I have been saying "Pond" is about to come to conclusion. Well, yes, but it will not give itself up easily. The latest revision is posted today and most obvious is the redness of local color on the two figures on the left. This needs to be corrected. This is an atmospheric painting, after all, and though I love red skin tones the red needs to be controlled by atmospheric color. Despite my going too far with the red I believe I had some success with the composition and forms. And despite my saying the finish of this painting is not coming easily each revision is bringing "Pond" one step closer to conclusion. I am hanging in there. So here is "Pond" in its current state, version 8:
The drawing of the day surprised me, but after my writing my post about "Pond" I realize this drawing must have been a precursive warming to the coming frustration of my trying to complete "Pond."
I always have felt I do not accomplish all I wish to accomplish. Too many ideas are placed on the back burner as I stir and cook my current paintings. Consequently I never cease to be hungry for more time in the studio, but my energy and rhythm prevent me from making work more quickly than I do. As with everything, I am trying to understand this rhythm to better my process so I become more comfortable with my limitations. "Pond" is the only painting I am working on now. There is a two or three day cycle of major revision to re-immersion. Today I have the urge to work on "Pond" again, so I will. But I also feel "Pond" is coming to conclusion, so yesterday I stretched a 60 X 72 inch canvas. I will start a new painting within the next few days.
I have continued to make my "warm-up" drawings for two reasons. First, it wakes me up, gets me in touch to where I am in my development. I begin my day with better awareness. Secondly, there a lag between major revisions on painting and my consequent re-immersion. The daily drawings help me through the quiet periods when I am not working on the painting. During those periods my mind is obviously working, as the painting sits glaring at me in the studio; I view it and contemplate the next step. The daily drawings keep me alive, well, open to change, aware of my problems, and active in problem solving. Yesterday I made one drawing and stretched the new, and rather large (60 X 72 inch), canvas. That was it. The one drawing took longer than I expected, as I began it as a "warm-up." This has become the norm over the last several days in the studio and the drawing I post here, as simple as it looks, took a few hours to complete.
I can feel it. I am honing "Pond" into what this painting wants to be. This is version #7 and it is near completion.
Otherwise I produced my usual one "warm-up" drawing. I had this worry about showing this drawing because of its subject matter, but then I realized nothing physical is going on in this image. The figures may be connected in thought but the next step in this drama is nowhere, the figures are in stasis. Besides, it is a very good drawing; it displays my approach to finding form, composition, and image, continues to develop in a more satisfying manner. Also, I have made a promise to you to post [nearly] all I produce, so here it is...
I made good progress on "Pond" and will show its latest version in the next post. I also made one drawing; I am not completely comfortable with this drawing but show it here as per my promise to show everything I do in this blog. Most interesting to me is the labor going into my warm-up drawings right now.
I started this drawing with the intention to be and out, readying myself for the principal endeavor of the day, to work on the major painting, "Pond." Instead of a quick warm-up this drawing became a 3 hour project. I draw and erase (which is also drawing), change this and that, back and forth, and before I know it three hours are gone. This process of total immersion, where time and place are gone as my consciousness and the drawing are merged, has extended into hours instead of moments. Every artist knows this process, but this prolongation of my consciousness being absorbed by this intuitive activity, feels relatively new to me. I make no comment regarding my discomfort with this drawing besides it feeling like a revisit to things known rather than things discovered. I enjoy "discovering" much more than simply making art I already know how to make.
The last couple of days were low volume days in the studio. It is true, the drawing I show below took several hours. I am surprise how much time and effort I am putting into my "warm-up" drawings. These are the 9 X 12 inch drawings which occur everyday I am in the studio. I call them "warm-up" drawings because that is their function. Each day I enter the studio after absence for nearly 12 hours, so I have to wake-up and find my sources again. I am like an athlete who just hit the field and needs to limber the muscles before practice turns competitive.
