Thursday, January 05, 2012

Playing in the Gap

For a while I thought my realistic images were my real paintings, and that the time I spent playing between them was a waste. The gaps between are filled with uncertainty. There are no maps— just vast possibilities as far as the eye can see.

I call these paintings the In-Betweens because I work on them between my realistically rendered paintings. The In-Betweens are a reprieve from the intense concentration necessary for realistic artwork. They are a breather, a break from normal. They fill that period of time between completing a realistic painting and beginning a new one. In-Betweens are an exhale. I just let go. I paint with no preconceptions. They are a dream world where colors are emotions, smells, tastes and sounds. The colors define shapes and create a rhythmic composition. To simply follow the colors and shapes with complete abandon is the greatest fun of all. It's satisfying to be lead around the picture plane that way after exhausting myself on a realistic piece that requires precision and unwavering attention to detail.

The In-Betweens are a total change of pace and method. I begin with an old painting (you know— one from the “I wrecked it, I quit pile!”) and scrub off most of the old paint. I like the paper to show a hint of whatever image was there before. Then with pencil I draw a pattern of skewed shapes and creatures. The real fun is glazing one color over another to create patterns and rhythms dancing around the page. Every new layer changes the composition. As layers deepen and colors become richer, the picture plane develops depth and a surreal landscape appears.

If you think about it, we are always in-between. We're between waking and sleeping, birth and death, between this thought and the next. And what of the gap between each breath? There is the space between you and me that we call relationships. While seeming empty, those spaces between are alive with potential. Inevitably we fill them up with the expectations and desires that create our world. When you meet that vibrant potential, how and what do you choose to fill it?


  1. Beautiful Kris! Such wonderful clarity from the "in-betweens" :) I love your description of the "In-Between", liminal spaces... And such lovely whimsical paintings have emerged to tickle the senses!

    Habitually I have tried to fill those spaces with "doings", and of course they tend to get filled with thoughts, but now I am becoming more conscious and aware of those in-between spaces, especially the larger ones, like waking in the morning, and at twilight, and before sleep, and just try to be in them, basking in the beautiful energy...

    Thanks for this wonderful post!

  2. Thank you Christine. It's interesting how noticing those in-betweens, those ungraspable spaces, that stillness, I find myself energized to be more active in the world with "doings"! Crazy! Isn't it?! :-)

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  4. Kris ~ No not crazy :) I am finding these "twilight walks" in the "in-betweens" enlivening. There is an enlivened "doing" energy, but I notice a different kind of doing. Not as a means of avoidance or restlessness to fill those spaces, but an energized sense of creative "doing" as I think you are saying, from a more authentic place; a clearer place.

    Happy "doings." :)

  5. Sometimes it seems the more I "notice" the less clear I feel. And when that creative energy comes, I find no confidence has arrived with it. But at least there's joyfulness to keep going! I'm continually amazed at how deep the sticky goo of my life is. Ha!

  6. It seems like these "in between" pieces serve to prevent you from becoming "burnt out." When art becomes work it can be easy to reach a point where you no longer enjoy it. You deliberately create a space where there is no pressure and you can create art just for the pleasure of creating art.

  7. "When art becomes work it can be easy to reach a point where you no longer enjoy it." Yes, I'm taking a look at that. Art is my career, my full time "job"— so it is work. And I'm questioning a lot right now... Thanks for your astute comment, spldbch!

  8. I love your exploration of the in betweens. they are the spaces really, aren't they. it's like negative space as opposed to the form. it is just as much a place where things are happening but somehow in our western minds we have identified it as not worthy of our attention.

    I love that the in between is calling to you and might end up being a deeper place for your art than the representational work? and how would you know it if you were not listening deeply. It is interesting how the unexpected is always just around the corner. I love how you describe that these are the works that energize you.

    lovely rich post filled with so much that is worthy of our examination and attention in this space in between birth and death.