Yesterday was more about me watching the 1968 film, "The Lion in Winter," than about studio time. Fascinating is the fact that this film plays with the stuff I find most interesting: human interaction. James Goldman was the playwright, and screenwriter. His dialogue is amazingly intricate. The repartee and ripostes are worthy of my work, although verbal rather than visual. I relished every minute of it, as one does when interchange authenticates one's deepest concerns.
I spent only an hour in the studio and produced one drawing. It is a good one in form and expression, and flew from my pencil like water over a dam. NIce.
I have been going back and forth, looking at yesterday's post of the painting "Window," and then at the image I post of it today. Some changes I like, some I will miss. Overall it is a better painting today than it was yesterday. That's good. The biggest improvement is on the left. Widening the band of light on the table, and also giving the table more open space in the bottom left, has helped enormously. The woman's body is not as sensual, with some of the subtle curves being replaced with a stretched, and elongated form. Her head has turned, and is smaller, which makes more sense in this composition, but I will miss the more independent woman in the previous version. This woman has not reached fruition.
The two drawings I made yesterday continue my campaign to study subtle human interaction, with its consequent emotions. This campaign will never cease, but my tools available to wage war on this problem have recently been enhanced. This cycle, of acquiring an improved arsenal, and therefore returning to old questions with new attacks, is repetitive, and will also never cease. I continue to be very fond of my recent drawings. The light and forms exhibit a delicacy of expression which has jumped in quality when compared to my work in the not too distant past.
Yesterday I wrote of Frederic Remington, but I showed no image of his work. I will remedy this now by showing you a couple of his pieces below my posts of today. BTW: One of Remington's boasts was, "I really know the horse." This comes across very strongly in the images I show of his. Interesting is the fact that only once is he known to have drawn the female nude, and this caused a scandal, as it was published in a newspaper as criticism of a recent search of a woman by Spanish troops, who were trying to insure their safety from terrorism. Remington incorrectly showed the woman being searched by men, when she was actually discreetly search by a woman.
Here are two images of Frederic Remington's work:
Last night I was reading the book "Brave Companions" by David McCullough. It is a book of profiles, ranging from engineers to naturalists to artists. One profile is of the great American artist Frederic Remington. Remington wrote nearly as much as he made art, but his writings were not about art, but about cowboys and Indians, and the changes occurring in the western United States during the late 1800's. However, just once McCullough does quote Remington about art, and it applies to my enormous efforts in the making of art. Remington said, "Without knowing exactly how to do it, I began to try to record some facts around me, and the more I looked the more the panorama unfolded. Youth is never appalled by the insistent demands of a great profession."
You may have read between the lines in my recent posts. I constantly am surprised at the enormity of commitment required to make great art. There is nothing casual about making art. I should not be surprised at this, but the daily absorbance of my full quantity of physical, intellectual, and emotional energy often makes me contemplate the reason for my commitment. The sun may shine, a glorious day it may be, but I would rather be making art than observing the beauty which surrounds me. Making art is observing nature, but it is the nature of my being, not of my surroundings. Strange as it seems, I am not the first artist to notice this behavior. Tolstoi wrote of his envy of a lizard who could enjoy life by simply basking on a warm rock in the sun, and he also envied the abandonment to joy he saw in peasants as they danced. Tolstoi wanted to bask in the sun, and dance with joy, but he could allow himself neither of these pleasures. The simple joys of life did not come easy to Tolstoi; instead he was compelled to write great novels. The reason I prefer to make art, rather than bask in the sun, is not altogether known, or describable. I do know there is happiness in my success of seeking and finding. Yesterday the painting "Window" took another step toward clarity. This is reward for my commitment. I am like Remington, in that I am trying to "record some facts..." and the more I look the more the panorama unfolds.
Yesterday's drawing is a good one. I am delighted with its light, its forms, the play of the pencil line across its surface, and the expressive quality of the figures.
From the day I began to make art I have had a dream of being able to make art with pure pleasure, unmarred by struggle. It isn't going to happen. I can not count the number of times people have said to me things like, "You must enjoy painting so much," or "How lucky you are to have an activity which gives you such great pleasure." Neither statement is true, though, like others, I have sought making art with the dream of it becoming a pure and simple pleasure. It is, rather, a struggle to get it right, a struggle for perfection, and ultimately the act of seeking the impossible goal of true expression. My return to the painting "Windows" illustrates my difficulties, and my acceptance of my plight. This painting is much better than it was before I returned to it a couple of days ago, but it will require much effort to resolve and complete. Most annoying is the man's enormous head on the right, but that is only one of many problems which require solutions. This painting is beyond a sketch, but it is far from resolution.
I like the drawing I made yesterday. It is a continued push on human form as expression. There is a bend in the man's head which plays well against the frown of the woman. The man does not know the structure of his momentary relationship with the woman. Our inability to read his feelings is apt.
In yesterday's post I displayed the results of my revisit to the painting "Window." Fascinating is the research that is art making: This painting had advanced beyond the structure of my current approach. What you have been witnessing in this blog is me stripping away the most accessible knowledge in my intellect, replacing it with far deeper information. The knowledge necessary while making profound art is non-identifiable, non-verbal, and non-quantifiable, and cannot be listed on this page. This body of knowledge must be accessible while in the act of art-making. Practicing means falling into the abyss of the non-verbal intellect and letting it take over. The profundity of the resulting art is the measure of this knowledge.
