At last I am cleaning up after the storm. The storm was not just the hurricane. This past month has been full of distractions and hurricane Irene was just one of them. Yesterday I pulled out the painting "Pulling Onions." I began its process toward completion. The background is all I touched, so it will not look a heck of lot different to you. In the next few days I'll finish it, and then I will publish an advertising post card, which will include images of "Pulling Onions" and "Pond." I will keep you informed so you may request the card after its publication.
Yesterday's drawing was another good one, and illustrates my march toward increased mastery. The composition includes a spatial rotation caused by directional lighting: the standing figure is lit from the right side and the woman's head is lit from behind. I also enjoy the spatial drop off to the man's feet.
Yesterday's "warm-up" drawing is a good one! I felt and drew simultaneously. My spontaneity surprised me. This is a product of a mind well rested. I have lamented my distractions, from politics to financial markets to earthquake to hurricane. I took rest from the studio because Hurricane Irene swept me away with preparations and my taking shelter in the house. Unfortunately, rivers and streams literally swept away many things, and a few people, in the neighboring state of Vermont. I can see Vermont from here, just across the Connecticut River, which is swollen and muddy from Irene's rains. It is time for me to make a "Flood Painting." I put quotes because it has been done before, but not by me. My mentor, Philip Guston, made several "Flood Paintings," and there is an early Willem de Kooning drawing of figures being swept away. It is an interesting metaphor.
After yesterday's drawing I show the current state of "Balancing." Its color is enriched, and the figure is more defined. Patience is important. I need to let the painting call for alterations; I must not force changes.
Recently I have been worried by more than my art. My concerns have been distracting, and include everything from politics to the financial markets to Hurricane Irene. Irene will hit us tomorrow in Lyme, New Hampshire. As silly as it is, a current distraction includes the song "Goodnight Irene," lyrics by Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly). Here are the words which keep rattling around in my head:
"You cause me to weep, you cause me to mourn
You cause me to leave my home
But the very last words I heard her say
Was 'Please sing me one more song'
"Irene goodnight, Irene goodnight
Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene
I'll see you in my dreams"
As annoying as it is to be distracted from one's life endeavor, it is sometimes necessary in order to find lasting peace. My drawings are the first indicator that things are not quite right, and that I am not properly focused. Yesterday's drawing is a standard fall-back. It is mundane and dispassionate, hiding as it is in simple knowledge of line and form. Within 48 hours Irene will have passed. Predictions include widespread power outage. My studio life is dependent on power. Good luck to my readers in the path of Irene.
Images is all I report today. At this juncture, conscious ideas are useless. Here is what happened yesterday:
Should I want to know? The painting "Balancing" might be comprehensible if I put effort into verbal wonder about its meaning. At this point that would be nonproductive. It is important that I discover while painting.
Yesterday's drawing continues a rapid acquisition of skill. I am particularly fond of the woman's left arm (on viewer's right).
I am beginning to believe this is the way it is, and it is not going to change. Unless we simply accept turmoil is normal. Hurricane, earthquake, volatility in world markets, rebellions, wars, insecurity. All good reasons to have a mundane day job and a good book to read every night. However, this is not my way. I'm the running guy in yesterday's second drawing. The only way I can handle this instability is by making art: keep on moving!
Right now world events are distracting. From the weather (Hurricane Irene) to conflicts (Libya revolution) to the financial markets' turmoils and declines. Wow. It all makes me nervous. What is going well? My art is. It stabilizes me despite my worries. Yesterday's drawing illustrates my anxiety. It also displays the quality of my draftsmanship. I am so glad I can draw well in a world which is not well.
I am unsure. I do not know where this new painting is going. I am uncomfortable, but I do not know a better way. How does one know if one makes sense? It takes a risk to find out. The final product will either be true or a mess of discordant ideas. My job is to find truth. I will keep on going. The name for this painting, "Balancing," is apt. It is a depiction of a man trying to balance, but it also is me balancing all I know. I am proceeding as if through a fog. Maybe that's how that cloud, on the right, was formed, as a small bit of fog I must get through. Why is the cloud being held back? Fogs are scary. Everything about this painting is surprising me.
The two drawings from yesterday are unrelated to the new painting. The first is a simple scrap of whimsy. The second is a study for the painting "Pulling Onions." I continue to analyze the manner which feet hit the ground while standing, as this corresponds to man on the right in "Pulling Onions."
I continue to surprise myself. For a couple weeks I have been playing around with the idea of a man on a rock with an unusual flying insect menacingly hovering above him. The painting, with this theme, began yesterday. It surprised me because it is taking its own route, different from my original vision, different from my drawings. I am allowing the painting to invent itself, with me as conduit, not as illustrator, of the image. The canvas is large (the photo shows I am having trouble evenly lighting such a large canvas). Tomorrow I will tell you the exact dimensions. Today I will just keep going, letting myself interact with the image being formed in front of me. I also want to return to, and finish, "Pulling Onions." It is time for me to gather together the work of the past year and market it. This will begin with a post card of "Pond" on one side, and "Pulling Onions" on the other. When it is done I will post it here and you may request one be sent to you. Look for this mid-October.
The new painting is entitled "Balancing." It is a return to personal mythology. It reflects my feeling for the precarious state of today's world. Each of us being required to make great efforts to remain "balanced" while threats surround us.
Yesterday I found myself satisfied with the condition of the painting "Pulling Onions." It is not complete, but it is in a sweet spot, ready to be finished off. I took a day to contemplate it before its final round. I made a couple of drawings. More importantly, I stretched and prepared a major-size canvas for my next painting. The drawings are good ones. I feel my direction is correct. When I sit to draw my instincts take over and away I go. It will be interesting to watch my approach in making the next painting; will instincts take charge?
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