Drawings from 11/29/2015, pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
I have surprised myself with new images, and also the joy of laying down graphite on a textured surface. The paper is the same paper used in yesterday's drawing. The images are vastly different. From where come these images? One possible connection: Yesterday a photo was sent to me by a friend (in an email I opened before going to the studio). The photo shows a strange room in Silicon Valley with people walking amongst floating spheres. The spheres are white with black circles on them (the ceiling, floor, and wall are red with black circles). Unlike my drawings, the spheres do not inhabit the people (people are walking among the spheres). Influence? Perhaps. Most important is my product. These drawings are different than anything I have produced in recent memory. They started differently, were processed differently, and ended differently. I am exhilarated by their inventiveness.
A note about today's reproductions: Both drawing are on the same textured paper. The paper's surface color on the first drawing is closer to its actual color. I did not white balance my camera prior to photographing the second drawing, nor did I change the lighting.
I am recovering from the intensity and indulgence of Thanksgiving Dinner, family and friends. Nice! Yesterday I spent some time in the studio, not a lot, but enough to try using a piece of old printmaking paper to support my drawing. It is rougher in texture than my usual paper, also a bit yellow (today's reproduction accurately depicts the paper's subtle yellow surface). The pencil went on differently too, scrapping across the paper's robust texture. It also erased differently, leaving more traces of strokes gone wrong. I returned to an old image. This became an activity filled with déjà vu. (At moments like this I always think of Yogi Berra, who said, "It's déjà vu all over again.") Yes, yesterday was a relaxing day, a gentle return from a big meal and social activity.
Yesterday's drawing: Pretty weird? Consider this: The drawing does show a flying balloon! Maybe I was thinking of that famous parade full of flying balloons, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Probably not. One thing I do know for sure: I have the ability to follow self-suggestive invention. This stuff spills out of me like rain from a dark cloud. Yesterday's drawing celebrates my acquired skills. Failure of technique is no longer an excuse for me. I can do anything I imagine. If I fail it will be a failure of imagination and/or energy.
Drawings from 11/24/2015, both pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Right now I feel that my life, and my art, have too many commas. This may or may not be true. But I feel it. Tis the season of distractions. Some real, because of social engagements and the consequent use of my time. Some emotionally created, because of the relationships I have with friends and family. Until my re-reading of my last blog post I thought I had used too many commas. Now I think not. This is indicative of my confusion.
I continue to surprise myself in the studio. Yesterday's drawings appear bewildering to me. I am unscrambling my life through my art. I would let you know when "I get it," but that is not going to happen. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Today I do some things to prepare. Today I will not have much time in the studio, but I will post something tomorrow.
I spent much of Saturday November 21st looking at, then thinking about, the art of Peter Saul. I saw many of his works, perhaps 30 to 40, at the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vermont. It was a retrospective. A friend, who saw the exhibit with me, later called the work, "tawdry." I have to agree. The other person I saw the exhibit with said, "He is acting out, like a spoiled brat." I also agree with this assessment. If you do not know the work of Peter Saul look at the reproduction of one of his works at the end of this post
This brings me to personal assessment of my work. Yesterday I was tired. I limited my time in the studio. The work came easily, energizing me as I went along. I can say this: it bothers me that I do not make art like anyone else. Henri Matisse said something similar. However, it is the work I must do. My own work fascinates me because it is revelatory.
Times they are a-changing. My revisit to the painting "Beloved" has now made it into the painting "Crazy Love". It is better, more appropriate. You figure that out, because I am working on comprehension as well. Interesting, isn't it? Strange days are here to stay.
Drawings from 11/18/2015, both pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Yesterday... Eyes have it! These drawings are representative of my current methodology. The surprise feels cavernous. I have turned-on a flashlight in a dark cavern. The light beam, radiating from my hand, is an apt analogy. The light goes just a little way, so discoveries take place with every step.
Creativity comes like an itch. It appears, demands attention. Perhaps there is a scientific explanation behind its comings, but not for me to care. The head of the bird is now acceptable. I can also report, for a second or two, I thought I might change the title of "Wowie" to "Alfred". "Alfred" because the silhouette of the man in "Wowie" reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette in the opening of his TV Show, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (see image at end of post).
Drawings from 11/17/2015, both pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Now is the time when nuance is in question. Does the change in the head of the bird in the painting "Wowie" enhance this painting? It is not just the bird's head that has been altered. The silhouette of the man, and the "ground", have also been modified. The alteration in the bird was called for by the alteration in the "ground", which was followed by the change in the silhouette. Of the ground, I am sure. Yes, but does this new bird's head improve the painting? I am questioning my decision because of this reproduction. Yesterday I did the same questioning while in the studio. I altered the bird's head several times, finally arriving at the one shown here. So, should I accept this version as correct? The problem I must answer is this: Can the painting allow this more demanding version of the bird's head? The only way to answer this may be to erase the present bird's head and try again. But, sometimes I walk into the studio, look at a painting and know, "This is good!" Stay tuned.
Yesterday's drawing is definitely a good one.
Invention, surprise, resurrection, Stanley Kubrick, Leo Tolstoy, Abbott and Costello. They all have given meaning to my life. Rumination and self-analysis has been a result. How do I get all of them in my art? There is no easy means or method, so I continue to plug away. Who's on first? The title of yesterday's blog post said, "This is What!", but Abbott said, "What is on second." The play of ins, outs, and betweens of my synapses must be leading me to comprehensive knowing, or not. The drawings shown today are me searching. This is not unusual, but I note it just the same.
FYI: The complete dialogue of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" is transcribed at the end this post.
Drawings from 11/11/2015, both pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Who's on First? by Abbott and Costello
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