When it felt needed again

Below this essay is a gallery of work from 2018-19.

Current | 2020-21 | Early 2000s

I wrote a bit in another essay about my back story as a creative, which is effectively how/when I came to think of myself as an Artist with a capital “A”. *

What isn’t captured, but is hinted at, in that essay is the next chapter of my life (after exiting grad school). The short version is that I just didn’t make work, or even talk about myself as an artist to people. Whatever I had needed from Art for the prior decade, wasn’t a factor in my life, for many years.

In 2016 (I was 42) a few things happened that created new priorities for me. I was laid off from a job very unexpectedly which caused me to rethink my aspirations in that part of professional life. Our oldest child also began high school around this time and hit rock bottom in terms of mental health which required learning the language and mind-set of self-reflection required by months and months of group dialectical behavior therapy.

In the midst of all of this, I started taking pictures of cloud formations, during the day time and also at sunset, very often through the windshield of my car. This became an almost daily practice (I took several hundred images in total). In September of 2017, I began editing and filtering the images and posting them in an Instagram feed. My final post of these images at the end of the year included me writing what was effectively an artist statement, where I hinted at the importance (to me) of choice and chance. My parent’s generation would have called all of this rethinking and rekindling a mid-life crisis moment.

Around the end of this time period (early 2018) I “found” some art supplies I hadn’t given away. With the impetus to make something (no doubt spurred by the daily photos and thinking about them as, well, Art) I picked up in a similar place to where I was when I took that fateful “break” from grad school, when I first began using isometric cubes heavily in my work. Sketches lead to drawings lead, eventually, to paintings. I joined an organization in Raleigh that was for emerging artists, yearning for feedback and camaraderie. By the end of the year, our home office had become Dad’s studio.

People would often ask me during this period why I began making Art again. My answer was always that “if abstract painting matters enough to me that I want it to exist in the future, I have to invest in it by making it, talking about it, looking at it, buying it, teaching about it, and challenging it as a medium and a historical movement.”

Turning the corner, I got work into 3 shows in the Spring of 2019 (all juried). Below are some of the things (all paintings) I made over this 2 year period as I spooled up (respooled?) my practice. Some of these pieces no longer exist as they are, although a few found homes among my early supporters.

*I’ve got pages on this blog for what I see as distinct periods of similar works, for example early 2000s or the work I made during the pandemic. I also make periodic updates on my practice and capture longer, journal-like entries on works in progress that are kept for some time afterward as “recently finished“, too.

Author: sterlingsart

abstract painter living in Raleigh, NC- follow my blog to help build my mailing list!

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