Saturday, December 26, 2015

Reflection of Echo

Reflection of Echo

40X40 cm; ink, gold leaf and gesso on wood
Laurie Pearsall  2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Frame of reference: Love Bomb

I'm excited to get to work on a new piece called 'Love Bomb', now that I have the perfect 'frame'. I found this one in the usual way, cruising the second-hand markets.

Stay tuned to see the development!

Learn more about love bombing.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Echo at the pool

Echo at the pool

40X40 cm; ink and gesso on wood
Laurie Pearsall  2015 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Parasites / Los Bichos

Hatred and fear blind us. We no longer see each other. We only see the faces of monsters, and that gives us the courage to destroy each other.                          Thich Nhat Hanh 

The parasite series is beginning to come together.  
Above and below: 
Gold and silver leaf, ink, gesso and collage on paper. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Homage to Kafka's Metamorphosis


After reading a letter from Franz Kafka to his narcissist father here, I remembered the great impact reading his Metamorphosis  had on me when I was 17 years old. I even used it as the theme of an AP Art Studio final project. 

I have just read it again, in English this time. It's amazing how closely the idea of 'capture-bonding' links to the vermin I have been creating recently, see Los Bichos post.  Gregor is treated as the vermin, the 'problem child' of the family, and finally has evolved into the vermin, much to 'his shock and horror at being unrecognizable' (Ian Johnson translation).

Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt”.  

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

I've been toying with vermin/beetle shell effects.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Airplane Mode

I've just returned from a fantastic stay with family and friends in America. It wasn't an art-making trip, but I did find some time on the flight to play with more figurative graphics. Here you can see a few, plus some yummy supplies I acquired while there. Unfortunately, I couldn't convince the security officers to let me fly with several bottles of Looking Glass mirror spray paint. Sniff!

I'm excited to get back into the studio tomorrow to see what magic I can work with these raw materials.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dream: Chemical Changes

Burning Coal Dream of 20th June 2015:

This was an early a.m. dream. Lately most of my dreams have been colorful, lucid and a blend of references from old and new places and acquaintances, as well as glimpses of upcoming events. This dream was no different in that respect. One particular segment was so visually provocative that even my waking self was impressed and made a mental note to pay close attention as I was dreaming.

I was looking out an upper balcony down at the property to the left of me, it appeared to be a summer rental where a late night barbecue had taken place in the patio-garden out back. The time was just before dawn. By the smell and sight of some glowing red, I detected that there were still some coals burning in the outdoor grill. Then I saw that everything was quickly turning bright orange-red, like coals, including a long dining table close to the house - it was a big rectangle of ember, like some sacrificial slab. Just adjacent to the table, I noticed a man sleeping in a reclining sun chair. I hurried downstairs to warn the family, the place looked like it was about to ignite into flames, and I assumed the rest of the people were inside. 
When I approached I saw that the man was also was molten. I told him he had to get up and get out of there and evacuate the others.  He scoffed at me angrily as though to say, ‘mind your own business’. He got up and went into the house. Then I realized that after I arrived and the burning man had left, the whole scene cooled down and returned to its normal color and temperature. 

That was when the man’s mother appeared to be sitting just where he was, wearing top-to-toe beige and brown. I recognized her, but hadn’t seen her in a long time. I decided to be civil, give her a kiss on each cheek and ask how she was. She responded kindly. To distract from the awkward interlude, I started to show her an antique entertainment center that apparently used to be mine (but was kept in their house).  I was so relieved that it didn’t get destroyed by fire. I opened the tall unit to show her the vinyl record player on top, the drawers and cabinets for a mini-bar below. ‘Isn’t this cool?’ I said. Then I opened a slim drawer hidden in the bottom molding, one I hadn’t noticed before. With excitement I realized it contained the keys to the little cabinets on the top part of the unit. I handed a few keys to her, and together we started to try to fit them into their matching locks. Then I woke up.  
This is not the first dream I’ve had that includes discovering an antique container and trying to put the missing keys and pieces back together. This theme has recurred for at least 15 years in my dream records.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Frame Finds

For some reason, preparing the frames continues to precede creating the completed art works. Alas! Here you see, nestled in my garden, another good find from the Consell, Mallorca flea market today. I can't wait to start playing with it!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Getting into character: Is making art like acting?

It's difficult to stay in the so-called zone of the creative process when I have to do so many other things required for basic survival. I long for the lifestyle of the seeming throngs of creative types throughout history who did nothing but work at their craft. I'm convinced there were people they were ignoring in order to do so.

