There is absolutely nothing important to report today. Last week was a good one. The self-portrait and the drawing posted yesterday (03/20/2011) were excellent. The drawing made yesterday, and posted today, is tired and poor. Despite this drawing's low quality, I post it, because this is a running diary of my art activity; the good, the bad, and the ugly must be shown in order to be complete. So here it is, yesterday's drawing:
Before I show you my "Still Life-March 2011" in the Museum of Modern Art, let me show you the work produced yesterday. This week's work has been excellent. The self-portrait, began earlier this month (first image posted on 03/10/2011), received another day of attention. Of my three recent self-portraits, this is the best. It is not complete, but solved, requiring just a few more hours of time. Yesterday's drawing is also excellent. My work is coming together, I am energized, just before I will leave the studio for 10 days. I am off on a journey to visit friends and family in North Carolina. I leave this Wednesday, March 23. Look below the two works from yesterday for a view of my recent still-life in one of the galleries of the Museum of Modern Art (New York).
In the same gallery is a sculpture by Willem de Kooning, and on the extreme left is a painting by Robert Motherwell. Truth be told, this is another of Dick Schellens' fabrications. I love it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
I continually complain about reproduction. "Still Life - March 2011" is complete, but it looks better in person than in reproduction. This painting is exceptional; its expands outward with light and sensitively rendered form. The delicacy of the face is more subtle in person. The colors are rich, but not quite as loud (e.g. the little red streak on the rectangular box-like object, seen in upper center of the painting, is nearly incomprehensible in the real painting, but in the reproduction it stands out).
Yesterday's drawing preceded my painting on the still-life. The more I admit to the quality of my skills the more new ideas are opening to me. To you, this drawing may not seem different from others I have made. To me it is, once again (as I wrote about in yesterday's post), a revelation. My approach, dedicated to seek and find, has grown over the entire page. I like all three heads in this drawing, but I am most proud of the head on the extreme left. I had to play with it (mark in, erase out, find the form, in and out) to make it work with the other two heads and the composition. It was an exhilarating experience.
The painting I show you today surprises me. It is a revelation. I can transform anything I imagine into a two-dimensional work of art. However, I do not know what I imagine. My making art is research, discovery, of my imagination. Imagination is an outgrowth of desires and fears.
The skills I have gathered have shifted my responsibility. When I was a student my responsibility was simple: absorb knowledge. Now my responsibility has shifted to an ongoing search to live comfortably. I do not mean material comfort, but emotional comfort. To be emotionally comfortable one must accept here and now as reality. We all wish this was simple. Being comfortable means stripping away the distractions caused by misdirections and accidents. Some people use a psychologist, or psychiatrist, to help with this. Some meditate. I just make art. I am in an effort to better my use of art-making to quiet my discomfort. The work in front of me is revelatory.
I like the drawing I made yesterday. It was spontaneous, and a prelude to the three-dimensional forms created in the still life. Practically, for what seems like the hundredth time, I am discovering I am happy when I make three-dimensional forms on a two-dimensional surface. Doing this makes me feel like I am comprehending reality. Is this a deception or a revelation? It can be both.
The new look, the openness to simplicity and a direct approach, without criticism, continues. Today I show you yesterday's work, but I will not comment. The work must speak for itself.
As usual, I am not sure where I am going, but I am riding a new wave, and enjoying it. The work from yesterday spells this out. The first drawing does this literally, with a written message (unusual for me). The second drawing is more traditional (for me), as it is a man and woman, and nothing more. Yesterday's third drawing is the best of the bunch. It is different than what you seen here before, being a still life with a woman. This led me to a new painting; a small one, just 26 X 32 inches. The first effort on this canvas is shown today. Since I am allowing myself to follow natural, spontaneous instincts, I believe I will finish this painting today.
In yesterday's post I queried myself. I tried looking through the lens of my past and sync it with my present impulses. I reviewed my past interest in creating a personal mythology and called it an "aside," influenced by my mentor Philip Guston. Looking at my recent work, I concluded my most natural impulse is to touch paper, or canvas, with the simple intention of making form and a solid composition; i.e. my most basic urge drives me to stroke out every nuance of every form on a two--dimensional surfaces.
