My Chronicle as an Artist

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot

15: Leaving Chicago

The time remaining, 1982 until May of 1984, was productive for me.  I exhibited in several shows and was creating some of my best work, free from the constraints of art school.    I was happy to sell many of my 3-D figures and some paintings as well.  I had even found a terrific buyer for 4 of my very large canvases — an entrepreneur who wanted them for his new restaurant that he was about to open in Chicago.

And then tragedy hit hard.  AIDS.  It became the plague of my generation.  So many colleagues, especially those in the arts, were affected—either by developing the disease themselves, or having loved ones who did.  I lost a beloved cousin and many childhood schoolmates.

The restaurant that was to be home to my large works never opened.  They were rolled up and put in storage.  To this day I think of them as shrouds for those who did not survive to celebrate their business adventure.

I left Chicago with the memory of an image that I had created when I had first arrived there 7 years before as a youth with goals and desires.  My Nocturne in Black & White was now a visual elegy for those who had died —  hope had gone full circle to meet up with sorrow. 

  Nocturne in Black & White    ©LSAuth 1978.

Nocturne in Black & White ©LSAuth 1978.


7: Printmaking

Today, when people speak of prints, often they really mean reproductions of original art, in any medium.  But when artists make prints, each one is an original,  no matter how large the edition.  Before I started painting exclusively, I was making a body of work in the printmaking shop. Some of these were woodcuts, linocuts, etchings, & lithographs. I loved each one for its unique properties & process, but my real focus was silkscreen.  Like painting, silkscreen is a layering process of color over color, shape over shape.   At the time, it most suited my way of seeing and building an image.  Initially I made my stencils by cutting numerous marks into tracing paper, but I soon switched to a photographic stencil method—which was still tedious but much more stable and expedient. I learned so much about mark-making and building a surface in printmaking, technical issues that I carried over into my painting.  But after several years, painting stole my time...totally.

6: Patterns

It took about 2 years for Chicago to feel like home.  In this period of time I produced many small works on paper as paintings, drawings, and silkscreens.  My technical approach of layered & obsessively thin lines with small brushes and delicate tools matched the hermetic introspection I was experiencing as a newcomer.  But now my new world was expanding and I instinctively needed a larger scale and different approach.   I started cutting out paper images of fish, birds, and other natural objects, and interwove them with bits of sewing notions such as ribbons, hooks, pins etc.  I also dyed my own transparent rice papers to cut up and collage with these other objects.  These resulting works, some examples shown here from the CutOutSeries, were an important growth spurt, pushing me to try bigger brushes & larger fields of canvas,  and  oils—for the first time. 

5: Threads

I knew I wanted to create a body of work which was essentially about landscape. The pieces here are from a series called  "The Lake is Not the Ocean".   As I worked,  I imagined flying over all the places I had loved and tracked my movement with a vocabulary of marks--wavy & straight lines, verticals & horizontals, dots & dashes.  I used a paintbrush like a pencil, and the works were small & intricate.  Chicago & Virginia melded together into unique places.  Looking back on these & other works like them from this time period, I realize that my technical approach was not unlike the sewing & needlework projects  of my teen years.

2: Preparing for art school...

After leaving university, I set off for Chicago, with a conviction that I wanted to study art....How i would enter this great institution and with what means, was still rather vague.  I worked odd jobs and, for the first time in my life, rode many elevated and underground trains .  My point of view changed.  Over the next 2 years, I created a portfolio of works on paper to submit for graduate school admission.  These works started in black and white and evolved into color, and I assuaged my homesickness for the Virginian Blue Ridge by intertwining their soft  graceful curves with the pulsating city lights and linear midwest plains.

1: My beginnings,,,,,

I always loved coloring and drawing from the time I was a child, so it is no wonder I continued that love into art school and beyond.  Childhood drawings of trees, animals, houses, and people developed into more "realistic" versions of the same imagery as I honed my skills.