Here in New Hampshire today will be the first mad day of summer, hot and sunny. I will be in that light and heat today, so don't expect a post tomorrow. My painting will wait, but it does seem to radiate a lot of light as well. I believe I know how to finish this painting and bring it to conclusion. Indeed, the most surprising part of my process, right now, is the drive coming from my intuition—I know where to go next to solve this thing. Yesterday's drawing surprised me with its contrast in values (form to ground), and in its use of line to fashion form versus space.
Join me today at AVA Gallery for a panel discussion on drawing. I will be on the panel, along with several other artists who are in AVA's current Drawing Invitational exhibit. The discussion begins at 5:30 pm.
Today is the one-hundredth anniversary of The Rite of Spring, a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev’s dance company. The original choreography was by Vaslay Nijinsky. The ballet was first performed on May 29, 1913. The unusual and astonishingly new nature of the music caused a sensation resulting in a near-riot from its Parisian audience. At the bottom of today's post is a drawing of Igor Stravinsky by Pablo Picasso. I have listened to the music of Igor Stravinsky more than the music of all other composers combined. Stravinsky has long been my favorite. I will never forget my introduction to him and his music. I was studying Oceanography at Oregon State University when the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra came to Corvallis, Oregon for one night to play in the school's gym. They played Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. There were jeers and sneers from the audience. After the performance I went to the local English style pub (where Orchestra members had congregated and mingled with the locals). The locals spoke of how "even the Orchestra found the music silly." This was over 60 years after Stravinsky premiered The Firebird, which had preceded The Rite of Spring by 3 years.
N.B. Pablo Picasso is the artist I look to most for advice and inspiration. It is fitting that I show Stravinsky's portrait drawing by Picasso, thereby placing both of these role models of mine on the same page! Picasso and Stravinsky were always open to experimentation and research, which are two of my aspirations as well.
Today just images... no words from me except these you are now reading.
Slowly the unraveling appears to be happening. "The child is father of the man." So true. I am patiently listening to the voice formed in me during my youth. I watched rainbows with wonder and wished to participate in the glory of their creation. "So it is now I am a man." Two poets probed this dilemma which muddles and perplexes us in our adulthood. I give you quotes below from William Wordsworth and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
“My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”
I ask you, "When you feel like you know what you're doing, do you know what you're doing?" This reminds me of the query of the painter Nicolas de Staël to the eminent Georges Braque (often cited as the co-inventor of Cubism with Picasso): "How do you know that you aren't just a hack?" Braque answered, "You don't!" In any case, right now, as I work, I feel imbued with knowing. It worries me in the same way it worried Braque and de Staël.
I am trying to be patient with myself. Over the last few years I have disciplined myself into behaving properly, which means to me relying upon an approach which demands authenticity of emotional and intellectual expression. To find my way I have learned to listen to deep voices within myself; voices which are far from verbal and therefore not quantifiable in words. I am getting better at this. The intellectual part of me, the one which acknowledges mortality and the limitations of human time, is impatient. I want to get on with the job of expression, get to it and get it done. But that's not the way the self-learning curve works. It opens slowly, like a flower of many petals; therefore I encourage myself to be patient.
Sometimes it feels like I am creeping along, watching the flowers unfold. This is one of those times.
I see it, and I believe it. More and more glimpses of the possible are showing up in my work. As usual, my drawing leads my painting in its risk taking and, therefore, its discoveries. The drawing posted today does good stuff because I felt my way through it and did not resort to the stop and go of intellectual debate. This happened throughout this drawing. This is the process that is opening the cracks through which I see enormously surprising possibilities. By "possibilities" I mean the potential of my work to visually render that which I know and feel, and that which I wish to unravel and know.
Lately I have been leaving you will quite a few "relevant" quotations. Here's one more from Leonard Cohen's song, Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring ...
"Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to success is to try one more time."
And so it is. I am always looking for inspiration and influences. Thomas Edison has been important to me for a long time. Edison spoke often about the requirement of effort and failure in the path to success. Strangely, this quote literally fell into my lap when I opened the plastic wrap around the newest issue of Wired Magazine. It comes from a Mazda automobile advertisement. (Two more interesting quotes from the same source appear below.) In any case, my drawings, day by day, are me "trying one more time."
"I know that if I scare myself once a day, I'm a better person."
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