I am gladly, and intently, working on two paintings simultaneously: "Flood #1" and "Holding Rock." The approach to each is similar and feels different from "Pulling Onions" or "Pond." No sooner did I establish an identity in publishing an advertising post card than my work takes a turn. It does not matter. It is all me. Each of these paintings are stepping stones to an unknown future of expressive work. This is true, as well, of the multitude of drawings. Yesterday I worked on "Flood #1," which is shown below.
I will not linger here today, as this morning I am taking a class on "Japanese Films" (and for the next six Friday mornings). I will be back tomorrow, and will write about Willem de Kooning and his retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Before you leave, please take a look at the two drawings posted today. These drawings also illustrate an occurring change. As with my painting, my approach, the manner in which I am inventing form and space, is changing as I work.
I have been a loyal fan of the Boston Red Sox. Yesterday's loss, which was the last in an astonishing series of losses in September, has resulted in Boston's failure to proceed into post season play. September was truly miserable for the Red Sox, and all their fans, who patiently watched them fail. My September has been very good. Yesterday I sent to the publisher my advertising post card, with the painting "Pond" on one side and "Pulling Onions" on the other. It will be published on October 19. If you wish a copy, send me an email using the link on my web site, MEHRBACH.com.
In yesterday's blog I posted four drawings, all studies for the new painting, "Holding Rock." Yesterday, in the studio, I made a fifth study, and I began the new painting. At this point "Holding Rock" looks like a drawing. I used only black and white paint for this first sketch on the canvas. I like this start. It is a complex composition, thus the lack of color as I figure out the structure. When I began I thought there would be more room in the painting for landscape-like elements, similar to the last study posted in yesterday's blog. The painting's requirements took over and I gave in. This is wise, but it also leaves the door open for other versions of this idea. Another painting, in early days of process, hangs on my painting wall, "Flood #1." I designated that painting "#1" knowing there will be more versions of the same idea. If I make a second "Holding Rock" I will need to designate the one began yesterday as "#1." More important, I am beginning to bring large abstract forms into my paintings. If you go into my web site, and visit Bio in Pictures, you will see a few of my abstract three-dementional works from early in my career. My newest paintings are bringing back knowledge obtained in earlier efforts. This feels right and good.
I am released from a burden. The painting "Pulling Onions" is complete. I can now move on. Four drawings were made yesterday. All are studies for a new painting. I also stretched a new canvas. Expect the first image of a new painting to be posted tomorrow. The multiple possibilities for the same theme astounds me. These four drawing deal with the same subject, yet they are very different from one another.
The painting "Pulling Onions" has gone the route. I call it complete. I have been obsessed with "Pulling Onions." I needed to get it to a place where I could live with it as representing what I know and feel. It is as good as it gets right here, right now. As I write this I acknowledge imperfection. I also acknowledge the need to move on. Last night I dreamed my next painting. I quick sketched it on a sticky note at 3 a.m.
Yesterday was totally devoted to "Pulling Onions." I spent several hours on the head of the standing man. The result is worth it, as the emotions he radiates are more complex than previous versions. No drawings were made yesterday. Today I am taking a break. I am off to the coast of Maine, warmth and sunshine. Although it is technically Autumn, it is will be sunny and 80°F on the beaches of Maine today.
99.9% done. The painting "Pulling Onions" annoys me in one small detail. I will fix that today. Then it is finished. The reproduction shown today is the best I have shown. I took extra care on this one, as I believed it to be the final version for publication. The detail I want to fix is the standing man's left eye (on viewer's right). There is no such thing as a "perfect" painting, but with one last change "Pulling Onions" is admirably acceptable.
Of the two drawings shown today, the first was a warm-up prior to working on "Pulling Onions," and the second a celebration after I deemed "Pulling Onions" complete.