I have clear notions of a series of art pieces I want to bring to life. I've noticed that the subject matter is most poignantly available to me when I'm in a state of woe. So, when I finally get a chance for some studio time, what to do if I happen to be in a light, carefree mood? Moreover, I often can't work when in depths of despair, I'd rather wallow in self-pity or meditate until I feel better.  How does one retain the sensibilities of sorrow and struggle when you are in a reflective, recovery state? Will newfound optimism color it, and somehow make the results less effective?

I've been thinking that making art can be like acting in that before settling in to work, I need to embody the state of mind of the part of me that was inspired in the first place. I need time alone, often a day or so to get into character. I seek out images and texts that press the trigger. The levitating woman posted here is one that seems to work a lot.

Is it necessary to maintain continuity with one's state of mind in order to work on a certain theme? I suppose if the work is nothing but honest, what emerges is just what is.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Frames of reference

Above is an ink design framed by a flea-market frame 
which I gold-leafed and antiqued. I've been trying this 
ornate look out, inspired by the miniature gilt frames of 
Daguerrotype photographs.

The mottled mirror-glass of this early portrait technology
(sample upper right) is also fueling my recent experiments.

How my new work will be hung has felt very important. It's unusual for me to fixate on framing so early on in the process. 

I suppose this is because of the value of FRAMING a concept in the most broad definition of the term.

Above: image of vintage 'frame-less mirrors'
that have inspired me as well. 

To the right you see the beginning stages of getting the materials ready for these pieces: 

The top image is of laboriously cut and sanded pine wood panel which has then been gessoed and sanded at least 6 times to imitate the wonderful surface of Ampersand panels which I cannot afford!

Below that photo is a pile of goodies for hanging these frame-less works, all found in my basement of delights. It's in moments like these I know exactly why I don't like to throw anything away. My Basement is like Snoopy's doghouse.

Finally, I share a photo of a mirror hung in the cellar bathroom area of a restaurant I was in this weekend. I love the way it hangs - lurks, dauntingly over the viewer. It seems to be floating.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reflections: Los Bichos


Until further notice I will refer to these studies as Los Bichos (the bugs). Amongst other concepts, the new work is addressing parasitic relationships.  But, today I'm here to share the joy and frustration of exploring new techniques.

In the process of investigating replication and reflection, I decided to toy with mirror and muriatic acid. Dangerous, unpredictable, fun. I have a long way to go to get the effects I'm hoping for, but I didn't realize they would be so hard to photograph!

These samples are the same piece - taken at different angles! Happy Accident? It may be so.


So, I began to do it on purpose. 

Now what!?

Stay tuned...


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Recovering productivity junkie

After a long hiatus from making studio work, I've been able to manage at least about 10 hours a week over the last few months - throw a full time job and a child into the mix and that requires a lot of organization and determination. For the last ten days, extra appointments and spring cleaning kept me from working in the studio.  The detachment from the so-called zone was palpable yesterday, when I finally claimed a day to reacquaint myself with the many works in progress I have spread across the dining room table. I lamented (yet again) the loss of the glorious studio spaces I enjoyed in my last 3 homes.

I was reminded of an article by sculptor Carol Bove's self-help guide for artists on Artspace.

Bove encourages artists to have a space designated for artistic discovery,
'a non-purposive, free space in which to play and have fun...'. 

Having always balanced another job and then motherhood with the need to make art, I have often imposed a pressure on myself for product when I find time to work in the studio.  

This brings me to another key point in Bove's guide. She meditates on the fact that we refer to art - and the making of it - as 'work'. Here is an excerpt:

I started to adjust my thinking about productivity so that it was no longer valued in and of itself. It strikes me as vulgar always to have to apply a cost/benefit analysis to days lived; it’s like understanding an exchange of gifts only as barter. The work exercise made me feel as if I was awakening from one of the spells of capitalism. And there was more to it than that: I was able to begin the process of withdrawal from my culture’s ideology around the instrumentality of time, i.e. that you can use time. I think the ability to withdraw from consensus reality is one of the most important skills for an artist to learn because it helps her to recognize invisible forces.

So, at the dining table, not in a spacious studio, I just got to doing something, anything, to take all pressure off of finishing a piece of art. While exploring new methods and materials feels 'low-risk' when I've been away from the project for a while, I'm coming to accept that it's actually a requirement that enables me to slow down and allow for days in the 'studio' (or wherever my creative space happens to be), that are free of pressure.

