Monday's studio time is always short, as it on these Money Mondays that I deal with my financial realities (a grounding reminder that work is not purely about expression). I did what I said in yesterday's post. I went back into yesterday's drawing, erased the woman's head, and her right leg, and re-drew both. I visited the studio early this morning and found the drawing adequate. This surprised me, as looking at it in reproduction makes me feel the new woman's head is too large, but in actuality it make sense in the composition. Perhaps her torso is too small or not robust enough. In any case, it is not worth my time to give it a third stab, so this is what we get.
Today I will go back into the painting "Unexpected." The company that publishes my post cards has asked me to create four new double-sided cards, which they will produce for free. They want me to have this done this week. I want my newest painting to be on one of them. This is inducement for me to finish "Unexpected."
I mention The Terminator because yesterday I terminated my one quickie of a drawing too early. I will return to it today, but as is my promise to you, I show everything, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" ( which is another motion picture title). It is the woman's head which bothers me most. Her head does not fit with the rest of the drawing. Rather than make a futile effort to explain this well, I encourage you to return tomorrow to see my solution. I may work on her right leg too (on viewer's left). Oh well. I like the man. I did catch a cold yesterday. Perhaps that can be my excuse for this laziness.
I begin today with a Self-Portrait by the Swiss painter, Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918). I have shown you work by the Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918). Both of these artists have had tremendous impact on my art, but yesterday I felt that Hodler is more profound and is able to teach me more about myself.
I was tired yesterday. I completed the framing for the exhibit at Long River Studios, hung the exhibit, then returned home. I went back into the studio to make one tired drawing. At the end of my studio session I picked up a book on Ferdinand Hodler. It moved me greatly. I could see the similarity of approach in Hodler's work and in my most recent painting, "Unexpected" (see blog post of 1/27/2012). I do not know why Hodler is not better known. Today our culture reveres Mark Rothko, but take a look at one of Hodler's great mountain-scapes (below my work) and compare it to a Rothko abstraction (immediately below the Hodler mountain-scape). The Hodler work definitely holds its own next to the exceptionally emotional Rothko painting.
At the end of today's post I show two more works by Ferdinand Hodler. The first is his wife during her final illness. The second is another one of his great mountain-scapes.
Yesterday's drawing was another very good one. It took four or five hours to complete. The morning was spent framing, and the afternoon making this drawing. I am framing because today six of my drawings go up at Long River Studios in Lyme, New Hampshire. As is my habit, I wish to show recent work. The drawings made the last couple of days will be included in the exhibit, along with four other drawings made within the last month. I have three more drawings to frame before the exhibit goes on the wall at noon today.
Yesterday produced another four hour drawing. Recent drawings have demanded much more time from me to bring them to completion. What's going on? My ability to perceive the margin between success and failure has become more acute. This is happening everywhere in my art-making. My perception of the expressive quality of a work of art has become more subtle. The two works shown in today's post are examples of this increased subtlety.
Yep, yesterday's studio time was interrupted. It was a fine day for a trip to one of my favorite little towns, the capital of one of my favorite states: Montpelier, Vermont. Yesterday's drawing was dropped in its infancy, but I show it anyway.
Yesterday's first drawing felt like a summation drawing. It used all my recent gains. I know this because of its consuming effort, and not because I believe its quality is summative. That's a four hour drawing! The second drawing took less than a half an hour, and it came as a burst of relief after the slog that was drawing #1.
Yesterday was a Monday, and long time followers of my Blog know Mondays are low volume days. These I call Money Mondays, when I must check in on the reality of my financial world. Never joyous, but necessary. Yesterday's little effort in the studio was one drawing, thought of as a portrait. Later this week I will hang six drawings at Long River Studios in Lyme, New Hampshire. I always like to exhibit extremely current work. This causes me to reflect on my contemporaneous efforts. I am not sure yesterday's drawing is good enough to exhibit, but it is definitely under consideration. This drawing's simplicity is unusual for me.
My work went very well yesterday. I show it after a long paragraph in which I consider the state of today's art market, which is driven by the enormously wealthy (the same people who drive our global economy). Those who buy expensive art objects have their own manner of evaluating art. You be the judge. Are they as misdirected as they are in giving us our current economic turmoil? My art is a quest for expression through skillfully rendering my internal, and external, observations. My painting and drawings from yesterday demonstrate that I am getting better at doing this. Take a look at my work, then look at a couple of works by Damien Hirst, and one by David Hockney.
The January 23, 2012 issue of The New Yorker has a review of British artist Damien Hirst's 331 spot paintings by the art critique Peter Schjeldahl. Hirst's work is art because it is enticing, even though it does not require the skill I crave. Currently Damien Hirst is showing his complete "Spot Paintings" in eleven galleries around the world. It is amazing that multiple, major art galleries, want to show this work. They are not exhibited because of their quality, but because of their ability to sell and bring in major profits. To give you an idea what the art world is dealing with here, I show images of two of Hirst's works afer mine, including his iconic "Shark" and one of his spot paintings. Damien Hirst's work is selling briskly for enormous amounts of money; his damond-encrusted human skull had a price tag of fifty million pounds ($77,250,000). David Hockney, a British artist I respect and admire, is about to have an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Hockney is advertising his upcoming show with a poster which reads, "All the works were made by the artist himself, personally." This disclaimer is really about Damien Hirst's use of many assistants to make his many objects, including the spot paintings. In his review Schjedahl refers to a New Yorker cartoon from 1997 where two vultures on a bare branch argue, "Sure dead is important. But it has to taste good." Schjeldahl writes: "Deliberate deadness distinguishes Hirst's art, not only the famous pickled shark but everything he makes...." Reflecting on the reason wealthy art collectors want to own Damien Hirst's work, Schjeldahl says two things: Hirst "has recycled tropes from Marcel Duchamp, Surrealism, Francis Bacon, and numerous near-contemporaries...What may pass for meaning in the spot paintings is the sum of their associations in the history of abstraction. The more you know of that, the cleaverer the paintings might make you feel. Buying one, you hang it on your wall like a framed diploma from Smartypants U." and... "The deadness of Hirst's product lines—flipping the bird to anyone who naively craves more and better from art—upsets a lot of people. I deem their ire misdirected. Don't shoot the messenger. Hirst honestly vivifies a situation in which the power of money celebrates itself shedding all pretex of suppoting illiquid values." After Damien's Hirst's work I show one of David Hockney's paintings.
Two by Damien Hirst...
And one by David Hockney...
Right now I have little to say, but I have lots to do in the studio. This is a change that surprises me too.
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