Baby Sophie and The Strange Meditation of Waiting

It has been too long since my last post; life is so abundantly full right now.  Back in early Spring my husband and I found out we were pregnant and in just a few weeks we will welcome our daughter into the world.  I am so excited and nervous.  Of course that news and the waiting and preparation for her approaching arrival had a tremendous influence on my thoughts, my feelings, my working process, and my artwork.  I participated in a few group exhibitions this year and this month I was honored to have the opportunity to show all new work as a solo exhibition at the Heritage Hall Museum, an intriguing space tucked away in the small town of Talladega, Alabama.  When people hear the word “Talladega” the first thing that comes to mind is usually car racing, but car races, I have discovered, are not the sole definition of Talladega, Alabama.  There is a growing, supportive, and increasingly vibrant arts community in and around Talladega, and its center is the Heritage Hall Museum, located at 200 South Street East.  Heather Miller is the executive director and has done an amazing job in bringing more artists and art viewers to the museum.  She is one of the most dedicated and amiable people I have ever worked with.  If you’ve never been to the Heritage Hall Museum, it is worth a drive over.  Check out their website here: http://www.heritagehallmuseum.org/.

My solo exhibition, “The Strange Meditation of Waiting,”  will be up until the beginning of November.  I hope you can make a drive over to see it.  For those of you unable to make the trip, I am posting an online exhibition here today.  Please enjoy!

Artist’s Statement:

For the past eight months I have watched my body become a vessel of sustenance and protection and I have felt my spirit growing into that of a mother. To wait on the formation of a human life, one that was knit together inside of me and one that will be in the care of my husband and myself has been the strangest and most precious experience of my life so far.   I have so many questions that will only be answered within the life of and relationship with the daughter I am waiting for, yet there is so much I have already learned from her presence.

This time of waiting has passed both slowly and quickly; this body of work is a meditation on the thoughts, feelings, and images that have made up this period of expectation. I created all of these pieces in between the revelation of my pregnancy and now. The subject matter focuses on my changing body, shifting landscapes and lines, and intimate spaces.   In this body of work I deviated from my usual oil paints and used materials that allowed me to work more quickly and fluidly. Working with materials that dried quickly allowed me to create new images almost daily, thus allowing me to meditate on the countless small moments of joy and anxiety. I started out using powdered charcoal and then began to incorporate ink, watercolor, and acrylic paint. In the pieces that do utilize oil paints, I experimented with submerging fixed layers of charcoal. In the two paintings that are purely oil, I worked in extremely slow, thin layers, putting down veils of paint in order to create a sensation of endless atmosphere and the presence of something below the surface.

These images ended up coming together as visually poetic groups and pairs; four images became a sculpture. This sculpture reveals both the outer surfaces and the backs of the drawings; it allows the viewer to see both the inside and the outside of the sculpture and it contains both nothing and everything at the same time. This is the embodiment of waiting: to expect, prepare, and yet continue to be surprised, to celebrate and to worry, and to have an inexplicable love for someone you have never seen.

This is for you, Sophie Lynn, I look forward to meeting you.

-Mom (Aynslee Moon)

 

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A Stronger Voice

For the past few weeks I have been working on a painting that I am particularly excited about.  It references a body of work that I created in 2013 (see 2013 Portfolio on my website www.aynsleemoon.com).  I enjoy working with cut paper, but I also have been longing to return to the process of oil painting, and also of observational painting.  There is something vivid and genuine, but also delicate that happens with color in my paintings when I work from direct observation.  I have been wanting to bring that back into my work, but I have been reluctant to leave behind the paper compositions I began making back in 2013.  For the last year, my big question in the studio has been “how do I bring these together?”  In this new painting, it is finally happening.

To begin, I installed a paper composition on one wall of the studio, and then proceeded to treat it as a “paper still life.”  But as I continue to work on the painting as I would a still life, looking-painting, looking-painting (a constant call and response between objects, materials, my eyes, my mind, my various emotional states, the changing light coming through the tall windows), I begin to see this “paper still life” become its own world, in its own existence on the panel.  It is becoming not “a painting of,” but rather the painting itself, with its own life.  I am excited because even before full resolution, this painting feels simultaneously abstract and representational, full of both illusion and honesty.  A stronger voice is emerging in my work, and I am looking forward to where it will lead.

