Gone to Seed/ Sheila Ortiz

I wrote this for the West End blog about a year ago. I was not ready to share it. I am now. Two of the pieces have just been chosen for the Southern Tier Biennial 2013 show coming up September in Olean, New York.

Gone to Seed

I titled this series of paintings Gone To Seed – In the Center. During the past 5 years, I have been going through the process of losing my mom. She is gone now; she died at the end of January.  I miss her every day; and now, it is clear to me that this series emerged from my experience through this time in my life.

I am an art teacher. Every year, I teach my 7th grade students a unit on color and design. I begin by setting a context in which to learn. I stress that the process is more important than the product. I give them an art problem and objectives; and create an environment for problem solving and art making. I leave room for individual exploration. For every project, I encourage my students to get to know their subject well. I work through the same project myself, so that I can demonstrate this.

Initially, I had trouble choosing a subject. Then I found some lovely aging potatoes in my kitchen and I was drawn to their organic shapes, wrinkled skins, and knotty shoots. I was intrigued by the evidence of changing form and the process of aging. I drew them over and over again. I drew blind contour drawings. I was pleased with the pure line and the accurate rendering of the organic form. I decided to paint these small – beginning to shrivel up potatoes – all black. They were born – beautiful black potato silhouettes; and I was very pleased.

Sheila Ortiz Figures

I abstracted the idea further.  First the artwork was about the process of aging; then, I started to work more with the idea of life – from seed – the center  – back to where the seed was nourished, compost,  regeneration. I felt a sense of clarity from the organic forms. I was drawing them from the center outward.

First in tempera

Then in oil.

Painted and cut up.

Sheila Ortiz Cut Up 2 Sheila Ortiz Cut Up 1

These small pear drawings were rendered before the Gone To Seed Series.  When these were rendered I was beginning to focus on the sense of center in these little works.

Sheila Ortiz Pears

This series is not complete. I have more to explore. As I travel through this series, I am not questioning, I am allowing the work to emerge. I hesitate to edit too much.  I am beginning to see that everything is changing form. Life is a process, I love the process. In my work I like to keep that process present.


2 Responses to Gone to Seed/ Sheila Ortiz

  1. Congratulations on your acceptance, Sheila! Keep exploring and enjoy the journey…


  2. Congratulations, indeed! I am glad that you braved sharing your work with the world.

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