Friday, February 6, 2009

"The Games of Canine and Lepus"

"The Games of Canine and Lepus"
40" x 30" oil on canvas
by Sarah Hessinger

(Detail of "The Games of Canine and Lepus")

This painting has been on quite the journey. It started out as one of my sheet series, and was leaning towards light and warm sunshine, and mundane backyard ambiance.. It was not working. I conferred with trusted colleagues, and felt it was to stiff, posed and it was not speaking to me. I am regrettably missing the photo of this painting during those beginning stages, and I fancy what X rays will find on it some years down the line...Below is my quick Photoshopped attempt to show you where it started at, for the sake of the journey and fun blogging!

(in progress)

........ I am most interested in our personal paths in life. I was out hiking and was feeling very lost in life. My husband and I were scrambling up this rather large steep rocky hill side heaving and puffing on a warm Phoenix winter day. When I turned around, the Phoenix valley lay stretched out before me for miles and miles. I could see the freeways, hear the raceway, the dim bustle of traffic and life, closer voices of fellow hikers down below me. In front of the freeways, were more residential roads and countless homes, leading in to golf courses and finally up in to the hills that I was on at that moment.

Trying to catch my breath, with my head hanging down, I noticed the little path I was on. It was a small rabbit trail, just off the main path.
I looked up for a min, holding my breath with kind of a illuminated light-bulb moment going off in my head and I started to laugh between my labored breathing. Most people are on the "highway" in their lives. Bright and busy with fellow travelers, crowded, and well mapped out with road signs telling you when your next payment is due, and your 401K coming up in the next 25 miles, and how much longer you can expect till your next promotion, so pay attention. A very well mapped out road that has been proven true. It is a safe smart path in predictable ways. ( In the below picture, you can see I decided to paint over her head and face. She had to hot of a gaze, or to direct, and would not let the viewer look away- not what I wanted.)

(in progress)

I realized that I was not even traveling on a residential side street, in my life. The kind of life where if you look closely between the unkempt bushes you can just read the address of the houses as you cruise slowly by still in your car. No, I was not even on a hikers path, such as the one down below me now at the bottom of the path with serious joggers and even more serious bikers.

(in progress)

I was traveling thru life on my own personal rabbit path, just big enough for my two feet with little room to spare. I like my rabbit path, for it was a chosen. But at the moment I realized that I had lost my rabbit trail so to speak. I resolved to become a better tracker of rabbit. ( Below, you can see where I started to incorporate transparencies throughout the sheets, and the canine figure started to be more resolved)

(in progress)

As I looked out over that huge expanse of humanity, surrounded in my semi quiet wild spot on earth, I became so very aware of myself in the "between " places of life, as my good friend Julie would say. I see myself as living the existence equal to that of the coyote or crow. Mind, you some of you might see that as not a very positive thing, being that they are both scavengers and not thought of in a very positive light in our society.. I chuckle at that still. They are both animals with a unique sense of humor, adept in the wild spaces, and thrive, despite their nature, living closely near our homes, cities, streets. That is the truest sense of what I am. "The Games of Canine and Lepus".

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Playing In Rorschach's Ink" with both hands.

Original Painting - 36 x 36 oil on canvas
"Playing in Rorschach's Ink"

I have taken my time on this painting, longer then usual, as I was having fun figuring out what it was about in its many layers. It started out as a painting to myself and for myself, as a self portrait. I had a desire to discuss with myself parts of my deeper subconscious,all to me beautiful and elusiveness. My original vision was initially attracted to the white background and skin, with the two large dark areas on either side, being the shorts, and hair, pushing in at the sides. The under painting, or initial beginnings of the painting, was done in a dark green (1) ( first color that I grabbed instinctively),

(in progress - underpainting)

and as I began to block in the background and the patterns of lights and darks that I had envisioned originally, I realized that I become enamored with the dark hands of the underpainting (2).

(in progress)

I had to, at that point, sit back and try to figure out why the dark hands were pulling me, and why I couldn't bring myself to paint over them. What they kept saying to me was paint, stains, ink, guilt, joy, child-like exuberance, a complex mixture.
Its a very giddy empowering feeling to be doing a painting completely for yourself and no other. And by that I mean that I was aware in this one that many would misread my intent and despite all of that, I would and could not change the painting to better suite the larger consciousness, but that is the nature of creating something and letting it go in to the world. As an artist, you have no control over what others will see in your work. Its a complete lesson in Willow-like existence, just flow and let them blow by with their visions and acknowledge them, but still retain to your original vision if you can see it still, after the impute of others has passed by in a blur, then resume work. (3)

(in progress)

With that I remembered Rorschach's ink blot tests,

and also some wise words from other artist friends that say we bring ourselves to the painting. That means really that we are always self analyzing ourselves whether we realize it or not. No matter what the situation, we look thru our own eyes, and see life based on what our completely individual reality and existence has been up to this point. I noticed then that the painting started to take on several meanings, and it had expanded with out me realizing it to accommodate the viewer. It is the duel meaning to this painting that I most enjoy. That this is me talking to myself and answering ( for sane or not sane), and also this is you talking to yourself and also answering yourself. With that I felt the need to change the hands from the solid ink stained hands, with a very determined and hard and sometimes dire read, to more of a splattering, which would feel right to me if I was playing and tapping my fingers in a bowl of ink. It then became its own Ink Blot test with in its own ink blot test, much to my amusement.

