Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Connie Kleinjans fine art12x12x1.5, acrylic on stretched canvas

This one was quick. I've been doing my paintings in two layers: the first puts down something, anything; the second is the dialogue, where I work with what's there to turn it into the final composition. But on this one I liked my first layer. Well, I did add the red, and beef up the gold paint (the dark yellow you see is gold). I named it Floe because it reminds me of turbulence in icy waters. (Of course, now I see a white whale in front, but that's the thing that happens with abstracts: people see shapes that remind them of things.)

I'm finding that abstract painting is challenging my internal concepts about life and happiness. I've had an unvoiced belief for years that "If only I could paint more, then I'd be happy." But in the moment, while I'm painting, I don't feel it as happiness, as in grinning like a maniac. Rather, I seem to get kind of vulnerable. It feels like I have to sustain an openness, but also keep my artistic sense tuned so I can build a painting I'm satisfied with. The inner dialogue is kind of instinctive: yes, no, yes, yes, oh no!, maybe, hmm [page pace pace], [get tea], [mix up some new color and apply it], yes, hmm, yes, no... I spend a lot of time dissatisfied, but somehow in tune with myself. I wonder if this will change over time?

So I'll reiterate my favorite quote, said by Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille:
There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.


  1. Oh Wow, your words are so powerful. They just hit home and the quote seems to explain the feelings. Connie these abstracts are like a motion. Each one being part of a much bigger movement. They stand on their own and they are all part of your (mine too) growth as an artist. The meaning of all of that is so freeing and open and a struggle. We are in constant motion. It goes beyond art as a thing we do and maybe more of who we are and what we have inside to express.

  2. Dori, I've been up for less than an hour, started my morning routine, and still found myself reading your words a few times, then reading my post and re-reading your words.

    So why create? And I don't want the brain answer! I actually don't know! But, for me, if I'm not painting, then I find myself doing visually creative *things*, be they setting up bodacious table decorations for a party, or comparing my nail polish color to an eggplant while making dinner, or seeing the purple in the tree bark while hiking.

    Painting feels truer to that urge. More pure. But not simply joyful, I'm finding. So I love that you said "meaning," since I want meaning in what I invest in. And I love the combination of "freeing and open and a struggle." Maybe the meaning makes the struggle worth it.

    I hope I can remember that when I'm in the middle of the struggle. That's when it gets tough.

    Thank you.

  3. I'm speechless. Wow! I'm so exited that I get to witness this wonderful breakthrough of yours.
    What an exhilarating departure from small representational works. Love your abstracts!

    This really feels like you. The you I remember from that night of pizza and wine at my house. You had this great sense of passion inside you wanting to burst out, but you hadn't found expression for it yet. Though you did know it was in painting. BAM! Here it is!

  4. It must be, because we keep doing it. Doesn't work to stop so I must be getting something out of it. So maybe it gives my life, my existence meaning. I have thought lately what it would mean if I did not have the time to paint after all of this. Would I be okay. I am working on a number of things. So thanks for talking these things out.

  5. Silvi, that's really interesting -- and spot on! -- about how you perceived my energy. I'm noticing that how I feel *while* painting is important, not just the outcome. Painting abstracts does indeed let me express that sense of energy. I'm also intrigued by the give-and-take as I build the composition, and sometimes even change it almost completely. It feels very right. This week, at least. :)

  6. Dori, it might be interesting to see what came out if you didn't paint for a week or two. I know that for years I got that expression in theater and a bunch of random places. You probably couldn't paint as much when you were chid-raising.

    Also, I'm seeing creativity in more places around me, from how a teacher crafts a class, to how my husband creates software. But, yeah, painting for painting's sake is different, and we'd do it even if we weren't being paid.

  7. I love the colors in your latest painting Floe. Glad I found you - I seldomly go myself to abstraction, but I love to look at it.

  8. I forgot to mention in my comment that I see your name is Dutch, I am Dutch, but took my mother's maiden name as my artist name.

  9. Wonderful description of the painting process! All the push pull, yes no of it. I've thought the same thing, "if only I could paint more," but then sometimes I find that I am battling the painting and more frustrated than ever. And yet, I still love it and couldn't imagine not painting.

    Beautiful colors in this one!

  10. Jeannette, thanks for visiting and for your kind comment. I've noticed I'm doing more dark things recently, which is strange for someone who likes Hawaiian shirts (I grew up there). And, yes, I come from Dutch stock on both sides, although I don't speak the language. And I've noticed that Kim's last name is looks Dutch, too. :)

  11. Kim, isn't it funny about battling a painting! This one wasn't a battle at all, while the last one went through layer after layer. Sometimes the battle shows and the painting looks forced, but sometimes it works. This painting life is a funny thing.

  12. Hi Connie,
    I found you on Twitter, liked your profile pic and followed you here. I like your style. I like this painting a lot. I do abstract art as well. It's nice to find someone who does similar (sort of) work that I like. :) Look forward to following your tweets & blogs...
    xo Latifah

  13. Hi Latifah. Wow, you leave a comment and suddenly I'm revisiting the whys and wherefores of painting, both in the comments on my blog and on your blog. I love that excerpt from Cay Lang that you posted! That's what's happening with me! I'll be spending some more time on your blog. Also, triplets! My my. I just have a Jack Russell Terrier.