Last week I was invited out for a Summit Artist Residency at Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah. This was my first Artist Residence program and I was looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and pushing a little further into the unknown. Here's some thoughts I went into it with...
The act of creating art has taken up a significant amount of the waking hours in my life. Searching for a balance and a way to combine my true creative passions, interests and directions, with a way to be able to make a living, has always been THE challenge. Frustration, excitement, inspiration and self doubt are emotions that I battle with everyday in the studio. There has always been a compromise in the end. It’s rarely that I get to truly create art from pure instinct without some sort of end goal such as showing, selling or licensing my work. I believe monetary goals stifle the creative spirit, creative process and creative progress.
During my Summit Artist Residence, I will be creating 4-6 pieces of work, on cradled wood panels made from sustainably harvested forests in the Pacific Northwest.
The first goal is to create a cohesive series of nonrepresentational work inspired by the surroundings around Eden/Powder Mountain as well as ideas and inspirations I’ve never had the chance to explore. These wood panels will act as a base to the work. The completed pieces may include other materials and objects attached.
The second goal is to reach outside of my comfort zone and make art without a preconceived sketch or idea of the final product. I currently spend a lot of time sketching out ideas and compositions and usually have a pretty solid vision and colored rendering of what a piece will look like in the end. During the residency I will be working intuitively and spontaneously using nothing but the panel to start the process and guide me through to the end.
- Erik Abel, Summit Artist Residence, January 2015
Upon arrival and after being shown around, I was struck with the idea of GROWTH. Everything the Summit crew is doing and planning for seems to exude this concept. The trees and plants in the valley seemed to be thinking the same. It was unseasonably warm. I was in a t-shirt painting outside the first day and Spring was in the air. So I decided to loosely base my art for the week around plant based forms like pine trees and various others. That was it. The first 2 pieces just flowed, no sketches or scribbles. The last 2 pieces I cheated and messed around with some small thumbnail sketches. It's hard to break habit.
Here is the work I created on 4, 24"x24" wood panels, in chronological order, with some detail shots at the end:
I got to explore some different texture techniques and detail work as well as just loosen up with the brush and not worry too much about covering all my base layers., which adds some great little peeks at the foundation. It's nice to not have goals while creating a piece of art. My normal studio time is very valuable. I always feel like the time spent painting must be for a reason, like a commercial project or a piece for an upcoming gallery show. I hate wasting time. Last week made me realize that having fun without pressure and experimenting with different techniques is anything but a waste, it's definitely necessary to push my work to the next level. Even if I only come out of it with one new technique I want to use in a future painting, it's all worth it. It's a tiny door into a whole new world of exploration.
Here's some more shots of these in the making:
One thing I was really pumped about, was to see what my buddy and fellow artist, Griffin Loop would be able to come up with. (He just finished a 60 foot long, all steal paper airplane sculpture as well as has sculptures hanging in the center of Wynwood Walls in Miami... check out his Instagram @griffinloop) We ended up raiding a nearby barn and finding some old wood and rusted corrugated sheet metal and here's what we made... and 8ft tall metal framed beast:
Ideas hashed, boundaries pushed, visions materialized... this was a fun and challenging creation. The eyes have been peeled back a bit and I want to make more. Hats off to Mr. Loop.
Thanks to the Summit crew for taking me in for the week. You folks have a great thing going. So much passion, inspiration and good vibes... and insanely delicious food!! Special thanks to Marshall B. for documenting the week (most of these pics are from him) and all the support thoughout. I am grateful. Cheers.