The only other thing I would like to note and share, is that throughout the painting of this one, I would turn it continuously, and came to settle on the above position and also in a more horizontal one (below). I love how the hair becomes a more prominent component in this composition, but stays true to what I was wanting with the original intent. The more abstract components of the composition come out more strongly in this view also.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Hum" 12" x 12" oil on canvas.

I had the pleasure of meeting McKenna a couple of months ago, as she is dating a dear dear friend of mine, Gabe. She is a very positive, and beautiful person both inside and out. I had the chance to talk and get to know her, while she agreed to be my model for me. As she was visiting us only for a couple of days, the painting is based on photo references. The painting is really about that quiet peace that she exudes, a barely percieved hum of contentment. I had changed the coloring of the walls from a warm to a cool, as I was enjoying the contrast of her warm skin, with the coolness in the walls and floor. I loved her awquard feet! Something so charming and to me added a little something differnt to such a simple pose. It reminded me of a young girl in many ways.

I had a blast starting this painting, while giving a live demo to the Paradaise Valley Art League. Such a wonderful and warm group of artists! It was such a pleasure to have been invited up there for the demo.

Life Cycles

"McKenna" - 7"x5" oil on canvas board- Sarah Hessinger

I am exploring what it is to be female thru my artwork. In some ways even when the work has nothing to do with me as the subject matter, it is autobiographical. I am moving more outward of myself recently, and have taken an interest in having other female models besides myself in my art work. The ideas of motherhood, the mysteries of it, as of yet unexperienced by me, are pulling me, and I have hopes to have the opportunity to paint a friend of mine in her late days of pregnancy. Being pregnant is something that scares me, but the actual birth process I know I would thrive in. These stages of the life cycle, and how we move thru our lives is such a beautiful and fully abundannt and fertile process. I have some very wise and dear artist friends, who reminds me gently how when they were in their early 30s the energy, and the scrambleing and differnt set of focus on career, and how their focus in their late 40s to 60s is more relaxed. I get the sense as I am figureing out even the pattern and flow of what it is to be a working artist, the flow and ebb of what they are talking about with the life cycle.

One artist that I admire extremely, is Heather Horton
Her work I found echoed what I was exploring alot in my own work. She has this beautiful way of space and silence talking quietly around her figures. If you get a chance to please check out her art work, I think you will find it beautiful and deep in meaning.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Moving forward

"Still"- oil on canvas
I am in the midst of a most amazing time in my life. For the past some 12-15 years, I have been longing for a certain kind of environment, in fact my whole self has yearned for it almost on a daily basis. Most recently, and quite unexpectantly I have had my dream set before me. My family has been given the opportunity to go live on a 100 acre horse farm, surrounded by on three sides, National forest, and managing a bed and breakfast in an old 1800s Victorian farm house. I will be surrounded by acres of land, open and wild. This is something that the art side of me longs for so strongly, that it in someways precedes my love and need of creating art. To live in this environment so fully would feed something in me that has been hungry for so long.

It is an amazing journey, in this endeavor we are all learning to have faith and to trust that it will all fall in to place the way it is supposed to. There have been so many small miracles and open doors for going there, despite the economic hardships that logically we will be faced with. The idea of those hardships, and the illogicalness of it to alot of people, are not enough against this all powerful pull that I feel towards this place. It feels right, to the core of my soul.

What a beautiful scary time to be living though, to know this is where I am supposed to be for now, and not have all of the answers figured out, and to just close my eyes and fall back in to it, knowing that there will be arms to catch me. It is an intense practice in the art of faith and being open to the abundance of life.
I am excitedly looking forward to the change in seasons, the new sites, and smells of a different earth. I will be moving from the open skies and subtle yet rich colors of the desert, to the almost claustrophobic rich and vivid landscapes of the forests.
I am excited to see where this takes my art and in what direction.
I am enjoying this small winding path I have found...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gesture drawings

These are some gesture drawings that I did in a class with at the University I attended, some years ago.

Some are longer, but most are 5 seconds - 10 seconds- 20 seconds . on large newsprint.

I found these exercises extremely useful in learning to draw, and even know accessing that state of seeing when I am creating and drawing.

One thing that my professor said while teaching us, during this extensive 6 hour long classes, was to draw these gesture drawings as if the person or object were falling out of the top of a building, and you had mere seconds to capture its essence as it fell towards earth.. It made for a very focused and very hectic, but also great drawing sessions with him. We would use whole pads of large newsprint in one day, our arms so exhausted, I found myself using both hands to draw the figure as fast as possible in the 10-20 seconds allowed. So much fun :D

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

whispering into the well

"Surface Tension"

When I try to think of the ways that I find inspiration from, I have to go to a place of wordless movements, and quiet droplets. It is an elusive connection to my deeper self that I try to bridge the gap with in my self. It is a mediation.

Music often time guides that other self,
that deeper quiet self of no words, of pure expression, and movement to the surface. Pulling it gently out of the dark depths of which I stand cautiously looking down, into the immense dark swirling waters. Music coaxes delicately that side of me, so elusive to respond and stir and make its languid way to the surface.

Staring down, listening, I catch out of the corner of my eye its forms and quiet nature moving under the dark waters.
I feel whispers and droplets of its movements and intent, sliding along my skin. I collect those drops, carry them undisturbed carefully with me, and attempt to create what it was, what I felt, and what I heard, as that elusive form once again slides quietly away in to the dark depth of my self.