J.M.W. Turner, "Rain Steam and Speed", 1844 and "Intestinal Forms", 1990, both oil on canvas
One hundred and forty-six years separate J.M.W. Turner's painting, "Rain Steam and Speed", from my painting, "Intestinal Forms". Despite the chronological distance between the two, I find similarity in the attitude in which they were created. Turner became more and more himself as he aged ("Rain Steam and Speed" is considered a "late" Turner, produced in 1844 when Turner was 69 years old). During my time away from making art I have been contemplating the manner in which I make art. Turner became himself by realizing, on canvas and paper, his deeply discerned intuitive knowing. I sometimes veer away from my own deeply intuitive knowing. I get distracted by searching for more knowledge. This quest for the ephemeral must end. When I return to painting I will follow the complexity of my internalized expressive self and make the art I was born and bred to make. This will be nurture and nature coming together, unified in my art. I admire Turner for accomplishing this in his lifetime. Other painters have also achieved this lofty success. Here I name a few other artists who I see as having succeeded: Willem de Kooning, Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Alberto Giacometti, and James Ensor. These five are the ones that immediately come to mind, but of course there are others. The five I have named, along with J.M.W. Turner, are most on my mind as I seek my own redemption from the failure I witness when I seek knowledge, rather than perform my knowing.
Before I go, let me show you one of my favorite paintings by J.M.W. Turner, "Burning of the Houses of Parliament", 1834. This painting is also considered a "late" work of Turner's. "Burning of the Houses of Parliament" is much less abstract than "Rain Steam and Speed", and it was painted 10 years before "Rain Steam and Speed".
Wild 3D (1990), and Tele-Vision (2015), both oil on canvas
The more things change the more they remain the same. Twenty-five years separate the creation of the paintings reproduced above, yet they have remarkable similarities. I am not going to make art for the next 12 days. Instead, I am going to spend my time mulling over the current state of my work, its efficacy, its derivative history (both internal and external), and my ongoing mission to make it relevant to myself and to you, my viewers.
Drawings from 8/14/2015, both pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Yesterday was simple. I made simple drawings. I went to a party where my paintings and drawings were highlighted. In the morning I wrote my blog, at the party I spoke about the ideas I expressed in yesterday's blog post. Simple. Today I am tired, so I will not go to the studio.
ANNOUNCEMENT: It is an annual thing... in late August I take time to reassess where I am, where I am going. I clean the studio. I also think of myself as a business person and revise my business plan. I will begin these two-plus weeks today, returning Wednesday September 2nd.
Drawings from 8/13/2015, both pencil on paper, 20X16 inches
A few days ago I discussed my problem with figurative work. I wondered, was I abandoning it for the abstract? Imagine my surprise when yesterday's first drawing appeared. Then came the second, which seems to have abstracted figures. There is obvious stress between my intuition and my exo-consciousness. Metaphysically, I am observing knowledge in a battle for supremacy: A priori knowledge versus A posteriori knowledge. Does this matter? Not so much. It is who we are. It must be allowed. Will it work itself through? Will it come to conclusion? Can it be resolved? It does not matter where it goes. The questions I ask will produce a lot of possible answers. Such is art.
I am hesitant to begin a new painting. I will continue to hesitate until I understand the ground upon which I stand. Yesterday's drawing brought me a little closer to comprehension. And I do not mean, comprehension, in a verbal sense. Rather, as I made yesterday's drawing I felt that I moved with mindfulness, not dissimilar to making a successful move in sport. You just know when good choices are being made. I have to thank Jackson Pollack, and also the discussion of Pollack's "No.5, 1948", as seen, and heard, in the movie Ex Machina. In yesterday's drawing you can see me make an effort to approach drawing as an "automatic" activity, which was referred to in Ex Machina.
In a recent blog I mentioned the Jackson Pollack painting used in Ex Machina. For me, most of Jackson Pollack's paintings lack emotional depth and character, but not the one seen in Ex Machina. If anything, seeing it in this film, and exploring it a bit more on my own, I now recognize the reason Jackson Pollack's art is highly regarded. He did not make a lot of good work, but neither did Johannes Vermeer. Both these artist made a handful of exceptional works. Thus a reason to regard their body of work as important, and interesting, even those that fail. Below, I have included a reproducation of Jackson Pollack's painting "No. 5, 1948", and an explanation of its use in the film Ex Machina.
The following information about the Jackson Pollack painting seen in the movie "Ex Machina" is from Steven McQuinn at http://www.quora.com:
Drawings from 8/11/2015, all are pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Somehow, and someway, I am in the middle of the rejection of figuration. I am not sure this is forever, but it is for now. Yesterday's drawings are one more step on my quest to be real.
Today, appearing here is something unusual. I show yesterday's third drawing twice! The smaller format (above) can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image. The larger format (below) can also be clicked upon to isolate it on your computer screen. I show both ways because I want you to compare the overall compositional impact versus the play of individual forms (similar to grabbing the viewer from two viewing distances, far and near). I hope you enjoy!
Drawings from 8/9/2015, all are pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
There was a big break yesterday. At this moment I do not know if it is permanent. I always second guess myself. I often return to retest my proclivities and my priorities. Is this non-representation or abstraction? I think abstraction. (From Wikipedia: Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.) I believe my work does have "visual references in the world." To me, abstraction means it has visual clues, which hark back to real life references. These visual clues are open to interpretation by both creator and viewer. Yesterday's drawing feels right to me. Recently I have not been happy with my representational work. I have found it disturbingly referential, as if its search for meaning is wrong and out of kilter. More later, I am sure.
Drawings from 8/7/2015, all pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Being normal is not easy. The quest to settle into my personal normalcy is upon me, full force. The best I can do is whittle away at the roughness and confusion that clouds my judgement. The muck that comes from eduction, and the many wrong paths I have taken, disturbingly causes me to misbehave. I am working it out. I am optimistic. Time is on my side.
I keep hoping that I will enter the studio and it will spill out of me easy and true. It just does not happen. I do not feel comfortable with yesterday's drawing, but it came from me. As usual, I am struggling to find an authentic way to make form, to compose, to find a narrative, to make art that reflects and inspires me. No way this is simple (no matter how much I wish it so). Is this drawing as muddled and unimportant as I see it at this moment? WTF is that cross doing on that guy's head?
On a more encouraging note: Yesterday I did begin to stretch a new canvas. I believe it will take the larger format of painting, the more sustained manner of self-discovery that is painting, to figure this out.
It feels good to run into this without knowing where it's going. More precisely, I am following the lead of positive intuitive feedback. It is a feedback loop, not unlike one experienced with a microphone and an electrical audio amplifier. It is getting louder and louder, squealing in pleasure and pain. I am "getting real" with myself. If I have learned anything from my recent activity, it is that I enjoy moving my line across invented forms. If this is methodology, it is one of discovery of form through seek and find by line.
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