This bring me to yesterday's activity in the studio. I discovered my basic impulses rule. I have no great allegiance to any particular image. This is difficult to believe if you have read this blog for the last six months. Mostly I have explored couples interacting. My work is about human interaction. However, it does not have to contain two people, observing one another, to make this happen. Every painting is about human interaction, even the most abstract. The human viewer always interacts with the stuff put in front of him or her, on the canvas, be it paint strokes, color, and form. A work of art does not need to contain the human form, or objects taken from the "real" world, to force the viewer's engagement.
Yesterday I entered the studio seeking to follow the idea posed in yesterday's post: my primary need is to stroke a two-dimesional surface and create tangible form, as if I was inventing the form for the first time. This form includes the surface itself. The drawings I made felt very good in the making. I let go of preconceived notions of what objects, or beings, must appear in my art, beginning each drawing with the primary purpose of filling the paper with form, which would be given meaning by its reaction to what came before it. I built compositions, not mythology. Inadvertently a personal mythology was created, but, in reality, these drawings are as abstract as a still life, and the objects (in the process of being made) were no more important to me than apples.
Yes, there are major changes occurring within me, and I am making a great effort to find a means to visually exhibit my questions and answers. Some of the stuff I valued is leaving me. I am seeing the transformation of my interests. I have always been fascinated by art as exhibition of introspection; introspection of why and how art is made, and introspection of why and how we exist. This has given way to my making pictures, which have ranged from abstractly observing the process of art-making, to creation of a visual mythology (for a quick look at my painting history go to my Biography in Pictures).
My first great influences were Cezanne, van Gogh, and Gorky. Not because what they painted, but because their paintings left technical tracks of their searching for visual truth. In this art-blog I have shown paintings by Cezanne and van Gogh, but I do not think I have shown a painting by Arshille Gorky. His work is instructive to me, then and now. Below this paragraph I show Gorky's painting "Milkweed." This painting is about seeking and finding, both occurred simultaneously, as the painting was constructed. To make a painting like "Milkweed" one must immerse oneself in the process of making art, and leave behind the need to consciously hold onto to concrete visual memories, though a painting like this is fraught with, and informed by, visual memories.
The other extreme, which now appears to me to be an aside, was my search for existential meaning through inventive personal mythology. In this regard, my teacher, Philip Guston, was most influential (Guston's painting "As it Goes," from1978—when I was studying with him, appears below this paragraph). If you wish to see one of my "personal mythology" paintings, and a discussion of my art at that time in my life, go to this Sharon Arts Gallery "Press Release."
This brings me back to the present. As of today, my search for meaning by invention of representational mythology, does not seem important. I just want to move my hand and discover as I make art. I am beginning to believe the consequence of simultaneously being and acting is enough. This activity informs and expresses. From here, this seems like all I need. I state this with no great affirmative security. I am questioning through my work, in hopes of finding security. The two drawings I made yesterday exhibit this approach, an approach less interested in definitive compositions, and more interested in finding while marking the page. Here they are...
I am in the midst of completing a phase of my work. The art I am making now, the stuff currently in process, is not expressing as clearly, or as directly, as I know and feel. This is a chronic problem. Michelangelo's deathbed statement has always held great meaning for me: "I am dying just as I am beginning to learn the alphabet of my profession." I always feel I am in the midst of a learning process, always grasping for more. My art is moving closer to full expression. Success is relative. The art I am making now is better than that which I made a year ago. And so it goes...
Here are yesterday's drawings:
I began a new self-portrait. This will satisfied my need to explore my own image, for now. This one is "Self-Portrait, March 2011, #2." It will be completed over the next week.
Yesterday I also made two drawings. I am uncomfortable with everything I am producing. A shift in my work is coming. However, I need to finish the loose ends, and these are four major paintings: "Pond," "Four People," "Window," and "Two." I will show you the drawings from yesterday and then be on my way...
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