The images I included in this post are of some experiments I did for framing some works in progress. Aluminum plumbers tape + adhesive plastic window lace + oil paint = a texture somewhere between old tooled leather and an old tin roof tile with a patina.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Relevance: Choosing symbols

There are fleeting moments when I fantasize about being satisfied painting still-lives or landscapes from observation...then I remember who I am and what drives me as an artist. I piece things together, whether it be collage, assemblage or a conglomeration of symbols, trying to find a delightfully puzzling way to tell a story - for those who can take the time to look at it long enough. 

As I embarked on my current series a few months ago, I felt a longing for RELEVANCE, more than I ever have before. I've always been a bit 'old school' in my choice of materials and exhibition venues because I want folks who may not regularly look at art to feel comfortable to check it out and have an individual response without feeling irritated that they don't 'get' it. That's the educator in me.

This time around the message was clear first, so the conundrum was...what symbols and imagery should I use? JUST START said my intuition. Adjust it as you go along and learn from the process. 

Then I read something helpful. I really dig maps and the process of mapping things out, from statistics to ocean currents. While reading Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information by Manuela Lima (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011), I was particularly impressed by the advice on starting out a new line of work. We are urged to consider the individual or universal relevance in advance and throughout the process. The greater the processing effort, the lower the relevance. 'Spare the viewer the gratuitous effort'.  Check this book out, both the imagery and the commentary on changing world behaviors are captivating.

I winced as I remembered a critique at the Boston Drawing Project years ago, when the coordinator told me not to dump everything I had to say in each piece. Ok, so I'm working on this issue in this new series. It's hard for someone with a voracious appetite for making connections.

I knew I wanted to design some tile designs. I chose black swallows for their status as migrant creatures that mate for life, and that frequented my line of sight during my first few years in Spain. You will see other shapes emerge in upcoming posts, like this one... Can you tell what it is?

The continued challenge for me is to leave well enough alone, edit and simplify the final images. I hope for an immediate visual impact followed by a slow understanding that only comes from having seen a hybrid.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Done with the decay

I had the great fortune to spend 4 days in Toulouse France over the Easter holiday. It's been a while since I have had the time to wander the streets of a new city, absorbing the new surroundings. I decided to share this shot of a friend's home wine cellar.

For the first time in many years, I realized that I had no desire to document buildings in ruins, nor collect souvenirs of the neglect to incorporate into my art work. I found myself standing next to this old fire house (shown below), next to the mortuary of l'Hôpital de la Grave, in the Saint Cyprien quarter of Toulouse.  I had a languid impulse to shimmy a brick free to take home. After all, there was no one around to scold me and I had plenty of room in my bag for a true touch of the sun-burnt brick that gave La Ville en Rose it's name... but I thought, 'nah, - leave the decay just where it is, just where it belongs.'

This is a new sentiment.

My works of art have often incorporated relics of buildings in various stages of decay. My aesthetic sensibilities are changing because I am changing. All eloquent explanations aside, my work is always biographical - whether I like it or not, whether I recognize it immediately or not.

More than once have I heard at an exhibition of my paintings that it looked as though it were a collective, not a solo show. Some called my toying with a variety of media as schizophrenic, unfocused.

Now, particularly after dedicating 10 years to one cohesive body of work, and knowing that I must make a shift in order to make honest work, I feel comfortable doing what I need to do in this moment. It's refreshing to accept that sometimes the artist knows best what muse they must follow.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


 Detail of Break-away, graphite ink, colored pencil and gold leaf on paper. 2015

Break-away, full view.

A study of black swallows detaching from tile pattern, off of the floor and into the open space.

The Dark-winged Swallows will Return

The other day I was looking for some notebook paper and came across a poem that my daughter had transcribed for her Castellano class. It's Volverán las oscuras golondrinas 
by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870). These little discoveries are what keep me on track with my work, even when I am filled with doubt.

The first two stanzas talk about the seasonal visit of these creatures, who supposedly mate for life. Spanish and English excerpts below...


  Volverán las oscuras golondrinas
en tu balcón sus nidos a colgar,
y, otra vez, con el ala a sus cristales
      jugando llamarán;

pero aquéllas que el vuelo refrenaban            
tu hermosura y mi dicha al contemplar,
aquéllas que aprendieron nuestros nombres...
      ésas... ¡no volverán!

As of yet untitled, Ink on paper. 
First approach at capturing the affects of cut-paper shapes 
layered on top of a light box, as seen in the post  Gestation period.