Given the insight I tried to describe above, my recent encounter with "Window" is even more dramatic than seen in the image posted yesterday. Yesterday I entered the studio, sat in front of "Window," and was blown away by the stuff it would take to solve it. This painting cannot be solved by anything I am able to describe. I have to jump into it, and let it find itself as I find myself. Yesterday I made three drawings with this in mind, practicing rendition born in the abyss that is my authentic knowledge.
I am not going back an entire year, but I am revisiting all the paintings I produced since July of 2010. Most of them require work to finish. "Window" is probably the most obvious in need of help. My first effort to make "Window" right came yesterday. With the knowledge I have acquired since I last worked on it, I have a chance to transform this good idea into an exceptional painting. The depth of this painting is considerable, so much so that I was unable to handle it in my first go-around. Yesterday's work brought better clarity to its basic theme, which is all about the two figures in shadow, and their difficulty dealing with the gigantic problem every couple must deal with, intimacy as involved inside and outside of sexuality.
I produced two drawings yesterday, both before I painted on "Window." These drawings are studies. As works of art, they do not stand alone. The first continues my research into various ways two people relate to one another; it is me testing the manner in which people express intimate emotional contact. The second is research into human physiognomy, mostly in terms of the possibilities of producing its elements within the structure of its overall form.
Yesterday I watched the film "The Fighter." It struggles to tell a tale of human relationships. The characters vary from mother to brother to sister to friend to lover, and each is conflicted by a variety of needs. People want so many things for themselves and from one another: these needs conflict with their relationships. In this film family members lose touch with the basic values of loving one another while seeking to flourish financially and for esteem within their community. The fighter wants dignity through success, but wants intimacy with family members and his significant other. "The Fighter" is a great movie.
In recents posts I been elated about the progress of my work. On 04/20/2011 I wrote about my exhaustion after several days of substantial success. I took one day off, went back in the studio for a day, moved forward on the painting "Man and Man," and then yesterday was low key, producing just one drawing. I believe yesterday's drawing is important. Many struggles are occurring in "Man & Man," most important is my desire to observe, address, and substantiate the relationship between the two characters. In the drawing shown today I address a relationship between two people. The characters' heads dominate, and I try to find subtle interaction between the two. This has to happen in "Man & Man." This has to happen in all my work. Even when a character is by himself, or herself, there has to be an emotional connection. When only one figure is in an image the connection must occur between the viewer and the character in the painting.
My struggle with character relationships is only one problem I am trying to solve. "Man & Man" is investigating color, composition, texture, and form, and much more. I am questioning my use of all the elements of art. "Man and Man" is an important painting, but during the next few weeks you will see me revisit virtually every major painting I have begun in the past year. Today I intend to put the painting "Window" on my work wall and take a good look at it. "Window" is a painting that got stuck. Perhaps I can put it in motion again.
As noted in my previous post, I was exhausted and took a day off. I feel strong again; witness yesterday's output as argument for following one's energy.
The posting of my images in this blog is a tremendous help to me. The photos of my work give me a different perspective. "Man & Man" is 50 X 60 inches in real life, and 5 X 6 inches here. I have often complained about the disparity between viewing an actual work of art versus viewing its reproduction. Reproductions generally stink. Like food going bad, reproductions do not taste right. But here, in reproduction, they serve the purpose of recording my thoughts, and more important to me, they allow me to see them in a format removed from the intensity of the studio. The reproduction's limitation in size compels me to see the quality of their composition, although the colors, values, and textures are compromised.
The drawing I post today is larger than the normal 9 X 12 inches. This one is on 11 X 14 inch paper. I like the larger format and will continue with it for now.
I have nothing more to say today. The work will speak for itself. I believe my venture is going well.
It was one more very good day. Most gratifying is my solution for the man on the right side of the painting "Man & Man." Also, the space these men are inhabiting is beginning to make sense in expression and composition. But, I am getting tired, nearing exhaustion. It has been a week of insight and evolution. Indications of my fatigue have appeared. Although the overall accomplishment in yesterday's work is good, there are signs of me missing details. You can see this in the wrist of the upheld hand in the painting "Man & Man," and also in the wearisome composition and laborious forms of the drawing.
Revolution! You may not feel this way about my newest work, but it feels this way to me. It feels as if everything is new. My trite idea, that all forms are symbolic, is more profound then it reads. This idea has introduced freedom to my work, an ability to separate my forms from natural forms, allowing my constructions to be uniquely expressive, unfettered by reverence for anatomy or directly observed reality. My forms are becoming reality filtered through my emotive intellect. This transformation is happening fast, in front of your eyes and mine.
Here is the newest version of "Woman with Flowers," now entitled "Woman with Little Man." This is a vast transformation in form and expression. Compare it to its previous version and you will better understand the thoughts I expressed in today's first paragraph.
I am immensely enjoying the act of drawing; I show two drawings made yesterday. Enjoy, as I did in making them!
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