There is this human desire to "get there." It isn't going to happen. Each drawing, each work of art, is just a stepping stone along a path leading to no particular place, but a place of firmer knowledge then where I am right now. In other words, as I wrote yesterday, I am being swept down a funnel, and a vast sea awaits me, but I shall always be in the funnel. Perhaps "the funnel" is, therefore, a poor analogy. Instead of getting squeezed, I am opening up. I am, however, slipping and sliding, stripping out the misdirections. The funneling process is me allowing myself to be frictionless. I am allowing the fall, I am allowing myself to be swept away by the flood. The funnel is the narrowing of accepted truths. The water of the flood is the enormous amount of relevant knowledge.
Yesterday produced two interesting drawings. The first feels traditional, yet is high in quality. The forms are extremely well felt. The second is about space, and using the human head as a round form, compositionally moving the viewer in and out of the picture plane while simultaneously designing the two--dimensional rectangle. This interest of mine, the 3-D versus the 2-D, brings me back to Cezanne. To make my point, two Cezanne Still-Life paintings are shown after my work. The first is just apples, like human heads running across the page. The second Cezanne is much more complex, powerful in its forms, rhythms, color, and spatial play. The technical finesse of this painting is as demanding as anything achieved by another master of three-dimensional rendering, Pablo Picasso. I have a feeling I will soon make a Still-Life painting myself.
Yesterday's art art-making time was limited. One interesting drawing was the result. It continues my acceptance of the figure and all its wonderful appendages, its major and minor forms, as the capital I draw upon to compose. I do not think I am limited by the figure, nor do I think I will limit myself to the figure. As I get better at this I will feel more comfortable making images as far afield as still-lifes, landscapes, and possibly a return to three-dimensional abstraction. The possibilities of expressive means is only limited by my natural, intuitive sense of form making and composition. I am, indeed, being swept down a funnel into the vast sea of inquiry and knowledge that is myself.
I am in the midst of developing a method of approach which will allow me to explore the ideas, the questions, the mysteries, the stresses, and the exhilarations of my existence. I am finding I can do this without grand allegorical or metaphorical imagery. The theme needs no mythology; it simply is my understanding and my uncertainty. The expression is my exploration of the complications of living. The instruments of exploration need only be form, composition, color, value, space, and line. Pencil and paper, paint and canvas, are the media. So this is how I have fallen back upon the images you see today, the standard couple, a man and a woman. These are like apples, or bathers, were to Cezanne! Repetitive images can express the depth of me without the invention of personal mythology. After my drawings I leave you with two works by Paul Cezanne, a still life with apples, and a painting of bathers. Enjoy!
These drawings are me practicing, showing up, like a distance runner, day by day, putting in the miles. I am preparing myself for the paintings, which I see as the true test of sustainability. I am putting in the effort; I am researching, feeling I am practicing the proper approach.
Today I show work that came naturally. I dropped the pretense of being a man of knowledge and history and simply followed my natural impulses. My life and art are coming together because I am stripping away the burden of knowing more than is necessary. Take a look at yesterday's drawings, then return and read more comments.
Yesterday's discoveries brought me back to Egon Schiele. I know, I just wrote of my stripping away knowledge of history in an effort to get to my natural impulses. Well, this is different. I returned to looking at Schiele because my working methods remind me of his work. I realized my youthful love of Schiele's work was based upon its simplicity of image and its simplicity of technical objectives. Schiele loved the human figure, he loved to draw, and he loved to invent while drawing. That fits me, exactly. I have been making a false effort toward mythology and metaphor, when all I need is to draw. I hang my hat on the human figure, and human physiognomy, because I love these forms so much, but foremost I love to draw! I also love the wonder of expression through composition. Schiele expressively composed through the linear invention of form. This is also my most basic impulse. I feel as if I left these natural impulses on the side lines as I developed my ability to draw. I am back! I have returned from a journey of thought, and rudimentary exploration, to make my art. This journey, out into the desert of ideas, has not been wasted. It was necessary for me to explore and assimilate the basic fundamentals of art in order to return to make the real stuff.
Now to Egon Schiele: First shown is a Nude Self-Portrait. The background is bare, so the expression is through linear invented form expressively composed by angular thrusts of torso and limbs; simplicity with complexity. Wow! Immediately following this drawing I show a detail of the head. Look at the expression because of the exploration of the line looking for form. This method intricately communicates emotional complexity to the viewer. After Schiele's Self-Portrait I show another drawing of his, a couple; then a painting, a portrait. In both the space is indicated, but not specific. The viewer knows the couple is on the floor, and the subject of the portrait painting is sitting; that's all we know, and it is all we need to know, because the form, the line, the paint, the color, and the surface, is so damn expressive. Wow, again!
