereotypes: I really want to use a skeleton figure, but I'm thinking I'll get accused of ripping off Day of the Dead characters. I also want to single-handedly dissociate the pumpkin head from Halloween. We'll see. I've started working on a drawing for a new large piece and I'm going to spend next week looking at art in NY with my mom and her partner Thom, who are really great artists if I do say so myself. Which I do.
Speaking of which, I went to see Shazia Sikander talk on Friday at the Fabric Workshop- she was amazing. Her work is great, she's a densely intelligent speaker, and she's unbelievably gorgeous. It's really insane.