I spent much of yesterday's studio time framing. I prepared newer work to replace the older work at Long River Studios. I have one more drawing to frame today. Later today you can visit Long River Studios to see the work in its actual state, on paper and canvas. As you know, I have often been unhappy with the reproduction of my work in this blog. Thus I encourage you the see the real thing whenever possible. In this regard, I feel OK about today's reproduction of yesterday's drawing. In reproducing yesterday's drawing I approached the use of Photoshop differently. Perhaps I can get this close with every artwork from now on (albeit, today's reproduction is not perfect: the drawing is on white paper and here it appears as a low value of gray).
There is stuff to do besides make art. Yesterday was one of those days and today is as well. I still made art, and I will today, but art-making time is limited. I have to frame today, and also transport work to the local gallery, Long River Studios.
Yesterday's drawings are either more complex in their values and contrast, or my ability to photographically reproduce has gone terrible.
You may miss the changes in Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 during your first quick glance at today's reproduction of the painting. They may appear minor because of the small size of the reproduction. But, again, they are surprisingly important. Zoom in (its in HD!). In the left panel you will see the changes in the feet and legs of the woman, and in the right hand of the man. Mostly I worked on the woman's feet and legs. Her back leg moved forward, and her toes became defined. Her legs, one after the other, generate a vertical plane which produces a spatial corridor between the man and the woman. It is important compositionally, and emotionally!
For the last two days my studio time has been divided like this: First, Experimental drawing. Second: Enhancing minor elements of Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. Yesterday I spent two-thirds of my time on the drawing. It is difficult to believe, but the decision making on the woman's feet and legs took well over an hour. Basically. I think I can sustain this daily rhythm of working for at least another week. As you know, I very much want to move onto the next painting, but I feel this is as important to me as "Joy of Life" was to Matisse and "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" was to Picasso (both reproduced below my work).
First, please notice I have reproduced the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 with a white bar separating the two panels (previously I used a gray bar). This white separation is better, as it better approximates the white wall on which the painting will be exhibited. More important to me, Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is better today than it was before yesterday's work. The minor alterations are making it better and better. Reluctant as I am to continue to move this paint toward ultimate finality, I must admit it is worthwhile. With every action I feel I am creating the penultimate chapter, but no, there is more than one more chapter to complete. Yesterday I started by altering the feet of the woman in the left panel. I ended by repainting her legs and dress. Her rear foot is not resolved. I will start there today. The woman's feet function similarly to the man's right hand (in the right panel), i.e. it aids in defining the plane that is the artifice of the 3D world in which the figures sit.
Yesterday two drawings took up about half of the studio session. I like this division of time. It allows me to explore my current concerns, then return to the ponderous endeavor of altering minor elements within the mostly resolved painting, Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014.
I have been trying to talk myself into the belief that Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is complete. But every time I touch the painting, it gets better. Yesterday I learned something important. I worked on the hands of the man in the right panel. I was startled by the importance of these hands, not just because of the emotional expression they add to the figure, but also compositionally. The fingers on his right hand (on viewer's left) act as a small plane which helps the viewer fall into the composition using its third-dimensional aspect. I am bolstered by this success. That right man's hands are not complete, but I will wait a day or two for the oil to dry before completing them. Today I will work on the woman's feet in the left panel. Tomorrow I will report to you my perception of this seemingly minor change. I thought the man's hands I changed yesterday to be a minor alteration. Perhaps defining the the woman's feet will be just as important as the man's hands. I really would like to move onto the next painting, but the knowledge I am absorbing as I continue to work on Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is just too important. What I learn now will stay with me forever.
I wrote in yesterday's post that I am accepting my total fascination with the surfaces of three-dimensional forms. You can see this in yesterday's drawing. Yesterday I reproduced a Lucian Freud etching in order to exhibit a common thread between him and I. Today I show you an early Matisse, where he, in his imitable way, plays with the color and light on the three-dimensional surface of the face and upper torso of a woman.
It is difficult for me to go through the ups and downs of internal, physical, intellectual, and consequently, creative energy. The last few days feel creatively low. But, who am I to judge? I am just the guy making the stuff. In any case, right now I feel today will be the day I return to full creativeness. Yesterday was a typical day of energy seeping back in, a day of returning to the way I prefer to feel. Yesterday's middle drawing is the best, so I show it first. My interest in surface it apparent in drawings #2 and #3. These exhibit my great interest in the emotional subtlety that minor forms emote within the overall form of the human face. Knowing this, I looked back at the works of Lucian Freud, which is a relevant comparison (see an image of a work by Lucian Freud after my work).
This drawing is all I have from yesterday. It seems to be a celebration and exploration of drawing skills. I have little to say because I don't feel great emotional attachment to this drawing. It was pleasurably analytical in the making.
It is what it is. A query and then an answer. The answers are never the correct and the queries just keep on coming. Such is the making of art.
The painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is very close to complete. Yesterday's entire studio session was devoted to it, obviously! It is time for final decisions about minutia. Let's think back to some of Henri Matisse's work between 1905 and 1910. Matisse made decisions not to over-detail things like limbs and extremities. In those works of Matisse, feet and hands often appear awkwardly drawn. The viewer is forced to look at those paintings in terms of color, composition, and surface (e.g. Dance of 1910 or Nymph and Satyr of 1909, shown below). As I return to complete Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 I will be making decisions about hands and facial elements (the minutia). This may not happen today. I think I need to step back and breathe a little before I proceed to finish it off.
I got too involved with the form of the man's pants in the left panel. I moved the color toward yellow ochre and didn't notice the color mismatch. It was not until I stepped back at the end of the studio session that this color problem hit me. It disturbs me greatly, mostly because I concentrated on form, and absentmindedly forgot to watch the entire painting. The yellow ochre does not play well with the woman's dress, nor does it reflect the man's pants in the fight panel (not the man in the right panel is the same man as the man in the left panel). In any case, this is a minor problem. All I see now are minor problems. This painting is almost complete, and this fact is the opposite of disturbing.
I like yesterday's drawing. I will not draw today. I will go straight to the painting.
A note about reproduction: The painting is evenly lit. In the past, when photographing the painting, I have added lights to the normal overhead bank of lights used during painting. I noticed the extra lights caused areas of color to wash-out. Today's reproduction of Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is not quite as vibrant as yesterday's, but overall it is more cohesive because of the even lighting. I continue to grapple with the white paper in reproducing of the drawing. It appears gray in today's reproduction. The choice is always made to exhibit the pencil line, and the consequent form, as best as possible. This does not mean the reproduction perfectly reflects the subtlety of the pencil's values. I will never be satisfied with reproduction.
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