I can do little about it. The cycle of living energy can only be altered if I give up pushing myself in search of insight and knowledge. Up and down it goes. Yesterday I made three drawings, and I am not particularly proud of any of them. They are what they are. Simple practice drawings, made while I wait for enough energy to be gathered to push forward again.
Below my one drawing from yesterday I show the print The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (In Spanish, "El sueño de la razón produce monstruos") from Los Caprichos, a set of 80 aquatint prints created by the Spanish artist Francisco Jose de Goya in 1797 and 1798, and published as an album in 1799. I was reminded of this self-portrait by Goya because of my extreme tiredness yesterday. I could not continue in the studio, and took a long afternoon nap. This is unusual for me, and comes after a few heavy days of intense and absorbing work. This is the part of being human I find bothersome. I often try to defeat it. I desire continuous creativity, but I fail. Unfortunately I require rest between bouts of intense creativity. The problem with this cycle is its disruption of the continuity. Just when I am having success, and feel close to authenticity, I get tired and must rest. The positive part of this (I believe) is the resting produces internalization of recent insights. I do believe the sleep unleashes monsters which I have intuitively encountered in my recent creative period. These monsters move closer to the surface during the rest. The rest gathers the energy I require in order to renew my effort to bring these monsters onto paper and canvas. Yesterday's drawing, though sparse and quick, moves in this direction.
Yesterday was simple. I just worked. I continue to bring in the painting "Unexpected." I am working while waiting, expectantly, for the creation of a new, art-changing painting. My hanging in there with "Unexpected" is paying good dues. Today is not a simple work day. I have several appointments. I may not get time in the studio, so there may not be a post tomorrow.
No, we art not there yet. The new painting has not begun. I went back into the painting "Unexpected" and made it better. I wasn't ready. My intuition took over. I needed to re-tool. That's exactly what happened. I had to study again my manner of approach. This occurred in yesterday's drawing, and in my revisit to "Unexpected." I feel closer to being ready for the new painting, which I am presuming to be a breakthrough work, but I need to alter the man in "Unexpected" first. He is there begging to be integrated emotionally, atmospherically, and compositionally.
I made two drawings. I prepared a large canvas (50 X 60 inches). I think I'm ready, but you never know, and it never feels like you get there anyway. Making art is like being the proverbial mathematical arrow; when shot at a wall, you can prove it never hits the wall by calculating its trajectory in terms of the arrow cutting down the space between it and the wall by halves. The arrow moves closer and closer, reduces its remaining distance to the wall by half, over and over. Being half-way there, calculation by calculation, means it never gets there. That is exactly the way it feels to make art.
I believe yesterday's drawing #1 (above) is better than #2 (below). Both explore ideas I question and constantly research. The first examines large robust forms, and the second, surface textures. Marrying the two together in emotionally generated compositions is my problem to solve. This type of painting is demonstrated in the best of Picasso's late work (below my drawings from yesterday see two images of Late Picasso paintings, probably from the 1960's). Like me, Picasso went back and forth from loose, more textural work, to work dominated by form making. The conflict never dies.
Today I will make the effort to get out of this curve. I will try to hold firmly to the wheel, move out smoothly and in control. I do not know what today will bring, but it feels important.
I have slowed down. The last few day has been me using my time to reassemble. Looking back I see a year and a half of practice. Practicing means enhancing and acquiring knowledge. Those things that challenged me in June of 2010 no longer are challenging. This open gates. It widens possibilities. It allows for the making of more substantial art. Going forward, the art I make must be of greater meaning and greater depth. This reminds me of Woody Allen's statement about relationships: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies." This is scary stuff. The responsibility is not the same. I must move forward or my art-making dies. I change. I want my art to be alive and well. I will seek a different kind of truth. I accept my knowledge about making form, arranging composition, and using color, so now my truth-seeking shifts to the pictorial. Now it is not so much how I paint as what I paint.
Reassembling is also physical. I have purchased more canvas, brushes, larger paper, new framing material, and a larger drawing board. All this in preparation for a new and different manner of working. Today I will begin to stretch several new, blank, white canvases. I need several because I do not want my seeking to be slowed by construction. Construction now allows continuity later.
I can feel it. I have to move on. I need to expand my visual vocabulary. This will be done through larger format drawings and new, larger paintings. I will finish the painting "Unexpected," stretch a large canvas, and begin my renewal.
I am trying to be a patient man. As I get older I more fully realize the limitations of my life. I do not want to waste time. Yesterday's one drawing completely consumed me, and I do not think it is anything special. I did practice the craft of drawing. Is that enough to make it worth my time? I think yes. Practicing is like saving money in a bank. It is there for you. Time was spent, time is gone, but knowledge and intuition have been enhanced. So, maybe, it is not so much akin to money in a bank as an investment in property. It sits there, and it can be developed, and made more substantial, through additional, creative effort.
I do know that one of the reasons I make drawings is their being part of the problem solving of my paintings. Yesterday's drawing has an angled, uplifted head, similar (but pointed in the opposite direction) to the woman's head in the painting "Unexpected." Before going back into "Unexpected" I need to understand this particular pose of the head, which presents its own peculiar, structural problems.
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