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Road Trip — by Mark Barry

Mark Barry, Blind Woman's BluffAfter a nice long holiday, I am excited about getting back to painting. It's time to get back to a real schedule of art making that includes carpooling and house stuff. Picasso most certainly did not do house stuff or carpool, although he may have walked the children home if he knew the teacher was young and attractive. Matisse, no way.

I've always had a regimen to guide me. Early morning, with breaks throughout the day to attend to the things of life, and conclude in the early evening. So many ideas and possibilities for paintings have drifted from my consciousness due to responsibilities other than art making. That's not a complaint, just considering it part of the process. One of my solutions is to block time for the studio and stick to it. Another is to keep a notebook with me. I'm always finding spare parts for paintings in my travels: a gesture, a color combination, sometimes enough for a whole painting. A camera has been an important addition too, especially a digital. Take as many pictures as the memory card will allow, delete the nonessential, Photoshop and file the keepers. Digital jpegs have been a great way to send images of my paintings to collectors and galleries.

The most important rule for me is to be conscious of any opportunity, even in the car. There may never be a great carpool painting; I might be wrong, but there are many possibilities along the way. Great and not so great moments in human behavior now take place in the car: gourmet dining, neverending drama through the windshield, and the occasional immaculate conception, the drama of an accident; I believe Caravaggio could have been inspired by a multi-car pileup.

About a week ago Artnet had a post with a picture of a Fragonard painting, Blind Man's Bluff. I'm always on the lookout for imagery that will spark my painting process. The scene, a woman blindfolded but peeking slightly, in a lush, flowing environment, stepping closer to the edge of a stair, loaded with metaphor as with all of Fragonard's work. The image stayed in my mind for the following week, and I knew it held potential for me. Indeed, while driving the afternoon shift to chauffeur my daughter from school, I noticed a group of kids running across a large green lawnscape, and the last child had on a blindfold. The scene lacked the wanton lust of the Fragonard, but I know an epiphany when it kicks me, usually. I started my own version (Blind Woman's Bluff, shown here) today, and the possibilities are endless, blindfolded, tiptoeing carefully in an uncertain world, quite relevant to my current world view. OK, back to work.

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