Below are photographs of the paper installation, as well as a detail of the oil painting, and a studio shot of the oil painting and installation.  It is still in process, I will post an image of the painting in its resolved state  in the next few weeks.  _DSC0311 _DSC0328 _DSC0338 _DSC0346 _DSC0364 _DSC0366 _DSC0370 IMG_20141107_181839_resized IMG_20141108_170916_resized

Full Fall, Love Sweet Love, and Old Photos Rediscovered

It has been a packed Fall so far.  My husband and I traveled to Oxford, MS, my undergraduate stomping grounds, to watch the Ole Miss vs. Alabama football game, which was indeed something to see.  But the most exciting event was that my little sister got married, and although she’s only a few years younger than me, there’s a part of her that will always be my little to me: those big brown eyes, that spunk, that fantastic spontaneity, the ability to make her older and often dramatic/serious sister laugh, and that willingness to be unabashedly herself.  And then there are those grown-up things that I admire about her:  that strength and smartness, that confidence, her talent as a singer and a designer, just to name a few.  I’m so proud of her, and her husband is the luckiest man on earth.  I worried sometimes that she wouldn’t find someone who truly deserved her, but she found a really good one, and their joy is the greatest gift I could wish for her to receive.  (Sorry Molly, this may be embarrassing, and it may be cheesy, but you’re just the best, and I must express that)

Below is their wedding gift; although little sis has some artwork from me, I thought she needed one that included her man.

I also wanted to share some old pictures that were source photos for one of the best paintings I created while an art student at Ole Miss (“To the Pointe”).  While at the Ole Miss/Alabama game, Jacob noticed a memory card on the bleachers in front of us.  We asked whose it was and when no one claimed it, we put it in my camera to see if it was ours.  It was one of my memory cards that I had completely forgotten about.  Seeing the source images that I had taken back in 2008 immersed me in the memory of working on that painting and I think that the images themselves are intriguing photographs, so I wanted to share them here.  I’m also very glad Jacob saw that memory card; these lovely images could have been lost forever!

And yes, those are my feet….but they aren’t quite that graceful, or flexible these days.  _DSC0438 DSCN5232  DSCN5251TP DSCN5265DSCN5275DSCN5256TP  DSCN5234 B_K3_1242

Secret Spaces

At times I allow tendrils of worry to work their way through my mind and grow their way into my heart, where they attempt to choke out the fresh air of enjoyment.  In those moments I worry about being successful, about accomplishing, about time and worth and plans and money, about how I compare to others, about my many dreams and how there never seems enough hours in the day to do all I think and feel I need to do in order to see them unfold.

Those tendrils of worry, they really work their way in sometimes.  But then I remember.  I remember moments of reveling in beautiful places in my imagination as a child, then high school moments when I felt crushed by what seemed at the time a terribly cruel world, and those moments as a college art student when I had epiphanies about painting and what a wonderful, mysterious process it was.  In those moments painting and writing were my secret spaces.  They were the spaces in which I could empty of thought, the spaces where I could be my truest.  The materials of pencil and paint, of canvas and paper, of space and color, of light and shadow, they understand me, and I can’t explain it, but I have always innately known that I should look within and around, and respond in a particular way, in an artful way.

As an adult I forget all that sometimes and I can sense it when I do.  I get tense and distracted.  But this summer I have been trying to let painting be my secret space again, to sink into my work without worry of anyone’s expectations, even my own.  And I must tell you that I have succeeded lately.

So be encouraged, fellow worriers, continue doing that which you feel called to, find that secret space where the process is your joy.  Tell the worries to move on, you have better things to do.

 

Surgery, Old Paintings turned New, and Colorado

I am back in the studio after having to miss a week to have a septoplasty done.  It wasn’t too bad; but it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get my energy back up.  The good news is that I should no longer be plagued by consistent sinus infections and bad sinus headaches.

