Sunday, September 07, 2008

SPOTLIGHT on Gainor Roberts

I am obsessed with art and artists. It sounds better to say I am passionate about what I do and my interests, yet I do get quite consumed by it. In my research several years ago I was trying to find Dori K. Mandel, one very special artist and teacher who I am still seeking, but I found Gainor Roberts who also studied with Robert Brackman. Gainor and I have spent time in my studio sharing tips and inspiring one another. We stay in touch via the keyboard. Recently when I complimented her new pdf newsletter she responded how she'd been inspired by mine. Today I share her "Feeling Series" which I find so striking, and inspirational.

Robin: How has creating your "Feeling Series" impacted your art and life?
Gainor: Wow…no one has asked me that question before!!! I would say that the first impact has been thinking about each feeling and how I relate to it. I was actually in therapy for a massive creative block when my therapist asked me what my anger looked like. Since I had problems with expressing anger (he thought anger and creativity come from the same source inside us) he thought that it followed that I was blocked creatively as well. I have a different take on that but it worked for me at the time, and as I reflected on the way I felt when I was able to experience anger I saw it like a thermometer rising in a tube, and felt it directly inside my belly and rising up my esophagus and out my mouth.

Each of the Feeling Paintings started with taking each feeling and thinking about what it looked like. The thinking part has actually helped me deal with a lot of unresolved issues surrounding each of the feelings. As a very visual person it has been enormously therapeutic to “see” what my feeling looks like. The images are based on many memories, dreams, and imagery that comes to me at strange times, like in the supermarket, or in the car. The images sometimes feel as if they are “delivered” to me, which gets into a kind of weird new-agey whoohoo thing that makes me sort of uncomfortable, but I would say that there is some kind of spiritual, or perhaps mystical experience, that has allowed the imagery to flow, either to me from without or to me from within. I can not identify the source of these paintings, and sometimes the image is there, in my mind, as a complete painting, like I saw it in a museum, and my mission was to go out and find the props and get the paint on the canvas.

The next impact is putting the still life together and acquiring the props. In some cases it required borrowing things, buying things I found in stores, and searching the Internet for certain items I wanted. When I was actively working on these paintings it seemed like the right thing appeared at exactly the right moment, like the spiral staircase in the Jealousy Painting. Being in the right place at the right time has been an interesting part of these paintings. I was unable to figure out how to paint Fear until I moved into a studio that had a sliding glass door that allowed me to create the bluish light coming through the window. I could “see” the painting in my mind, but I am not an artist that likes to rely on imagination. I want to paint from life as much as possible. Obviously the landscape through the window of Fear was simulated, and painted from photographs and Corel PhotoPaint creations. As much time and effort has gone into the preparation and concept of these paintings as there was to actually paint them.

Finally, I would say that these paintings have impacted my life as a body of work that I am extremely proud of, and I know from what people have told me they have been moved by them, which is supremely wonderful for me to hear. Technically they are a monster to deal with. The size of them is overwhelming, and my method of painting is not slap-dash-paint-in-a-day. The luminous quality of oil paint relies on many layers of paint and I usually begin these paintings on a toned ground so there is an optical mix right from the start. I am perhaps overly compulsive about things like perspective and values, but for me that is what makes painting such a wonderful thing. Working out complicated perspective problems is a big challenge and working out the black niche in the Grief painting was a huge exercise which actually was solved by my computer! Working out the perspective of the black roses on the black fabric was definitely one of those painting moments when you know you have arrived!

There were supposed to be 12 paintings all together. I do not know how this got scripted as my mission in life, but it did. After the current painting, Shame, there will be 4 more: Guilt, Awe, Inspiration and Laughter.

Sometimes when I look at them I wonder how I did them, or even IF I did them. Sometimes I feel very disconnected from them, and at other times I’m the opposite. Since I have no children to be my legacy, I feel sometimes, that these paintings are my legacy.

Robin: Thank you for sharing your legacy.


Anonymous said...

I looked at the series. They are very interesting. Thank you for sharing Gainor's work on your blog.

Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson said...

Robin, I like this quote: "Sometimes when I look at them I wonder how I did them or even IF I did them. Sometimes I feel very disconnected from them, and at other times I'm the opposite..."

This is something that as an artists, I totally relate to. It is amazing how I can paint all night, go to sleep and then come in to the studio in the morning and be STUNNED by what is on the easel.

Gainor said...

I have said something similar to some non-artist friends and they look at me as if I have lost my marbles! I think you have to be an artist, and perhaps an artist for a long time before this kind of interface with your own work happens. It pleasures me that it struck a cord with you Elizabeth! I too have been STUNNED. After years of having the opposite happen to me when I looked at my work, the "oh yuck...another art failure" on the easel, the stunned effect is a rare but totally wonderful, almost spiritual experience.