Yesterday I wrote I was tired after I spent much energy on the new, and relatively large, painting. Today I did not work on that painting at all. But I did make two drawings. The first was simple exploration and felt good. The second was the type of drawing I do when I am tired: It was a fall back to examine basic art problems, e.g. form, contrast, surface, and an idea I have that form is dictated by proper expression of emotional meaning. Let me show them to you immediately, in the order I just mentioned.
I like the first drawing and I do not like the second. The first may even be inspiration for an upcoming painting. I have always been fascinated by more than two people interacting, and my next painting will probably have at least three characters (as does the one being made right now, shown "in progress" in yesterday's post). The second drawing is stiff and academic, but it serves a purpose. By taking my time to re-examine rudimentary problems I imbed within myself knowledge which must be learned through sheer effort, such as this drawing.
I worked hard today. I will write little and simply post the painting and drawing I worked on today. The drawing is new, the painting is the second version of the painting I began yesterday.
I'll show you two new works today, one drawing and the beginning of a new painting. This new painting is very important to me as it marks a new beginning. It marks my surrender to works of relatively large scale (larger than 60" in at least one dimension) and of a new complexity in number of figures and situations which these figures inhabit. Here are the two works from today...
The drawing is a study for the painting. The painting is shown after 3 hours of work. The right leg of the central figure (on the viewer's left) went through many positions until I settled upon its present position. The fish, and the other two figures, were quickly sketched as compostional elements and will be refined tomorrow. I intend to to keep you updated on this painting's progress because of the importance I attach to it. I know it difficult to read in this photo (remember this painting is approximately 60 X 70 inches so you are seeing it shrunk almost beyond comprehension).
I am in the midst of a turn. I can feel the centripetal force pulling on me. I need to let go and find where the turn would not have me go. Everyone knows Newton's first law says one must go in a straight line unless an outside force is placed upon one. I want to make the outside force disappear, I don't want to round the corner, I want to find my true straight line. I looked back today, at work as old as the 1990's, and it made me know I have accomplished more than I feel. (I was storing the recent work I feel is too good to destroy.) So this leaves me in the present, with many accomplished tools, and the force which distracts me: I never feel I have enough of the basic skills so I keep practicing the rudiments. I must deny this distraction and get back on the straight line. I am doing that. Today I made two drawings, one practiced the basic skill of form building and the inter-relationship of form to form, and the second was a study for the new painting I am about to begin (here and now). I hated the first drawing and will not post it. I like the second drawing, so here it is...
I continued to prepare the stretcher and canvas for the painting I will begin tomorrow. Dawn of a new day is where I am. Please, watch it happen here. Thank you.
I have not been doing much in the studio except cleaning up, thinking, making decisions. This is substantive and will lead to more important work. To give you a little idea I post the drawing I made yesterday.
It felt "right" in making this drawing. So today I ordered 6 new sets of stretcher bars to make 6 new canvases, each 60 X 72 inches. Tomorrow I will stretch a large canvas. I'll have to use a stretcher left from a painting I destroyed yesterday. It will be similar in size to the 60 X 72 inches of the stretchers I ordered today, but the new stretcher bars will not be here for at least a week so I need to use what I have. A new painting, based upon the drawing shown above will begin tomorrow. I'll keep you informed in both words and images.
Yesterday I wrote of my discomfort, said I was bored. It is more complicated. I realized my work had dead ended. It no longer was about one person's face or the interaction between two people. It has evolved and must move into researching the complexity of our place in this universe.
Today I destroyed about 20 paintings, they did not look correct to me. In each case I had not found a meaningful solution. Destruction cleaned out the dead ends. A dead end for me is not useless. Each of these paintings told me where I do not want to go ever again. Each helped me clarify what it is I want to do. What I do, what I paint, is what interests me. For a while I needed to make imaginary portraits and many drawings and many paintings with two people. Today's demolition leaves me with lucidity.
I made one drawing today, unlike drawings posted here in this short lived blog. Today's drawing was unlike the drawings you have seen here because it told a larger story. It had people and fish and trees and sky and water. Perhaps I can photograph it tomorrow morning so you can understand.
I look back at the postings of the paintings and drawings I have here and I feel a little uneasy: I am revealing some success but mostly my failures. However, I am like Thomas Edison. I believe a successful light bulb is proceeded by several hundred failures which were made to enlighten the inventor in how NOT to make a light bulb.
Yes, I'm bored. After yesterday's wipe out in the studio I know a change is necessary. Let me tell you about it. I made two drawings and I began a painting. The second drawing I posted here for about 5 minutes, tried to fix it with Photoshop, abandoned it (knowing it must partially be redrawn today), then removed it from yesterday's post. So what? Well, this is telling. I went on to paint a small canvas and could not find my way. Twice I rubbed out everything. It is now a rubbed out burnt umber ground.
Then, last evening I went to the opening of AVA Gallery's Summer Show, a big event here. It is a juried show (mentioned earlier in this blog). I submitted two paintings and only one was accepted, "Man with Plants" (shown below).
"Man with Plants" was completed last week and is 60 X 60 inches (AVA's maximum for their Summer Show). It is a great painting. Seeing it among the other works made me realize what I have been missing in the studio since completing this painting and the other submitted painting ("Nude in Green World" now on HOME page of MEHRBACH.com). Both these paintings are relatively large. After wiping out yesterday's effort in painting, twice, and comparing its confusing process to my excitement in producing "Man with Plants" and "Nude in Green World," I realize the little things I've made since then bore me. I need room to move on larger canvas. I need room to move on larger paper. I will upscale all my work. This required change is symptomatic of dissatisfaction induced by the rut I've been following. Day after day I have been doing the same thing, heads and couples in drawing after drawing (look back in this blog and what do you see?!?). Maybe the practice was necessary. But I need to move on.
Today I will not do much art-making in the studio, rather I will prepare myself for the proper place to go. I will order new and larger stretchers (60 X 72 inches) and I will assemble some larger paper than my standard 9 X 12 inches.
No message until tomorrow. I'll show you one drawing from today. I'll tell you about this drawing, and other struggles of today, tomorrow morning. Here is the drawing...
Yesterday I found myself having difficulty. The work did not flow as easily as the day before. Writing this blog is helping me understand the rhythm of my creativity. A day of excellence and ease is often followed by a day of struggle. I am unsure if the struggle is real or just me feeling I have entered unchartered territory and I need to give myself the time to catch up and get comfortable. In any case, following this text are the two drawings I made yesterday. I don't like them much, but I show them so we can begin to understand how problems get solved by me.
I realized yesterday's drawings spoke of one of my major influences: Rembrandt. A self-portrait of 1635 has Saskia sitting on Rembrandt's knee while he holds up a flask of beer. It is a very exuberant painting, and taken together yesterday's drawings refer to this one painting.
My painting of yesterday is shown below. In yesterday's post I wrote how it was created in a forceful manner, me jumping into the work and developing it without much conscious thought. It felt very good to make this painting, relying mostly on well developed instincts. Here it is...
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