Saturday, February 28, 2009

Time/Ritual/Collections Interactive Blog - Diane McGregor

Collections/Rituals - Time
Artist Diane McGregor recently responded to this Interactive Blog invitation with a very eloquent description of her studio routine and painting process. She describes her recent body of paintings as "reductive abstractions that reference nature and the landscape." Read what she wrote below:

"Your invitation to your interactive blog posts inspired me to think of my own rituals as I create one of my oil paintings. My paintings are reductive abstractions that reference Nature and the landscape.

Diane McGregor: Conferring With the Moon, Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 2009

"In the morning before I start work at the easel, I light a candle and write in my journal, including affirmations. I usually spend a lot of time beforehand looking at the painting that I am about to work on, figuring out where the painting is taking me. I will often read poetry at this time as well, finding inspiration in the words and imagery of Neruda, Rumi, Mary Oliver, and others.

My glass palette is always spotlessly clean before I begin to paint. I pour out 2 cans of oderless mineral spirits for washing the brushes. Then I squeeze out the colors from the paint tubes. I select my color palette for the painting ahead of time, and I usually stick to that palette for the entire painting.

My technique is repetitive and process oriented. Vertical and horizontal brushstrokes, applied in many layers, form a grid structure and slowly build up the abstract composition as the brushstrokes accumulate and transform the canvas. The application of the paint is methodical yet allows for chance and unplanned discoveries. Time is an element of the process, as each brushstroke represents a moment, a gesture, a connection.

As I paint, I usually always listen to the music of Hildegard of Bingen (or anything by Anonymous 4), which in itself is ritualistic and repetitive, with soaring harmonies and meditative melodies. The music mirrors the painting process in its repetition and meditative qualities. In fact, I often listen to the same piece of music over and over while working on a particular piece. The repetition of the music adds a subliminal lyric element to the imagery.

When I am finished for the day, usually around sunset, I scrape off my glass palette and clean my brushes. I have a ritual for washing my brushes too. It's kind of odd and obsessive, actually. I wash each brush exactly 3 times. I then lay them out to dry, and I always let them dry at least 24 hours. I do this every time, I don't know why.

She continues by sharing an interesting blog called Daily Routines, one worth checking out.

"It includes descriptions of all sorts of rituals and habits of writers, artists, composers, etc. Like many artists and writers, at the end of my day I enjoy a glass of wine as I reflect upon the day's work and consider the next day's direction."

You can see more of Diane's work on her blog and a peek at her very tidy studio on Pam Farrell's Interactive Studio Blog Project.


  1. thanks--a very interesting look into Diane's working day...there are many things that painters have in common, and many too that are personal and unique. What is striking about Diane's report is that everything is tied together through process, repetition, ritual--the painting itself as well as the way she organizes her physical space and emotional/mental input. Very integrated.

  2. I like Diane's work and it is fascinating to have a peek into the daily ritual of her process. I will have to check out the Daily Routines website too.


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