Today I will paint again on "Pond." Yesterday a studio visitor expressed her admiration for "Pond" in its current state, which has not been touched since my last post. She spoke of the "clarity of the colors." The visitor is an artist I much admire (she has taught art for over 20 years), so this was very rewarding. Remember, several posts ago I worried about "Pond" getting muddy because of its enormous amount of revisions. My last revision was intended to clarify the color and the light. Apparently I am going in the right direction.
My approach to drawing has become more time consuming, but also the quality of the drawing is increasing rapidly. This is a very good drawing. My ambition to "feel" myself through the forms, surface, and light is coming true. I continue to be disturbed by position and composition, but these too are going in the right direction. I know I never will be completely satisfied, so when I make a drawing which gives some feeling of satisfaction I want to boast about it here.
I returned to "Pond." As predicted "Pond" is coming together and being solved satisfactorily. It will require much more effort and time, and this will continue today. Here is version 6 of "Pond":
I like this drawing. It felt good making it; it satisfies in form and composition. My process of making a drawing is changing, and it is affecting my painting as well. The forms are invented with reckless beginnings, and the final forms are found through intuitive acknowledgment of what rings true. In this way discovery and truth occur simultaneously, and preconceptions are diminished.
Post after post I have been telling you about the progress of the painting "Pond." Yesterday I re-entered the painting and I understood better its needs. Going away from one's work always seems beneficial. When I returned to "Pond" I had a renewed clarity. I believe it has a great chance of being an excellent work of art (I was despairing before I left the studio on August 10). I hope to be well enough along to show a new version of "Pond" in my next post.
Here's the first drawing from yesterday.
And here is the second drawing I made yesterday.
I am still mulling over my experience with the art in the Art Institute of Chicago. I saw four wonderful paintings by Philip Guston and two by Ferdinand Hodler. Of course I saw many more, but the paintings by Guston and Hodler are the ones sticking with me now. Also, the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson were on exhibit; Cartier-Bresson's work has always been an important influence on my art. His work and mine share the idea of the "decisive moment." Cartier-Bresson gives us these moments in photographs and I seek to find the same type of moment in drawings and paintings.
Here is a drawing I made today. It felt "more right" than the drawings I made yesterday. This drawing also marks a renewed clarity of immediate purpose: the drawing and I were engaged in all aspects of its making.
You may have found the last drawing a bit unusual, but I find this one (also made today) more strange. The space in this drawing is vaguely defined. What interested me here is facial expression tied to body posture, so I did not worry if the woman's back never did find a pictoral surface.
I've returned from Chicago and the viewing of much art in the Art Institute of Chicago.
I made two drawings today; making them reminded me of my days as an athlete returning from a rest. The process of making the drawings felt very good. But, as in returning from an athletic rest, the excellent feeling of the process may not mean the quality of the work is good. Take a look. You judge. I'll return tomorrow.
Today was my last day in the studio until August 20. I will be traveling. It felt like a day where loose ends are put in place. A local gallery wanted new work, so I delivered new work. I needed to assess where I am, so I did that with two new drawings. I did not attempt to paint on "Pond" (the major painting in the works). And, my son requested two of my recent drawings, so I framed those. Going away is emotionally perplexing for me. I love the idea of a vacation (I certainly need some rest and relaxation), I relish the chance to see my son in person (I will hand deliver the two drawings he requested), but I am making great progress in the studio. I will be drawing during my break, and I will post here as often as my ideas warrant a posting. My activity as artist will not grind to zero.
Here are the drawings made today...
This is version 5 of "Pond." The light has shifted to the rear, an attempt is in progress to lock together the entire painting by relative sizes, shapes, and positions of the multiple forms. "Pond" is in a good position to be solved quickly, but I am going away so it will have to wait. So much of the painting is in flux. It is impossible to make a good reproduction of it in its current state, thus I will keep the image small. You and I must wait for it to solve itself. Be patient; I know a good conclusion is coming.
To read my profile go to MEHRBACH.com.
At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.