I was expecting "Pulling Onions" to be finished by today. Nope. It will require at least a couple more days, as the standing man's head is taking more study time than I anticipated. It is the last major form requiring important decisions. It would seem simple, since so much work has been done already, but no, it is the icing on the cake. It has to be right to make the whole thing work. So, I must be careful to push it to its proper end. This means size, shape, emotions, and lighting; all must fit the figure it sits upon, and the composition as a whole.
Yesterday's drawing is interesting, full of finesse, and dialogue between the figures.
I can feel the finish for "Pulling Onions." Very exciting! In anticipation I awoke at 4:30 am. That is about an hour earlier than usual. Yesterday I visited the elements which need to be reviewed before finality is declared. I painted on the head and torso of the standing man. I like what happened, Not perfect, so I will paint again on the same. The standing man's head changed shape, resulting in a more vertical thrust on the right side of the composition. It is better.
In yesterday's blog I showed "Flood #1." Today I show a drawing intended to represent a man and woman running in the wind of a hurricane. My mind is on disasters, natural and manmade. Given the state of our world, this seems appropriate. Recently there have been more than the usual upheavals by both men and nature. Today there is no hurricane, but European and Asian stock markets tumbled this morning, soon to be followed by United States markets. What have we done?
I am a conduit of ideas I can not express with words. This is the mystery. Too often we pretend knowledge can be translated into words. Art books are full of essays which try to explain artists' intensions. Mostly they do not make sense. Making art makes it own sense. The painting "Flood #1" took a step. An interesting drawing was made. That was yesterday.
I began a new painting yesterday: "Flood #1." It is designated as "#1" because I am sure this will the first of a series. For me, this subject is ripe. Flood paintings will allow me to meld abstraction with reality, invention, and expression. I enjoyed the abstraction of "1's" beginning so much that I stopped "phase 1" with simple abstract waves. In this first state, "Flood #1" has great presence. If I felt very bold, I would proceed no further. I would go on to #2. However, I have many questions to answer. I will take a second step today.
Yesterday's drawing was exhilarating, and demanding. It took most of my day to complete. I believed it finished several times. Repeatedly I put it on my wall to photograph, saw flaws, took it back in hand, and corrected the flaws. This went on for a few hours. I knew this was an important drawing, a turning point. Perhaps it was a "relief" drawing, coming off the intensity, and frustrations, of finishing the painting "Pulling Onions." In any case, it is an excellent drawing, and larger than normal drawing at 14 X 11 inches (most of my drawings are on 9 X 12 inch paper).
The painting "Pulling Onions" is not finished. It is solved. This means I need one more day on it. I will wait for the recently applied paint to dry. I will finish it later this week.
Yes, the painting "Pulling Onions" looks like it will be completed. It had me worried. I feel much different today than I did yesterday. There is relief surrounding me. I feel like beginning a new painting. Upon close introspection of "Pulling Onions" you will see refinement in the onions themselves. This is a sign of my finally being able to concentrate on the clean-up of minor elements. Yesterday's major changes were to the central forms of the painting: the vertical zig-zag of the hand - arm - hand - arm of the two figures. The bent over figure's left arm and hand (on viewer's right) are completely new.
Yesterday's warm-up drawing was inventive and fun in execution, if not cartoonish.
My art has moved itself toward personal myth. I worry about this as much as I worry about everything, from composition to form to color. My influences are various, from Picasso to Francis Bacon to Balthus to Van Gogh to Matisse to Giacometti to Paul Gauguin to Willem de Kooning to Arshile Gorky, and many more. Not all the mentioned artist explore "personal mythology." Although I could argue that even the most abstract artist is exploring his personal myths. Paul Gauguin made his best paintings when he was thinking mythologically. I have never shown his paintings in this blog before. Let me do that today to reinforce my thoughts about my exploration of personal mythology. I feel most connected to Gauguin's mythological work. I will show you two works by Gauguin. The most famous of his allegorical works is “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” (Museum of Fine Art, Boston). I will also show you a reclining nude with a reference to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. I like the second painting, entitled "Noble Woman," more than the celebrated "Where Do We...."
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