The dark-winged swallows will return

The dark-winged swallows will return
to hang their nests beneath your eaves,
and before your windows once again
beckon with their wings;

but those whose flight restrained
your beauty and my joy to learn,
those who came to know our names...
those...will not return!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Inkblot Graphics

I have been compelled to design my own tile motifs for this current series of work. I have been including tile designs in my work for many years. Often selecting a pattern from the apartment I was living in at a given time. This isn't hard to do in Mallorca, where beautiful hydraulic tiles are abundant.

The hand(s) you see here are derived from a 'Hand of Fatima' door knocker, common in Spain. I have been using the Golondrina, or black swallow, as well. These have featured in my work off and on since 2004. You can see the reference in these early pieces. Flying Towards Center I and II.

The replication of a single graphic into a 4-way tile design creates unique forms in the negative space, which remind me of inkblot tests, a technique used in phsychological analysis that has its origin in the Victorian period.

The inkblots tend to resemble images because of apophenia, the human tendency to see patterns in nature. My ink compositions here are of specific images, it is in the negative space where unexpected forms can emerge.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hidden Wholeness

I've continued to explore drawing the shadows, reflections, and refractions of forms. The 'golodrina' or African swallow you see here has appeared in my work before. They come to Mallorca in droves annually.

A variety of texts are supporting my experiments these days, such as...

From A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward the Undivided Life by Parker Palmer:

'Dividedness is a kind of survival instinct that helps mitigate our excruciating discomfort with uncertainty, shielding our inner lives with those protective but ultimately pernicious outer shells:

Not knowing who or what we are dealing with and feeling unsafe, we hunker down in a psychological foxhole and withhold the investment of our energy, commitment, and gifts… The perceived incongruity of inner and outer - the inauthenticity that we sense in others, or they in us - constantly undermines our morale, our relationships, and our capacity for good work.'

Source: from Brainpickings article by Maria Popova reviewing A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward the Undivided Life by Parker Palmer.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gestation period

".... all progress must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark.... and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist's life, in understanding as in creating." --- Rainer Maria Rilke 

I have spent the last 6 months, at least, experiencing a flood of images and references. Recently I've begun to play with materials and techniques to attempt to capture the discourse.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ten years later…in artwork

Reflections written on a sleepless night, late 2014.

Ten years later…in artwork.


I felt like I was drowning so I taught myself to swim, albeit against the tide. I coached myself from a bird’s eye view. I flew away from my old home, watched the roofs blow off, all the words fly out.  Then the house itself was thrown up in the air and silently split apart. 

On the ground I found myself surrounded by empty boxes, unable to contain anything because there was no sturdy structure left. The mortar gone, the sides had now fallen to the ground.  Behind they left a pleasing shape, the plan and potential for a new form that could be erected. Alas, the boxes stayed flat, empty.

I turned my attention to the massive vacant space around me. Standing in the void itself looking up at the walls that remained. ‘Melancholy and beautiful’ was how I described my obsession with facades to others. I wanted to find the evidence that there was something beautiful there before it got gutted and covered up with something glossy, flimsy and rushed - something doomed to collapse prematurely.  

I stayed for a while, too long, and became intoxicated by the rubble, the broken things, the decay. I collected the parts, sorted, filed and nurtured them all.  I felt a responsibility to put the house back together again. I did so with a patchwork of papers and words, mostly other people’s words.


In retrospect, I realize I am still trying to find the beauty in the ruin - to finish the design of a broken tile in my mind’s eye. To duplicate it. Replicate, flip, reverse until I have a pattern, a lovely structure again.  I’m looking for the peace of mind that comes with symmetry. Yet accepting that we all have to live with the split, the fact that the broken is reflected in the whole - and the contrary.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It's approaching four years to the day that I abruptly stopped maintaining this blog. I decided to commemorate International Women's Day by starting anew!

Three years ago I stopped teaching yoga and stopped making art. Life got in the way in a big way.

Last summer I renewed my commitment to my work and embarked on a new series. But before launching into a new direction after the hiatus, it felt appropriate to reflect on the work I had done since arriving to Mallorca. So I celebrated my ten year anniversary on the island with a retrospective exhibit of over 60 pieces of artwork made in the last 8 years here. 

I included photographs and sketchbooks in the show, painted 'live' and gave a gallery talk.  Sa Fàbrica gallery  in Esporles, Mallorca was the perfect place to sit and be with the art and contemplate the next steps.

There have been a some other exhibits since March 2011 that are not documented here. You can see them at my Facebook page Laurie Pearsall Artist.