In my last post (11/28/2011) I showed you a "Photoshopped" alteration of a drawing. Today I begin with the result of my revision to that drawing. This is an image of the actual, unaltered drawing, in its final version. It is much better. It is one of my best! This drawing exudes my comprehension of composition as the instigator of expression, both for me and for the viewer. It also proves to me that I am an abstract artist at heart. My work grows from the qualities predominant in the best abstraction, which (in my opinion) includes multiple qualities working together, simultaneously. These include color, composition, contrast, surface, form, line, and light. The latter quality, light, corroborates the reason I am so blown away by the work of Willem de Kooning. His work, more than most "Abstract Expressionists," uses light as a core property. This is also true of work of Mark Rothko, and especially true of the work of my teacher and mentor, Philip Guston (some labelled Guston's abstract paintings as "Abstract Impressionist").
After spending over an hour re-stretching the canvas of the painting "Balancing," I returned to it with new vigor. It is coming along, but I am moving along too. A new painting is imminent, I feel it like one feels rain is about to fall. I am not sure where my work is going. At this moment I am enjoying the mystery. I am beginning to trust in the process. I am making "early work." I always wondered why Picasso left so many of his "early works" with unfinished passages. Picasso left them unfinished because he was where I am now. I am developing too quickly to finish off works which feel stale compared to the leading-edge ideas springing forth in the newest works.
The one drawing I began and finished yesterday is shown at the bottom of today's post. Yes, it is good. Enjoy!
The drawing shown above has been "photoshopped" to remove a hand (on an outstretched arm of the central man) which resided to the right of the woman's head. Once again my blogging helped me make a work of art better. If it were not for my need to photograph and post everything, I would not have seen that the hand was distracting and unnecessary. So the image you see above is "not the real thing." First item on my agenda today will be removal of the hand in the real drawing; tomorrow (for accuracy's sake) I will post a real image of this drawing. For me, this is an important drawing. I began it with a compositional impulse, three ovals reacting to one another as they crossed the page. This drawing displays my current dedication to "composition first." I feel this drawing is a pivotal work, a turning point. It does much of what I love most about art: it plays with human emotions with the forms and composition supporting its objective.
Below I show the first drawing made yesterday. It too began with a compositional impulse. It is good, but I like the second drawing (above) better. In yesterday's post I mentioned the difference between my recently purchased paper, "Stonehenge White," and the paper I found tucked away in my attic, which is the cream version of "Stonehenge," actually called "Stonehenge Warm White." The drawing below is shown in its actual "color." If you compare it to the drawing at the top of this post, which is on "Stonehenge White," you will see the difference in the two paper's color. Interestingly, the emotional warmth of the single head is enhanced because of the paper's warm color.
Yesterday I was planning to paint on "Balancing," but found the canvas extremely loose. I tried a quick fix, but it remained loose and flappy. Today I must remove the canvas from the stretcher, and re-stretch it from scratch. Unfortunately this is a big effort (it is a large painting), and also today is "Money Monday." Plus I have an appointment this afternoon. I hope I get something done in the studio so I can post tomorrow. Oh, yes, in the least I will correct and post the drawing shown on top of today's post.
Yes. It is good to be back in the studio. No painting yesterday, but I am getting closer to being in full gear again. Traveling, and selling one's wares, takes a toll on energy and emotional balance. So does normal life, but in a different way, since the haven of the studio is available in "normal" life. In any case, while in New York City I visited a branch of Utrecht Art Supplies (my primary art supply dealer). I had one objective: to find the paper I enjoy using for my drawings. Most of the drawings you have seen here have been made on inexpensive Strathmore Bristol paper, which come in pads. Somewhere around a month ago I pulled out the relatively expensive 100% cotton printmaking/drawing paper I had used years ago. I found I could do much more subtle work on it than I could on the harder surfaced Strathmore Bristol, but only a few sheets of the high quality paper remained. I had forgotten its name, so I brought a sample of it to the Utrecht Art Supply store. A clerk at the store immediately recognized the paper as "Stonehenge." The paper comes in two shades: "cream" and "white." When I compared my sheet to the new paper I found I had used the "cream" version before, but I now know I enjoy "white" much more. I bought twenty-five 30 X 44 inch sheets. Since my recent drawings tend to be 11 X 14 inches, I will cut each sheet into eight drawing sheets. This should last me a while! The two drawings below were made on this new paper. The first drawing exhibits the range and subtlety of line, and value, these sheets afford my technique. The second drawing is a bit grosser in attack, and really did not need paper of this quality. The drawings shown here today continue my introspective approach to compositional primacy. The first drawing simply dropped from me like rain, without any particular concentration on composition. Therefore, I began the second drawing thinking composition first, believing all the other stuff will follow, i.e. form, value, tone, and light will willingly follow the soundly composed image. I am not going to tell you I was extremely successful, but I will say the practice is good for me, and my art. Good works will come from it.
