Contrasts

As I work to build up my professional grade supply of oil pastels, I can only think of my art in the past or in the potential. There is no work in progress right now. I think a lot about the work I’d like to be making while looking at my completed art. Even the endeavor of sitting down to write is filling a creative void as I wait.

This has been a year of positive and negative, black and white, contrasts walking together arm in arm. With every high there has been an accompanying low. I can only ride them, like childbirth contractions, knowing that at the end I get a baby. The joy of another pregnancy, followed by a search for pregnancy-safe art materials that is still ongoing; juggling pregnancy, motherhood, marriage, art, jobs. If I were an unconnected individual, I suppose I would have much more work to show for myself. But I wouldn’t trade this life for that one. This life has contrasts that will make my art relatable to the viewer, who is also riding the highs and lows of life. Poet Stephen Dunn once said, “It would be a lie to say I must choose between happiness and art. I can live with many things. Just to admit that I’ve been married for 35 years means that I’ve experienced joy and diminution and quiet evenings and tumultuous evenings and betrayal and dishonesty and tenderness and withholdings and forgiveness and cowardice and boredom and friendship.” Such is the life of the person who lives in community with others, all the shadings and tension and release and resolution of the daily events of living.

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Edvard Munch’s “Toward the Forest II” shows the black and white embracing, walking toward a daunting forest together. I enjoy Munch’s prints because there is so much meaning in flat graphic images, something that I attempt in my own art. I like it when much can be said with only a few layers.

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This is a photograph I took in Scotland, which may or may not ever make it into my art work. This image is not so ominous in tone as the Munch print, but I also enjoy the flat layers and the contrasts of the black and white, the living and the ancient, and the agrarian and the spiritual.

Contrast is what makes life exciting, and it is what makes graphic images speak. Up, down, in, out, black, white. Even now at 34 weeks pregnant, my baby is head up. Will he flip? I hope so. If he does, it will be a fitting end to nine months of constant reorientation.

Kathryn

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