OK. I am working. This is not a party. This is not fun. It is rewarding and important. Whoever said, without qualification, that "making art is a good time," never made art. I search for authenticity, driven by intellect, emotion, and intuition: two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, et cetera.
Yesterday's drawings continue to look for simplicity, using emotive forms and the artifice of three-dimentional space. "Drawing No.2" is more simple than "No.1", but is "No.2" more emotively clear? I think it is. If yes, then that is success.
I began a new painting. It is the largest I have done in some time — measuring 76 inches in height. This new painting, "2016 No.18", is more simple in form and format than it the previous one, "2016 No.17". Good or bad idea? We shall see. Like any other research endeavor, art-making is about having a lot of ideas. Some ideas will be good, some, not-so-good! It is recognizing quality, then using that quality as a building block, that eventually makes great art.
Lastly, I finished a few final details on the painting "2016 No.17", which I now declare finished. It is reproduced at the end of today's post.
The struggle is on... in yesterday's post I wrote of the impact my seeing a Mark Rothko painting had on me. My painting, "2016 No.17", cannot be moved in the direction of simplification. It is what it is. Yesterday's drawings begin with one containing three objects piled on top of each other. Obvious to me, this is Rothko's influence, emulating the three areas of color in his painting which was reproduced in yesterday's blog post. It ain't easy for me, this struggle with clarity of emotional purpose. Yesterday's drawings, one after the other, are looking for truth in action, but they get more complex, not more simple.
I have been out of the studio for a few days. I have been looking at art, went to a museum, looked at paintings: de Kooning, Picasso, Guston, Rothko, and Gottlieb — those are the ones I immediately remember. They had the largest impact on me. I have been contemplating; where am I? Where should I go? If there is any take-away from what I saw, and what I now know, it is this: I must simplify in order to be clear about emotional impact and engagement. A painting by Mark Rothko struck me very hard (it resembled his painting I reproduce below). Rothko's best paintings are simple, yet emotionally complex. In his brushed, washes of color, I could feel his emotional questions and possible answers. Rothko's painting stood in front of me like a monument, a testament to being here and now. It was an emotional experience, built with paint on canvas. No crap deluded the message. Direct and clear. This is a lesson to me. I will begin a new painting today.
Henri Matisse, where are you? A bit of Matisse's sensibility is in the painting "2016 No.17". Old painters never die, their ideas get stolen and reused! I actually looked at a few of Matisse's paintings before I worked on the curtain-like form on the right edge of "2016 No.17". It helped bolster my conviction. A splendid Matisse painting from 1948 is reproduced at the bottom of today's post.
As mentioned in today's blog post title, the work seen here today is two day's old.
Pattern comes in and I naturally think of Henri Matisse. I ain't no Matisse. That last sentence is a double negative. I am actually influenced by Matisse. Sometimes I emulate his strong consciousness of light, which he interlaces with staccatos of patterns. I write this in anticipation of finishing "2016 No.17" with more pattern. I believe pattern must appear on the greenish curtain-like form that is on the right edge of the painting.
I am enjoying my drawings more and more. This statement comes from a man who is difficult to please. You might have thought I was depressed if you read my blog posts during the last few days. Saying I am enjoying the process indicates an amazingly positive transition for me.
This doing over is instructive, if not painful. The pain of feeling it ain't right, that I don't know enough to get it right, is yucky. Keep on keeping on... that is the route I am taking, as frustrating as it is. I accept the frustration as part of the journey. Looking at my work, in chronological context, reassures me. I know I am moving. If the work was static I would really be worried, I would fear for my sanity. I find the drawings more powerfully mine. This recent painting feels less emotionally connected to me. This must be a measure of facility. I draw connected, I paint with wonder. There is self-identity as I draw. There is a mind awash as I paint. The drawings have one solution; they are done in an hour or two. The paintings go on for days.
I am the opposite of lighthearted. I am troubled. Nothing I am doing pleases me. Everything has problems without obvious solutions. I know I am in the midst of a revolution, an upheaval. This is not comforting. Change is transpiring; change which is not fully controlled. I am riding a bull, hoping to hang on long enough for it to calm down and be manageable.
Should I abandon the painting "2016 No.17"? Or, should I strike at it, forcing it to be more representative of what I know and feel? I think I will strike. That's what revolutionaries do!
Yesterday's drawing is more clearly authentically mine. It does not carry with it the lethargy of acceptance I see in the painting.
There are things about an advanced Van Gogh painting, or drawing, I really like. The representational quality is good, but it is the abstracted visual play which engages me most. While making yesterday's drawings I was occasionally reminded of Vincent Van Gogh's use of line and stroke. As Vincent marked his drawings, and his painting, he thought rhythmically, always cognizant of the overall music within forms and the surfaces of everything, from the three-dimensional quality of the forms themselves to the two-dimensional marks on the surface of the paper or canvas. These drawing's echo Vincent's quality of mark. They make me realize that I am very engaged by the abstraction in his best works. I am constantly involved in similar qualities, but I will not go so far as to say I emulate Vincent Van Gogh's mannerisms.
Be sure you "click" on the images of the drawings — they will enlarge! I think it best to see them them small, then "click." That allows you to perceive different viewing distances, and to experience the different emotional response each distance allows.
Awash? In my painting I continue to have this nagging feeling that I am going places uncharted. Is this sense or nonsense? Thus I use the nonsense word, "awang". It means as much to me as my feeling of "awash." Does this make sense? With mixed emotions comes a question of stiltedness. The process of painting does not feel as fluid as I imagine it should. This is my imagination talking. So what do I know?
Who makes the rules? Not me! Me? Actually its both! This world I am making is according to a confluence and divergence of everything known. Making sense of it is slow, but sure, a day by day activity. This makes me think of Michelangelo, who said on his deathbed, at age 89 years: “I regret...that I am dying just as I am beginning to learn the alphabet of my profession.” I am always beginning. Every time I stand in front of a white piece of paper, or a white canvas, or even a painting or drawing that is in process, I feel so youthfully naive. The more at a loss I am, the better I disarm myself through the process. Disarm is a good word for this process, i.e. if I take it to be the stripping away of weapons and ammunition. I am always protecting myself, looking to keep the fortress intact. I also want to find a way to build the fortress bigger, more substantial. Of course, I am constantly failing because that is NOT what I am doing. I am NOT building something more substantial, I am learning the alphabet that is already here.
The newish painting, "2016 No.17", looks like a reaction to my previous painting, "2016 No.16". "No.17" is working with a limited palette, thus feeling atmospherically involved. This is me questioning the color scheme of "No.16", which allows competition between atmospheric and local color.
I like yesterday's drawings.
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.