The exhibit, “Sweet”, by Elisa Contemporary Art, who represents me in nyc, is on in Bridgehampton this July- Aug. 4. Go out and see it if you are there! Here’s the article in Art Daily.
Tag Archives: PAULA BRETT
noun \ˈfe-tish also ˈfē-\
: a strong and unusual need or desire for something
: a need or desire for an object, body part, or activity for sexual excitement
: an object that is believed to have magical powers
I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that many of my mandalas and ideas for future works are somehow based in fetishes. Yes, it’s true. I agree. Part of the process for me as an artist involves a lot of thinking and considering the WHY behind the work. Sometimes it can get in the way of the actual making– often the work has a mind of it’s own and you can only see it’s meaning after it’s complete.
In regards to fetish (which is often erroneously used in only a sexual sense), the definition sheds some light on the work for me. A “strong and unusual need or desire for something”- yes. This is part of the paradox for me in using man-made objects in my work. For me, the mandalas are about bringing a spiritual aspect to consumerism, acquisition, and the constant state of wanting–more, more, more. I’ve been fascinated with “stuff” for years. How we covet it, how much we want, why we want it, and how much we produce! I have a love/hate relationship with things- many times in my life I’ve moved (I think around 25 times) and have either had to pack everything up, or sell it, or some combo. Once I actually reduced all of my belongings to 6 boxes. How freeing! But then, I accumulate again! At the same time, I love design and beautiful objects and see their wonderful purposefulness in our lives. Fetish, though, may be a bit different, I suppose. It’s a strong and unusual need or desire for something. How strong, I guess, is the question. I still think it relates somehow.
The other part of this definition I relate to my work is “an object that is believed to have magical powers”. As a little girl, I had a collection of rag dolls that were completely REAL. I’m sure many girls did this, but I kept up this belief for a bit longer than many of my friends. I called them my “kids”. They each had specific personalities and I took my little rag doll family very seriously. In fact, I still have Selina and Joy up in Nolan’s closet, despite their torn limbs and tattered faces. They still have magical powers up there, I know it! When I took my first photography class in college, I photographed a lot of objects and my professor made the comment that I portrayed these objects as if they had life. I still give meaning to some special things around my house- I mean, everything has an energy of some sort. Everything is connected an everything matters, to some extent. Doesn’t it?
Why am I blogging about this stuff? Because, why not? It’s part of the process. And I want to share it.
Tell me about your relationship to material objects. Do you covet or abhor? Or both? Does anything you own have magical powers?
Where to begin with this one? Oh, Lake of Forgiveness, how I struggled.
This painting started about 3 years ago as so many do – with the spirit of experimentation. This time I was experimenting with some new media, gels, etc.
and thought it would be fun to play with fabric collage in the underpainting. (It’s basically invisible now, but under so many layers of paint, strewn across the horizon line are some fabric violets that were the original impetus for the painting. ) How many times did I not know where in the world to take this piece? Probably a hundred, at least. I would paint, stop, look, paint some more, then stop again and look. The piece was going nowhere. So, I put it away for another time.
The painting cycled through many more overhauls until I just got sick of it and finally resolved to make something happen. So, I went to my standby- the clear landscape. I know that when I’m lost, it’s good for me to focus on something- and often that’s a horizon line- where the sky meets the earth or water. But even after I decided on the subject, we (the canvas and I) went round and round again. Sometimes paintings are just “difficult”, they don’t want to be resolved so quickly.
I can honestly say that when I titled the painting, “Lake of Forgiveness”, I still wasn’t sure if it was finished. But when my collector saw it’s most recent incarnation paired with the title, she knew she had to have it.
Lake of Forgiveness. For Tricia it means one thing. She loves it because it’s a beautiful visual reminder of how we all need to let go of whatever we hold onto, hold against, hold over, or hold far away. For me, it’s the same, really. Forgiveness is something that I struggle with daily, with others and especially with myself. Allowing myself to be more tolerant of my own humanity and a little less critical of my flaws. Allowing it to not be perfect all the time, allowing myself to make mistakes and still love myself and love those mistakes.
That canvas and I had a lot of forgiving to do of each other until I finally gave it a title and deemed it finished. The struggle was long. But that’s what a practice offers- the opportunity to struggle through something and come out the other side- with whatever the lesson holds. Painting isn’t just about making pretty pictures for me. It’s a practice that work with that continues to take me to the other side- where peace resides.
And now I hit the ball to your court: Where can you do some forgiving? And then share. Why, you ask? Because it’s courageous to share. And life is now.
Here’s my list-
I am grateful for:
1. Being a new mommy and all of the trials, tribulations and joys that come with it.
2. Living in a place where it’s like paradise in the winter.
3. Having creative talent and being able to express it in many forms.
4. My wonderful friends who are there for me whenever I need them.
5. My husband who, even though he sometimes drives me crazy, completely loves me. And I him.
6. Being able to sit and type out this list.
7. Being a stepmom to 2 boys who I get the privilege to watch grow.
8. My wonderful family and all of the characters we are.
9. Other new mom friends who share the journey with me.
10. My yoga practice and how much it helps me to relax and breathe and open to the present moment.
11. Living in a beautiful house that I had the opportunity to remodel with all of my own choices.
12. Living in a country where I have so many freedoms.
13. Having a studio where I get to play and create and dream.
14. My sweet kitty who taught me how to love animals.
15. My car- it carries lots of stuff and takes me lots of places! ( I lived without a car for 10 years and didn’t miss it, but now I need one.)
