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A friend of mine on Instagram recently asked me about my art rituals. The things I do to get into the frame of mind to work. I decided to write a blog post about it, since it couldn’t easily be put into a list. And being obsessive compulsive, I had to get it right.

Working at a studio 45 minutes from my home (although I have a second studio in my basement- another story-another set of rituals) I live in a culturally different place from the tattoo/piercing and cannabis servicing places – the little section of town where my “in town” studio is located. This space is in an old school house, built in the very early 1900s. I have an entire classroom to myself. I have painted the floors white to match the walls.

To get to my studio, I switch my thinking over to work. I take the backroads, never the freeway. When I get there, I open the door, take the dehumidifier down the hall to empty it, since I have no running water, turn off the fume eliminator, and take my jewelry off. I place rings around my watchband, fasten it and put bracelets in a formica tan/brown patchwork salad bowl on my long table. This is the table where I sit to contemplate the work I am doing at the time. The work is always about 15 feet in front of the table, on an easel. There is a row of waist high big tables beside the easel, upon which I put the paints, glass palette for working in oil paint, many containers of acrylic paints, assorted meat trays and yogurt containers for mixing the acrylic paints with plastic spoons. There are mediums and brushes and a huge plastic bucket for water, which I keep on the floor. I have to go down the hall to fill this, if I am working in water based paints that day. I always stand to paint. I never use a stool or table.

I believe that I am a channel for the work I do. I believe it does not come from me, but from something outside myself. Therefore, to achieve entry into this parallel universe, I put on some music made by someone who also believes a “zone” has to be reached in order to do good work. The music has to be loud.

Then I start mixing. I start painting. Moving back and forth to and away from the canvas. Pausing, usually, only for a lunch I have made and placed in the refrigerator next to the microwave. Always with a Diet Coke. Sometimes I will sit at the long table and spend time looking. Sometimes I can look for an hour. Sometimes, I get up suddenly and paint a piece of paper and place it temporarily over an area in the painting, before I commit to painting that color on the canvas. Most of the time, I glue the magazine pieces on the canvas as if they are paint, sometimes painting over them, sometimes leaving them alone. Squeegy-ing the glue out from under the magazine paper with a small triangle. And wiping the remainder off with a baby wipe.

After cleaning up, (down the hall), I turn out the lights and start the long drive home. I usually am very tired, and for a while, there was a specific intersection in Atlanta where I routinely had an anxiety attack. For many years, I avoided this intersection by going miles out of my way. Or stopping to ground myself in some store for re-entry into the “real” world. Now that intersection has no power over me. I think, though, it should have a sign that says, “End of Right Brain Thinking…You Are Now Entering The Suburbs. Be Sure To Get Yourself Together. NOW.”

Copyright 2017 Hollis Hildebrand-Mills All Rights Reserved

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Last Friday, I began a collaboration with Grady Haugerud, doing “mixed media” artwork on canvas. Atlanta’s influential, prominent artist, after living and working in New York for a few years, Grady works on his art in Panama now. When he lived in Atlanta, he and I travelled in the same art circles. We knew the same people, artist retreats, galleries and stories. At one time, he collaborated with another painter friend of mine and the results were amazing.

I had never met Grady Haugerud. After he moved to Panama, I gradually got to know him on social media, mainly on Facebook. We would post photos of our paintings and he liked my work; I liked his. We obviously shared the same aesthetic. As well as heritage. He’s half Norwegian and I am close to half.

Anyway, back to last Friday. We met each other for the first time. And for a few days, we worked on the above painting together. It is called “Multiple Gorillas,” oil, acrylic, collage, charcoal, China marker, graphite, pastel and sharpie on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2016.

All Rights Reserved,   Hollis Hildebrand-Mills/Grady Haugerud,  Copyright 2016  

IMG_6693.JPGOff and and running with my new painting series! It’s a series about memories of my clothes. I remember events in my life and the clothes I was wearing at the time. Doesn’t have to be a special occasion. It’s just a little filing system I have going on. Mention a time we were together or a place I visited and I know exactly what I was wearing.

I have finished the first painting. I was humbled and honored when, once again, Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine “liked” the painting on Instagram. I was thrilled! He has 160K followers! How could it be possible he really liked my painting? I continue to marvel at that thought.

Above is the first painting. It is 26″ x 36″. Acrylic, oil, paper, sharpie and charcoal on canvas.

A dear blogger friend of mine believes that every work of art needs to have a title. She is not the only one. A lot of people believe this is necessary to guide the viewer into the work. For years, I was vehemently against this, spewing on and on about how visual art is a visual thing and a title would be contrary to the experience, etc. But recently I had a change of heart. I thought, if I make up my titles at the computer when I am about to send my jpegs off to a juried exhibition or grant application, why not have a little fun with it? Not just “Yellow Flower” (as I am scrounging around in my brain for some written connection to what I am looking at on the computer screen.) I am making up the title anyway.

