Chapter One: Abstract to “Coming Home in the Snow”

In the fall of 2022 I participated in studio painting sessions at Woodmere Museum of Art. The class was called Exploring Abstraction and was led by Val Rossman. If any of this information sounds familiar it is because I have done previous sessions in the studio with this group. And that’s because I like being there!

But moving on. In our first session back in the studio, Val suggested a theme for working under, if we didn’t have ongoing projects already in mind. I had not done any painting since the spring, having focused on other art forms, and so I was ready to try it.

“Multiples,” she said. “Do multiples.”

OK. It fit with my usual way of working on more than one painting at a time, so I was all set.

After all this time away, I could not settle down. So, I decided to just get out 3 canvases, 20″ x 16″, and slap down some color. Here they are.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought. Colors, bla bla. Now what? But I was ok with where I was. I knew these paintings were not going to last in these forms. They were just getting me ready to paint.

Over the next week, I worked on one of these paintings from above. I wonder if you can tell which one? and here is the painting that resulted. Now I’m happy.

“Coming Home in the Snow”, 10/22, 20″ x 16″.

Shhh! the painting I worked on is the one on the left.

28 thoughts on “Chapter One: Abstract to “Coming Home in the Snow”

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I liked the originals, but I felt no emotional attachment to them, if that makes sense. The finished painting, now, that came from my heart. It was an interesting process.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          Yes. Sometimes I wonder about that. It often seems to me that people like work that I don’t, much more than work I feel is really expressing what I wanted, so much better. When I examine particular situations where this has happened, it seems it’s either more conventional work or subject, or else something more impersonal. Well, the audience is not who I make this stuff for anymore, I remind myself. I feel I need both that emotional connection as well as what I think is good work, or I don’t like the piece.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Yes, I left some sections of the original painting in place, and the structure of the final image was suggested by how the original was set up. I work this way almost all the time. I don’t have the ability to visualize something in my mind (like most people can – the condition is called aphantasia) and so I need to work with what is actually in front of me. I never know where things are going to go and I am confident I will get somewhere, but, I don’t ever know where that will be. I love living this way.

      1. marissthequilter

        I was surprised to read about your aphantasia and also amazed and delighted, because I too have to do something in order to be able to see it. You produce such remarkable work, hence my surprise.
        There is a quotation by (apparently) E.M. Forster which goes
        ‘How do I know what I think until I see what I say?’
        I embroidered the line and put it above my desk because it rings true for me, with regard to writing, of course.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          I love that line and I have written it down. That is exactly how I have to do things. Hence, among other things, my love of pens and notebooks! I also have prosopagnosia, or face blindness. The source of many amusing moments (later, of course) and the reason for my good acting skills and investigative mind (LOL) since I am always trying to figure out: who are you? Do I know you? What about you can point me to an answer? while chatting away as if I do know them. Neither of these two conditions did I understand were not the usual human experience until fairly recently. I just thought I had a really bad memory. Now I see I have a really good one!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I like winter, mostly, and one thing I really love about it is how it emphasizes the importance of a warm home, both physically and emotionally, and how lucky I am to have this.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. It makes me think of a long time ago, early 1980’s, when there was a huge snowstorm at work and I came home on the trolley, trudged a half mile in the snow, and then came home to my little house, and my roommates and I had hot chocolate and watched the snow from inside where we were all cozy and warm.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I actually think it is easier. It keeps me from getting too immersed in one and beating it into ugly. If something isn’t going right with one, I turn to the others and let the first rest, and it always seems to help me to do this.

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