16. Having a blog and a website where I can share my art.
17. Learning about natural eating and living and how it has impacted my life.
18. Knowing that my attitude makes a huge difference in how my day goes.
19. Putting the above into practice as often as possible.
20. I’m thankful that there is such a thing as the arts- music, dance, theatre, visual, all of which make life so much better.
21. Radio shows.
22. Good TV.
23. KCRW radio
24. the internet! (remember before the internet?)
25. my awesome phone and all of the amazing technology on it- actually just technology in general.
26. Seeing beauty in everything.
27. My healthy body and mind and spirit-
28. The fact that the landscaping in our yard is pretty much done- and we did it ourselves!
29. The angels who look after me everyday.
30. Being connected to a higher power and trusting the path I am led.
Today I took photos of my painting process. I am trying to resolve some older paintings that had no idea where they were going. A horizon line always helps me to focus. So, here are some Van Gogh-esque clouds over a colorful body of water. I’ve started to literally draw right on the canvas with oil pastels after many, many layers of acrylic. The final varnish seals the oils, and I really like the effect. The pastels bring a softness, some more depth, and allow the texture of the underlayers to come through. Enjoying the process, folks. Because that’s all there is to do!
I haven’t written a blog post in a LONG while, but have recently been inspired by Sharon Britton’s wonderful writing about her paintings.
So, I’ve been back in the studio for about a month now, thanks to having a babysitter twice a week. No it wasn’t easy to leave Nolan, my 4 month old, but it’s getting easier. It’s been an interesting experience. On my first day back, I knew I needed to make sure I had a plan for my few precious hours, so why not finish that painting that I had been working on since 2009? Yes, it’s been that long. The photograph on the left is the inspiration for the painting. It was taken with my digital camera used as a pinhole. I fell in love with pinhole photography when I used to teach photography in public school, and love it still. It’s a bit much to explain, but for those of you interested in that topic, I can lead you the wiki here. Anyways, as I mentioned I had been working on this 5’x3.5′ canvas for a WHILE. It was actually the thing I was most concerned about keeping safe in the back of the U-Haul truck- precariously balanced on my heap of stuff- on my move down to Tampa from NYC two years ago.
I entered the studio and looked at the photo- and looked at the painting. I had been trying to really capture this moving wave by following the photo as closely as possible. Trying to enlarge the photo paint to over 10 times it’s size was daunting, and I knew that what I really wanted to do was capture it’s spirit of movement. So, I ditched the photo and started to dance with the paint. I got into the feeling of the swirling, whirling motion and the rolling forward of the water. The paint was flowing, the painting was happening, the dance was dancing, and then it was done.
I have to say that while I post it here on this computer, I actually like the photo more. But, the painting has a life that doesn’t seem to come through in the photo. It is different. One is paint, the other a photo in it’s own right. The painting actually has so much more depth than the photo through all of the layers of paint, and the sheer size of it makes it commanding. The work will be on exhibit locally, more details later. Regardless, it feels good to paint again.
Over the past week, I’ve been working to put together a small list of classes that I will be offering in my local Tampa Bay area. It’s been an interesting process- creating a newsletter and a press release to mail out to contacts old and new- and then hitting SEND. I’m sure for a lot of people that’s just everyday marketing, but it’s been a while since I’ve sent out a big mailing. I’ve been receiving a lot of emails from old friends saying hello who are happy to see my latest work, and quite a few “unsubscribes”, with mailchimp’s funny little note- “maybe they’re just not that into you”. The fact is that it feels good to just be putting myself out there again. I’ve been a bit hesitant to begin teaching or holding classes again after a few years off, but I am finally feeling ready. Now, we’ll see if anyone shows up! I plan to be there regardless.
Impressions of landscapes- places that are worldly- yet not of this world- color shifting and the interplay of one layer on top of another- being swept up in the moment.
For most all of today, the sky was gray. Living in Tampa, here in the Sunshine State, I can appreciate a gray day. I don’t think I could do it for very long stretches of time, though. I do feel affected by the weather- I do love the sun. But, the gray days can be an excuse to be more quiet, more introspective, and take naps. And that’s exactly what I did today.
On the walk I took, I spotted this tree abloom in yellow. It made me think of my foundations art prof- Dr. Howe at UGA- he used to read and talk to us as we painted. I always remember that he said you can see color better on a gray day. And you do. And I’m thankful for that.
What a lovely morning we all had PAINTING and PLAYING! Barbara, Arlene, and Carolene came to the studio with all of their gear this morning ready to go. We had a wonderful time discussing and experimenting with various media, and then putting them on our canvases. So much fun.
I am going to get the schedule together very soon for creating more workshops like this. I’ll let you know when!
After we all had lunch at Noho Bistro, I came back to the studio to do some more work. I’ve started several new canvases- and this is the one I used to show how I like to start my paintings.
This is it for today, folks! Much love.
These pieces are inspired by horizons. The Parallel Landscape Series is an intuitive interpretation of the many landscapes I saw and experienced while living abroad. They are a way to comprehend all that occurs simultaneously and yet exists uniquely for each of us. “Sunday” and “Double Landscape” are on display in the office of Maison International, 119 W 23rd St, Ste 801, New York City.
The viewer enters a room hung with walls of white spandex, hearing sounds of tinny voices and a floor being swept. Four internally lit columns holding masses of white doughy looking material stand between the walls. In the middle of this “maze”, two circular shaped video projections of hands are playing. Reaching toward the lens, being wrung or nervously smoothing fabric on laps, the hands videos are a rich complementary color combination of positive and negative overlays. Using my own family members who reside in three different cities, I use recorded phone messages and conversations to reveal stories of loss and personal coping mechanisms in this mysterious space. The overlapped voices and hands introduce the three personalities who share information, memories, and gestures.