The painting, Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014, is looking very good. As I wrote yesterday, I wish it had come, and will come, more easily. The struggle to get it right feels gigantic. To a large degree the difficulty I am experiencing is my fault. I keep looking for an easier way, but there is only one way. I am in the process of accepting my own manner of seeing and finding truth. As I accept this reality I strip away the fantasies of art made from simple exuberant bursts of creativity. Those simple bursts do occur, occasionally, as they did in yesterday's drawing. Drawing, however, is limited. If I accept true expression in minuscule amounts I can go for simple exuberance, but that would sadly fail me. I have a need for deep expression.
FYI: The reproduction of yesterday's drawing fails to capture the wonderful play of light and dark in its substantial subtlety. In the real thing the darker values around the man's eyes spell out light, form, and emotion. This just is not seen, or felt, in the reproduction you see here.
I always wish there was an easier route to success. Perhaps I make it more difficult than it has to be. My ambition, however, is to make something truly profound, something relentlessly interesting and informative. This ambition runs deep within me. I cannot escape it. So I do what I am doing with this painting. Here is state #21 of Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. And it ain't over yet.
Yesterday's first drawing is a study for this painting. Yesterday's second drawing is a study for an upcoming painting.
Yesterday I wrote of my frustration with the physiognomy of the characters in the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. Yesterday I was thinking I must accept what this painting has given me and follow it until completion. Then I went into the studio and saw it was just NOT right! I thought about my mental approach to solving this painting's characters. My approach was not right. There was only one way for me to strip myself of the frustration I feel with this painting. It was to become one with the emotions of the painting, i.e. with the characters in the painting. I had to allow myself to divest myself of my annoyance and frustration. I accepted this inner voice, the one that created the images that have appeared as this painting. Consequentially I painted through acceptance of necessity. I did achieve an acceptable character in the man on the left. I also achieved recognition of my previous failures, and an understanding on how such failure may be avoided. The trial on the depth of my understanding of this concept comes today. I will take on the other characters in Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014.
When Paul Cezanne was asked if he was happy with his Portrait of Ambroise Vollard he replied, "I like the shirt front." (See reproduction of Cezanne's painting after my work.)
I believe being an artist means one will never be completely happy with the art one creates. This, of course, means one will continue to make art. The quest for perfect expression continues. Once again, reproduction is deceptive. In person, the head of the man on the left in the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014, works better than seen here. I can finish that man today by taking a little weight off his chin line, and elongating his right arm (on viewer's left). However, after multiple tries, I can tell you I will not be absolutely happy with his image. I am happy with the overall composition of Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. So, like Cezanne, I am happy with something. This brings me to the major problem I have with Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. Its overall expression calls for a tightly bound manner of painting human physiognomy, and I don't like this tight feeling. In my next painting I will break this discomfort. I much prefer the manner in which I produced the heads in yesterday's drawing to the manner of approach in Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014.
Yesterday's drawing is a reaction to the drawing posted in this blog on 5/22/2014 (Untitled Drawing-05·21·2014). These drawings represent the beginning of the process of conceiving my next painted work, which will be a large triptych with two side panels, one of a man, the other a woman. Thus yesterday's feminine reflection to Untitled Drawing-05·21·2014. The central panel will be something larger and will be inhabited by both the man and woman. I will stretch up three canvases: in inches the three canvases will be 60X50, 60X60, and 60X50.
I really don't like the drawing I made yesterday, but I feel the changes to the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 are successful. The painting has moved in the right direction. As difficult as all these slow but steady alterations have been for me, they are educating me beyond intellectual measure. Yesterday's process, in altering the man's head (in the left panel), was more important than its outcome. Meaning, he isn't finished, but he is closer to completion because he has been felt more deeply. He has been felt as part of the entire painting. Today I will fix his chin, which appears here to be slumped and rounded, then move on to the girls and to finishing both canvases. The play of color and light in the left panel is now splendid.
A note about process:
Yesterday I approached solving the man's head as part of everything. I abandoned myself completely to feeling my way through his form, color, and position. I did this by sympathizing with his particular need for expression. This has often occurred in my drawing (that's why I enjoy drawing so very much), but this experience has not happened as easily in my painting. Yesterday I willed it to happen in my painting. I believe this has changed my life as a painter. I used my recent drawings to creep up to this ability to sympathize in everything I do. I watched myself draw. When I successfully found images that made expressive sense to me I took mental notes on process. I now know where I should be when painting or drawing. Because of my acceptance of this need to sympathize while in process, my painting, going forward, will be different. I will insist upon a process that makes expressive sense.
You can see me thinking and feeling my way in these drawings. In yesterday's post I lamented the time it is taking me to find a way to make a truly self-expressive painting. I thought I was on the verge with the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014, but yesterday it hit me hard: Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is just one more stepping stone. Perhaps that is all there is, stepping stones, one after the other. Yesterday's drawings are stepping stones too, but they feel especially insightful. I return today to Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 with a sense that I most likely will fail. I will not achieve a fully expressive painting in Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014, but it is one more step in that direction.
As I get closer to the completion of the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 I question my ability to be self-relevant. What a crock! No need! Yesterday I proceeded through my studio time with a drawing, then the painting, then a drawing. All the while I was asking myself about self-relevancy and the means to get there. In the painting I see figures that could be more expressively self-aware and self-relevant. I am probably wrong about this, but I do wish to make myself, and the viewer, experience the people in my art more powerfully than they experience the people in our world. I believe my people are becoming this, but not as fast as I would like. Leaning is described as a curve, like a graph. I agree with this idea. It is basically upward, but not consistently. Art's process is so complex that all problems can not be solved at once. The painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 did solve a few of my problems, like how to animate the structure of time with still images, and how to use positive and negative space to more advantage. However, I do find the figures in Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 more tame, and not as expressive, as those in yesterday's drawings. I am not going to take this as a failure, but as something inherent to the process. Even though I feel urgency, my art cannot immediately become all I imagine it must be. It is on a upward curve, but like the process of scientific discovery it is... two steps forward, one back, two step forward, one back, and on and on...
I'm only going to be here for a few seconds — I want to get out to the studio to finish that giant diptych of a painting, and I want to plan the next step. Bye!
I'm on the verge. Let me see if I can turn that mega-corner during the next few days. You and I have to hang in here, me actively, you watching. Stay tuned...
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