Today I am spending my time with my family. I will not write more than a few bare bone thoughts. Two drawings were made yesterday, both in quest of expressive animation of the entire page. You can see my effort to pay attention to all the elements of art, from form to composition. Recently I have mentioned Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky as role models. Today I am thinking of Alberto Giacometti. Giacometti is on my short list of important influences. As example, I show a couple of Giacometti's works. I am much more captivated by the first of these two Giacometti's. This indicates that I am most interested in composition and form, more than the human figure. The human figure appears in both of Giacometti's works, but in the first the figure is subordinate to whole.
Change is upon me. Acceptance is upon me. I am in the midst of stripping away preconceptions, leftovers from too much education. Sense in art-making is internal, a reaction to the external. Truth and authenticity are offsprings of simplicity. Complexity is a result of the intricacy of knowledge, an offspring of simplicity of action. A New Year is close at hand, and with this New Year (not because of it) my art will blossom with greater clarity. I know this because I feel it. Yesterday's drawing moved in this direction; the direction of acceptance, simplicity, and clarity. In yesterday's drawing there are only two figures (simple), but they are complex in form. I did not seek complexity, it is (as stated earlier) a by-product of acting with simple intentions. In my current presence, two artists are foremost in my mind: Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky. In yesterday's blog post I displayed two drawings by Willem de Kooning, today I show you two by Arshile Gorky. Please, look at these drawings for their quality of discovery made real and raw. In this case, raw has the dictionary definition of "not analyzed, evaluated, or processed for use." It is what it is. This is happening to my work too. I am in the process of learning to accept making my art without contemporaneous evaluation.
Acceptance should not be so difficult. I have written here about metaphor, myth, and allegory, but this has been misleading. I am interested in those things, but I am first, and foremost, an artist who wishes to express through the technical and abstract means of drawing and painting. I have often wondered: Why do I so often use the human couple as an image? I am beginning to believe it is for the same reason Willem de Kooning used the female nude. My primary impetus in making art is not to explore couples and their interactions. The couple is my fallback image. This simple image allows me to tinker with expression using marks on paper, paint on canvas, composition, light and form. I am expressing myself with the elements of art, rather than invented images. In short, I wish to make art with the simplest means available, using paints, pencil, canvas and paper. The images I use are just racks I hang my hat on.
The images shown today, drawings from yesterday, continue my squeezing a couple into the frame. Again, they are shown in "true color" (the paper's color is especially apparent in the drawing shown below). After my drawings I give you three drawings by Willem de Kooning, each a female nude used as a means, but not the end. From me, expect the same: images are the means, not the end. I love to draw, as did Willem de Kooning, but both of us have a lot more in our arsenals of expression than the image, obviously.
There is an article in the January 2012 issue of The Smithsonian. Wow. It tells of Gertrude and Leo Stein, and how they collected early 20th century art. More important to me is the idea of their collecting Picasso and Matisse, just when these artists needed it. Picasso and Matisse were forging new ideas in art and needed support. The Stein's gave it to them, not just with money, but with encouragement. I am on my own out here, yet I know it is time to push my edges, to strip away and allow the forces which drive me to compel my art. These days of holidays do not allow me the time I need to do this, but there will soon be time enough. I can feel the burst a-coming.
The two drawings I made yesterday tell a little of this moving story, of me gathering the resources to do the big burst. Stay tune.
A long time ago I promised I would show everything I did in the studio, "good, bad, and ugly." Yesterday produced one drawing. I am very unsure if that drawing has quality worth showing. There are some playful parts to it, like the forehead, where I decided to scribble the line in many directions to produce the surface and its subtle undulations of form and light. Perhaps there is something worthwhile here; in any case, I can attest to discontent with my behavior. When I am in "the art-making groove" I rise above the actual making of the art; I feel my way through the activity, as if I am not part of it, but an observer of wonders unraveling in front of me. Composition, form, and light go through their journey, of questions and answers, without me being involved in a quantifiable, or verbally conscious, manner. This did not happen in this drawing. It did not feel good. Making this drawing felt awkward.
Nothing is going to happen in the studio today. My son is coming home for the Holidays. I am off to pick him up at the airport. Then we'll spend the rest of the day catching up.
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