I am back in Lyme, New Hampshire. I was here for Thanksgiving Day, but did not get into the studio until yesterday. First came a little clean up, then two drawings. While in New York City I spoke to several art gallery directors, including Ivan Karp of O.K. Harris. He and I had a good conversation, as we remembered mutual acquaintances in the NYC art scene of the 1970's and 80's. A couple of days after my visit Mr. Karp wrote me the following email:
"Greetings CM, Thank you for visiting the gallery. The images on your site demonstrate a fierce and fascinating take on humanity. Unfortunately the work is rather remote from what we choose to exhibit. I wish you success in finding the right exhibitor. Cordially, Ivan C. Karp"
This appears to be a dismissal notice, but I am not going to take it as such. I will write Mr. Karp, and every other gallery director I met while in NYC, who I believe should show my art in their galleries. While in New York City my activity with galleries was important, but the greatest impact on me, as an artist, was seeing the Willem de Kooning Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Willem de Kooning's compositional awareness struck me as immensely important to my work. I have been so very involved in exploring form that I have let composition become secondary, and this is clearly backward; it is a retrograde manner of making art. Willem de Kooning declares (along with every artist shown in the Museum of Modern Art) that composition is king. Composition is the first thing you encounter when you see a work of art. Then comes form, color, light, subject matter, metaphor, technique, et cetera, et cetera. With this in mind I made yesterday's second drawing, shown immediately below. The struggle to compose with purpose is the great animator of art. With this I return to my studio.
I'm here! I said I would post yesterday as I took the bus down to NYC, but the internet connection in the bus was so slow and dreary that it did not happen. I will not write much today; I am off to market my work. I must post the one drawing made on 11/17/2011 (this is, after all, an ALL inclusive narrative of my art). I will report again after my return to studio.
My visit to New York City is preoccupying me. I will pack today, and leave tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. Yesterday I updated my website, MEHRBACH.com. The Pictorial History pages have become quite rich in content. The exercise of constructing these pages has been good for me. Most rewarding is the revelation of the quality of the work during the last five years. One forgets. Take a look at the page showing work from 2005 through 2010. None of the Pictorial History pages are complete, but they give you a flavor of my work's development through time. Besides visiting galleries, and looking for a proper venue for my work, I want to see the "Willem de Kooning Retrospective" at the Museum of Modern Art and the "Georges Braque: Pioneer of Modernism" exhibit at Acquavella Galleries.
Yesterday was a low-key day in the studio with just two drawings, each practicing my craft with no particularly interesting insight. Today will probably be much the same. I will post tomorrow while on the bus to New York City. After tomorrow's post you will probably not see another post from me until Thanksgiving morning (11/24/2011).
Making art is not a straight line toward self expression. I wish it were. I wish life was easy. Instead, we struggle. Rewards obtained through struggle are sweet. No argument, but doubts remain, and are painful. As the painting "Balancing" moves, and changes, I ask many questions. Does it have a valid connection to me and my self-expression? No answer. I must continue on my jagged line, hoping the zig zag effort will end with something that feels right.
Yesterday was the financial day around here (Money Monday). It was more intensive than usual. I will be in New York City this Friday (11/18/2011) through Tuesday (11/22/2011), so I had to look forward and spend a good portion of the day doing it. I did get into the studio for one drawing, and it is a good one, displaying fun and expression in form, line, and facial features. It continues my research toward an approach which will allow me to better present my own peculiar view of this existence.
The painting "Balancing" continues its development. Over the last couple of days it has "taken off." I have many ideas on where it must go, including these two items: (1) the woman's head has to lie down (increasing the diagonal compositional recurrences from bottom right to top left), and (2) the fish has to include a portion of his body below the water line (he now looks like a boat). Besides "Balancing," my drawing is also in rapid development. My friend Dick Schellens mentioned the sometimes disconnect between body language and facial language. As usual, his astute comments point out a concern of mine which I am currently making an effort to reconcile. In my 11/11/2011 post, entitled "Details," I wrote of this concern. The drawing shown that day was the beginning of an intensive effort to make facial expression more expressive, and more appropriate. The post of 11/11/2011 preceded my conversation with Dick Schellens. Dick had not seen that post or that drawing. This makes his comment, on his desire to see more expressive details in the facial expressions of my figures, even more startling and astute. Yesterday's drawing continues my efforts in exploration of strategies to make the details of facial expression more relevant to the emotional articulation of my drawings and painting.
The painting "Balancing" is beginning to reveal itself, and through its revelation I am learning more about my own, personal process. This process is not quick and dirty, though I wish it was. Today is one of those days when I have little to say because I am in the middle of divulgence, which so occupies me as to preclude verbal understanding. My intuition is ahead of my verbal knowledge.
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