I begin today's post showing a slightly scary drawing; today is Halloween. Yesterday was a good day in the studio. The painting "Four at the Table," continues to move me to new places. Yesterday's first drawing was a humdrum practice drawing, but it was followed by a drawing of three guys who seem to have encountered something disagreeable.
I continue to be a slave to my internal machine. One day the act of making art flies from with extreme facility connected to that which I know and feel, the next day I struggle to find meaning in my work. Yesterday's first drawing felt awkward from the get-go. While making it I felt displaced. I continued to work on it because I believe in wisdom greater than my intellect and emotions. So I made this drawing, disconnected from my consciousness. I believe this type of drawing is me accepting a lesson as a necessary task; there is something within me asking me to practice a skill. In the case of drawing #1 (below), I practiced making heads, examining my skill in carving out their details. I did not find great enjoyment in making this drawing, but it did lead me to drawing #2 (above). Because of #1, #2 came more directly, with greater spontaneity. Who knew?
That's right, it is not the best attribute if one wishes to live a simple life. If one has disciplined oneself into being a problem solver, every problem requires resolution. Yesterday I discovered my laptop was not printing properly. I spent a good portion of the morning unravelling the problem, first online, then with a live phone call to Apple Customer Care. The problem is not resolved, but I did find an alternative solution. You do not need to know this. I am trying to voice the impediment of being a disciplined problem solver. As one acts in this manner stuff gets solved, life seems more intelligible, but is the quality of life a good one? I seem to always be in the act of problem solving; sitting still and calm is a rarity. There are simply so many problems to solve. This is where making art comes in. It melds together contemplation with problem solving. When making art I do feel calm, and outside of the mundane. Art centers me on the precious qualities of living. Yesterday's one drawing is a good one. I wanted to return to work on the painting "Four at the Table," but the mundane printing problem preoccupied me. This was not a good thing.
Yesterday I entered the studio with doubts about the painting "Four at the Table." I entered the studio in the afternoon, after I spending the morning watching the 3+ hour movie "The Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa. Wow. The movie reminded me that great art is profound because the subject is elegantly displayed, and not because the subject itself is profound. There is nothing incredibly new and revelatory in "The Seven Samurai," yet one leaves it with great satisfaction. It is about love, camaraderie, combatting evil, the community being more important than the individual, and the triumph of those who understand the common mistake of the combative and competitive to allow emotions to dominate intelligence. The subject of "The Seven Samurai" is often repeated in novels and movies, as is the nude in drawing and painting (witness Edgar Degas' Nudes as displayed in this blog on 10/27/2011). However, "The Seven Samurai," and the best Nudes by Degas, speak more profoundly than most of the rest of similarly themed art. Yesterday I dispelled some of my doubts about my own direction. Can I make a painting of four people at a table and satisfy myself and the viewer? Yes I can. The excellence of yesterday's two drawings prove this. Their quality separates them from my normal work. They are profound because of the manner in which they are made, not because of the subject matter.
Risk is on! This kind of painting is not without question and fear. I do no where it is going. It is not safe, as it may go no where. Going no where is not wasting my time. Within the struggle I am learning the way to behave. There is exhilaration in making this newest painting, "Four at the Table." Does this approach make sense? Yesterday's drawing preceded the painting with its conservative approach, truly a practice drawing. I am not in love with this painting. I have thrown myself into it. It feels like being in quicksand. Its survival means I must figure a way out of its problems as they present themselves.
The ground supports us, and holds the beginning and the end of truth, but our intellects confuse us. Seeing it is not the problem, interpreting it correctly is the problem. As explanation I go back to the premise of Akira Kurosawa's film "Rashoman." The same event is seen by four people, and each tells a different version. Recently I have been looking at my past through my art (you can share this with me at my Pictorial History web page). Are all my works different versions of the same ground? Yesterday I promised to write about the exhibition of the Nudes of Edgar Degas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Degas did what I am doing. He repeated his subject over and over. Degas got better at expressing himself. I show three of his works, all produced well into his artistic maturity. The later work is most expressive; it does away with all but the essentials. As Degas matured he abandoned strict anatomical interpretation for expression. I am doing the same. The painting "Four at the Table" is an example; it unfolds in front of us. Version #2 is shown today.
It is both! New ideas are breaking through and old ideas are acting as a foundation. Yesterday I began a new painting. It looks like a revolution, but if you scrutinize my past work you can see wherefrom these ideas spring. I have been documenting my past work on my website, MEHRBACH.com, in the new set of web pages entitled Pictorial History. Please wait until later this evening to look at my Pictorial History because several new pages, and many new images, will be uploaded to the site later today, at 6 pm EDT.
Today I am just going to allow you, and I, to look without further comments. I did visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Monday 10/24/2011. I spent two hours viewing the exhibit "Degas and the Nude." Tomorrow I will write about the impact Degas' work, which spanned his entire working life, had upon me.
BTW, the new painting is entitled, "Four People at the Table." And, I forgot to sign and date yesterday's drawing.
I have been spending a lot of time reviewing my life as an artist. I am preparing for a major marketing campaign. Consequently I am revising my website, MEHRBACH.com. The section called "Pictorial History" is under construction. It is coming together with much reflection from me about my life and my art. I will not upload the latest version until late Wednesday 10/26/2011, so you will have to wait for the pictorial details. However, the images are deep and growing. I did not anticipate the benefits of this reflection. It has overwhelmed me with information. I have allowed it to consume much of my time. I am learning about clearly defined periods of my life, and the manner in which my art-making reflects the moments of my life. The revelations are in my attitude. I am seeking ground, a way to be aware of who I am at any given instant. This reflective process has been distracting me from my present art-making. I did make three drawings yesterday. Their imagery increases my direction toward dream-like abstraction.
I stretched a 50 X 60 inch canvas, preparing it for the new painting. Am I prepared? Yesterday's drawing was one more in a series of preparation drawings for the new painting. I am allowing forms to be abstract compositional elements which stray a bit from strict structural reality, like the feet and legs of the man on the left, or that little guy's ballooned torso. I am exhausting myself in two other ways as well: (1) Constructing a Pictorial History of my art on my website, MEHRBACH.com, and (2) Constructing my advertising campaign, with preparations for my visit to New York City galleries in November. It is almost too much.
Yesterday's drawings are research drawings. I am preparing for my next painting. The first drawing was began, and finished, yesterday. The second drawing was begun on 10/18/2011, and finished yesterday. The first drawing is more instructive in its preparation for the new painting I will begin today. The second drawing is not fully successful, and will be filed away immediately. The important research idea, in the both drawings, is the preeminence of abstraction in form making. These drawings exude form decisions based upon composition rather than representation. This is an important concept, which I need to nurture. If I learned anything from Philip Guston, my mentor for two years (September 1977- June 1979), it is the importance of compostion as the imperative engagement mechanism. Composition captures the viewer. The payoff, the visual satisfaction, is provided by the quality of the form, color, light, and surface.
Yesterday also saw a large revision to my website, MEHRBACH.com. Check it out. The biggest change is the new "Pictorial History" pages, which are under construction. The website acts as a clearing house for my best work. This blog shows everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Usually I have been showing you my work in order of its production. Which rarely works well for me, or for you, as the best work is nearly never the first work of the day. Today I show yesterday's best drawing first. Today's post has another curiosity: drawing #2 is missing. Yesterday I worked on three drawings, but #2 went through major revisions at the end of the day, with me erasing large parts of it. Today I will correct it and will post it here tomorrow. I am keeping my words brief because today is the day I will spend time uploading new pages to my web site MEHRBACH.com. I also want to begin a new painting.
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.