If there's one blog I read with unfailing regularity, it's Daisy Yellow, a wonderful, rainbow-filled site absolutely bursting with sharp wit, deep thoughts, and oodles of art eye candy that both awes and inspires. This is a blog that I reread, one I check in with if I'm feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, or stuck. Tammy Garcia is the owner/operator/artist extraordinaire of Daisy Yellow; she advocates getting out of your own way and just beginning: any where, any time, any how. If you just push your experimentation and let go of expectations, you might make some fantastic discoveries about yourself and the art you make.
One recent Daisy Yellow post that really resonated with me is from late January titled "Art Journal: Echoes." In it, Tammy shows her explorations of a single motif in a wide variety of materials. It is about taking your play deeper and stretching your imagination along many tangents at once with focused intent; you could also label this "Expanding Under Limitations." Case in point: I have a studio so filled with stuff, I often feel stifled, the complete opposite of inspired. However, if I impose a limitation here and there - an image, a technique, a medium - I suddenly feel opened to the potential of all those supplies through that restricted lens.
As time passes, I find myself more and more drawn to the basic tools of the trade: drawing and painting. I also find myself wanting to follow fewer threads at a time but also seeing how far I can unravel those threads. I spent some time this weekend digging through past work, trying to find where the thread of yearbook portraits began and then tracing the evolution of that technique over the past few years. It was very helpful to take pictures of past & recent work. Next, I placed those images together so I could observe evolution and relationship. I noticed that when I started working with vintage portraits - be they from yearbooks or mugshots - my characters oozed more story, more personality, more life. I was drawing/painting from a reference photo while infusing my unique imagination into the resulting work. Although these portraits are rendered in a variety of styles, they all look like they belong to my portfolio. And even when I am just drawing completely from my imagination, my character framing, posing, and backstory is directly influenced by my familiarity and fascination with yearbook images.
Delightfully, I've realized that there is a lot more of this thread wrapped around my brain. I've started a list of ways I could explore this portrait-making impulse. I am giddy with possibilities. Of course, as you know, (if you have followed this blog for any time whatsoever) I am a pinball artist: I bounce enthusiastically for a while around a specific topic before unexpectedly careening off into a wildly different but equally exciting direction. For a little while anyway though, I can promise my attention is caught in this particular yearbook portrait loop so let's see where it takes me next, shall we?