This first painting’s title is, “Dress Me, I’m Your Mannequin.” I got a smile at the computer! And maybe the viewer can see the abstraction with thoughts of hangers and clothing in mind.

 

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First off, I am very pleased I chose to exhibit THE CROSS SERIES. I think it was my best show. The nine pieces fit nicely in the gallery. The horizontal cross bars of the crosses lined up at the same level, to enable the eye to transition the corners of the space smoothly. I hung the paintings low, so as to illustrate the direct correlation between the viewer and the vertical section in each piece. I think it worked!

I enjoyed the feedback. Although I was only present for half the time during the run of the show, and I missed a very important members meeting, where I would have received direct feedback, the word of mouth was wonderful! Stefany Benson, the gallery director told me that she would overhear pieces of conversation, indicating only positive reactions.

One significant reaction was from one of two of the most important art critics in New York: Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine. He “liked” two of my posts on Instagram. I posted paintings on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, my Facebook page and on my blog here on WordPress from the show during the exhibition’s run, knowing my work would be publicized in the twenty-first century way. But I had no idea someone as important and influential would respond. When I thanked him on Instagram for “liking” my work on the two posts, he “liked” the thank you post as well, a post of a different painting from the series!

My mission with my art has always been to aim as high as I can. My ability will restrict me to the level where I am meant to settle. But the attempt to create the highest art and stick to the purist art I am capable of, is my goal. Sales? At the closing, where I was present, brokers on video chat were roaming around taking video and discussing my paintings with their clients. Who knows?

But for now, Jerry Saltz has me feeling guilty for not working on my new stuff. Pretty much all the time. Isn’t that a good feeling?

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The view of my painting, “Gabriel” from the hallway. My solo show, THE CROSS SERIES, until May 21, 2016. Closing reception 1-4PM. http://www.ceresgallery.org
http://www.hollishildebrand-mills.com

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Ceres Gallery
547 W27 Street
Suite 201
New York, NY 10001
212.947.6100
http://www.ceresgallery.org
http://www.hollishildebrand-mills.com

My exhibition in the Chelsea section of New York is still going on, receiving high praise. I will be returning soon for a closing reception on the last day of the show: Saturday, May 21st. I will be there from 1PM- 4PM.

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Another photograph from my solo exhibition in New York. This one includes two paintings on the right side of the gallery. Again the show is up until May 21st. If you are in the area, “The Cross Series” is at 547 W27 Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Phone: 212. 947. 6100. The hours: Tuesday -Saturday 12PM-6PM, Open until 8PM Thursday. The gallery director is Stefany Benson. If you go to my show, please introduce yourself!

www.ceresgallery.org

 

 

               Copyright     Hollis Hildebrand-Mills 2016     All Rights Reserved

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Here is my empty studio. I am now in New York and the paintings are in a vacant gallery, shade pulled over their shadow boxes, door to the space locked.

Tomorrow they will be installed on the walls of Ceres Gallery. And on Tuesday, the show opens.

I know what went into the work. I know how much I attended to the detail of organizing this exhibition. What I don’t know, is how well these works will be received by an audience.

I always paint with part fear, part courage. It’s never a neutral mechanical thing. Oh, the mixing is. I try for what is called internal logic. The colors have to relate to one another. And that’s fairly scientific. Composition has certain rules as well. But the overall letting go of the work! The turning it out into the world! The calling of it finished!

Now they are finished. I called them so. All lined up silently behind the black shade, behind the locked door. Waiting to perform. They aren’t mine anymore. I have no control.

IMG_5895This is not the first time I have associated with the shipping company, US ART. The art handling company has hauled off lots of my work to various shows, to all parts of Manhattan. Poughkeepksie, College Station, Texas and Tuscon, Arizona. The times I haven’t used their services have turned out in disaster. One of my paintings wound up at someone’s house in North Georgia, where, if I had not taped my business card to the back, I would have never seen it again. Another time, some toys were sent to me, my painting, gone.

US ART has gone a little overboard with my stuff. For good reason, I found out. Some of the drivers from the refrigerated blue eighteen wheeler wear white gloves to carry my work out. Some act very nervous, looking out the window at the truck below my studio window. Since I am in the habit of talking to everyone anyway, I discovered, while chatting up the packer, that my volcano painting was resting next to a Matisse. They take good care.

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The men in the US ART truck came last week to pack up my paintings and drive them to New York. The title of my show is “THE CROSS SERIES.” The dates are April 26-May 21, 2016. The reception for me is April 28 6-8PM, 2016.

Ceres Gallery
547 W 27th Street
Suite 201
New York, NY 10001