But enough of that.  Yesterday I spent hours painting over old works that I had kept around for far too long.  I felt that wagging those old paintings around was draining the energy of my studio space and my mental direction when trying to move forward in my current work.  I needed these paintings to become fresh surfaces where new adventures could begin.  These were paintings that I did not consider to be of a quality to show or sell and in addition I just didn’t feel any connection with them anymore.  On these paintings I put down a coat of Titanium White mixed with a hint of either a warm or a cool color.  Most of the paintings I covered completely, but in a couple I chose to keep pieces of the original imagery.  These pieces may stay if their strength of presence continues, or they may get covered over as well.  The act of painting over these old images either partially or completely did two things.  The first is that rather than erase the original image and surface of each painting, the layer of white created a “cloudy” surface that I would describe as visually soft.  The second was opening up the entire studio space, thus refreshing my excitement about moving forward in my work.  I no longer felt the presence of old work looking over my shoulder as I painted.

So if you have old work that you weren’t ever satisfied with and you’ve just kept around in the corner of your studio or in the back of a closet, try giving it a new purpose.  I am curious, however:  What do other artists do with old work?  (this includes any art form, in writing for example, what do you do with old drafts that never quite formed into something?  Or musicians, what about old scores that never became?  Do you have any success stories about something nearly given up or forgotten that got a second chance?)

One last note for today.  This painting, titled “All Approached Softly and Strangely” just got juried in to “Exploration of a Medium:  Watermedia” at the Center for the Arts Evergreen in Evergreen, Colorado.  Here is a link to their site: http://www.evergreenarts.org/about.php.  The show will run from June 27-July 25.Image

Welcome to Moonline Studio #321

April has been an exciting month for me.  School is wrapping up and although I enjoy teaching, the end of school means the beginning of additional studio time.  Which brings me to the big news; I am finally moved into one studio space, and it’s a beautiful space!  I am now in studio #321 at Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment in Huntsville, AL.  Lowe Mill is the Southeast’s largest center for the arts. Check out the website here:  www.lowemill.net.  It is a fantastic place where community events and creative ideas are brewing.

Although art can be made anywhere, I love being in a space where I can get all my materials out, get comfortable, and get into the zone.  I also love being in a space that is surrounded by other spaces filled with an array of artists with a variety of artistic pursuits.  There are photographs, paintings, sculptures, prints, music, jewelry, dresses made from ties, ceramics, puppets, cigar box guitars, and homegrown food all around me.  On Fridays there are concerts so all I have to do to hear some live local music is open my studio windows.   I am never without someone to come in and give me an opinion on something I’m working on, advice on where to buy a supply or how to use a new material, or friends to share wine and conversation with.  Oh, and last but not least, you can bring your dog so Rembrandt gets to come along and be my studio companion.  He also brings in a lot of viewers who give him extra ear rubs!  Anyway, it’s a truly wonderful place and you should definitely visit next time you’re in Huntsville.  Check out their website above for the address and public hours.

Below are a couple of photos of my studio, taken in the evening.  I named it Moonline Studio.  My husband came up with it and the name has a lot of meaning to me.  My maiden name is Moon and it is what I continue to go by as an artist.  Also, my family has a history that is very much tied to the railroad, which is made up of lines.  I am from Amory, MS, a great little town that grew up around the railroad; we have the Railroad Festival every year and in the Amory Regional Museum  is my grandfather’s hat that he wore while working on the railroad for his entire life.  My father also worked on the railroad as a young man while putting himself through college.  The other connection between the line and the moon has to do with the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  In that movie George Bailey (my father’s name is George as well), says to Mary, “You want the moon?  Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.”  My family watches that movie together every Christmas and it reminds me to appreciate all I have and to hold onto my integrity, even when it is difficult.  Lastly, the moon has always been symbolic to me as a light in the dark, something that illuminates but in a way that is soft and gentle, not harsh and blinding, and the moon reflects the light of the sun, thus the two are connected and one is vital to the other, as if an invisible line ties the two together.    So there it is, Moonline Studio.  Enjoy this sunny day and more posts to come!

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Some other recent activities…

One more post for today.  Last but not least here are some images of drawings I’ve been working on, both for myself and a demo drawing for my drawing students.  There is also an image of a new painting I am working on along with a few photos I am using for source images.  The photos are of shadows and light; I am intrigued by shadows at the moment.  They reference the figure but move in a liminal space; they move with us but are neither here nor there.

More studio images to come, hope you enjoy these new posts; I wish you all a good day!