June 2024: An old friend

June 2024: An old friend

One reason to keep making art is the sweet moment of coming back to something you made years ago, and picking the conversation right back up. It's a way of reconnecting with yourself over time, of noticing what has changed and what hasn't, which questions have resolved and which ones have opened up.

June is that time for me. Every year I make the same three things: Abstract Pride Flags, birthday selfies, and new abstract diagrams about queerness. They have become old friends and I look forward to seeing them. I sit down with them and, even if it's been 11 months, we are right back there where we left off.

I want to show you this year's reunion with Abstract Pride Flags. I've made a lot of these over the years and want to keep things fresh and playful, so I begin, as always, with little studies. These are low-stakes, can't-go-wrong paintings where I try out ideas. This year I made the first batch while I was on the phone with my sister. We had a lot of our own catching up to do, and so for a couple of hours I told myself to just keep the brush moving even as my mind wandered. For me, it's the perfect amount of half attention that keeps my inhibitions from getting too involved.

Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make familiar, so I knew which paints to reach for this year. The classic pride flag is made of the kindergarten red/blue/yellow scheme, but since the main cultural symbology is a rainbow spectrum, I like to take some liberty. I'm using magenta, teal and yellow which make a brilliant range. I started out, as always, swatching them out.

As is my habit, when I swatch I use up the extra paint on my brush on some kind of color study. Here you can see that I am trying out the colors on their own and then making a blended rainbow below, to see how to work together.

the trade off for being half-distracted on the phone: I put my water dropper in the blue paint instead of the glass jar and didn't realize!

Next, I try out techniques. In the past I've made some flags with distinct color shapes, made by making sure one section of paint is dry before layering on another.

I'm thinking of the ones in this series that I sold years ago but have been making into stickers since. There's a bit of wet into wet bleed between the yellow and green, but in general the colors and edges are distinct.

This year I feel interested in wet-into-wet techniques. I've been playing around with this more ever since my last series. Here are some studies I still have at my desk for inspiration. I was testing out how the colors blended before I worked them out on the big scale.

I started out, letting some (pretty dirty apparently!) water soak into the canvas.