Returning to the studio is always way more interesting than I am prepared for. By this I mean there is trepidation about a return after an extended absence, especially after the holidays when making-art is remote. I spend all my time with friends and relatives. The holidays are joyous and distracting. Distracting would be the most correct adjective if I thought art-making is the most important aspect of my life. But art-making is not the most important aspect of my life. Art-making allows me to live with the fears and questions which make my life full of self doubt, anxiety, and apprehension. Being with people, especially during celebratory times (when everyone is mostly positive), deflects wonderfully. For hours at a time I actually stopped worrying! There is another result that is constructive and worthwhile: During my off-time from art-making I gathered creative energy which allowed me to understand more clearly my basic abilities and the reasons I make art ― this allowed me to enter the studio yesterday with greater understanding of my authentic visual voice.
I did not expect this, so it will probably surprise you too. Tis the season of surprises, but that has nothing to do with the transition that has occurred in the painting Untitled-11·27·2013... or does it? This holiday season brings with it uneven and sporadic times in the studio, so there is more time to think, and be uncomfortable, between my times of making-art. During the in-between times I am constantly going over the problems I am trying to solve in the studio. This painting, which is "new and completely different", is a result. Right on!
I know you are going to find this astonishing, but I actually believe it is true. Yesterday's drawing has opened a reality that will impact my painting. You will see this first in my most recently begun painting Untitled-11·27·2013. Hopefully I will see it happen today and you will see it in tomorrow's blog post. The word used in the title for today's post, "rip", is appropriate because that's exactly what I did to this canvas when I last altered it (I so enthusiastically scraped off a layer of paint that I ripped a hole in the canvas ― not to worry: I duct taped it closed→hah!). So what's happening? Well it feels this way: Yesterday's drawing came quickly between holiday preparations; as often happens, one's ability to concentrate goes up when time is limited and one is highly aware of the task which must be completed in the limited time that is available. I went right to the core of the problem, and to the solution. The result hit a major chord in me, a chord that sang honestly and true. You may not see it in this drawing (that's the reason I tell you I feel it). Let me make one more stab at clarifying the reason I feel this insight: This is about my basic impulse to make art. I want to organize my deepest confusions, and the incontrovertible notions, of my existence. I have a deep need to illuminate this dichotomy of knowing, so I make art. In yesterday's drawing I found lucidity in its organization. This insight into the expressive richness of organization will now impact my painting. The head of the man in Untitled-11·27·2013 will be scrapped away and replaced. The priority of organization of the picture as translator of my internal queries has, through yesterday's drawing, come to the forefront. I will try NOT to rip another hole in may painting.
I wish I could offer you an explanation for the low level of substantial inquiry in yesterday's work. I have been miffed by the distractions of storms and holidays. There have been two snow storms since my last post ― the first was a big one, laying down about 8 inches of snow. The second, smaller and not as demanding, required only an hour to clean up. You see, I am the snow shoveler here. This brings me to my query. Is yesterday's version of Untitled-11·27·2013 better than its previous version? I have my doubts, but it is what it is. I will move it forward from here. I have this sad feeling that you and I will not see big leaps in my deciphering my psyche and the mysterious stimulus which causes me to fillip forward until this holiday season is over. I am also hoping for clear weather. It is sunny and 1°F right now.
The efficacy of the daily venture is the meaning of today's title. The freehand drawing of a straight line is as difficult as unravelling reality through the enterprise of art-making ― neither comes out straight and clean. They zig and they zag (perhaps less so with more practice), but the zig and the zag will always be there. I wish there was a gauge with a pointer, and it hit "reality" when one is making art genuine and true. Since there is none, the wandering, the acceptance of the zig and zag will continue. I do enjoy the process. It's like reading a mystery novel.
All of this is prelude to me telling you that yesterday was a good day in the studio. I write the blog so you and I can follow the zigs and the zags as I seek the true center of the target. Disclaimer: the center of the target will never be hit! However, I did get a little closer to that proverbial center yesterday. Yesterday both my painting, and my drawing, exuded authenticity while in process. That was a good feeling! I will go back for more of it, but not today. Today I will do other things, including getting my home ready for the holidays and the wonderful visitors we shall have.
It may not be surprising to you, but it hit me hard. I used Pure Cadmium Orange, right out of the tube: no dilution, no addition of white or any other color! "Why", you may ask, "is this revolutionary?" Well, it hasn't happened before. I am a mixologist by nature. I am not saying this is the beginning of the downfall of mixology, but it is an important step. It will speed my problem solving. The hues on the man's head will not be found in pure, out of tube, paint. The myth goes that Vincent van Gogh discovered the same solution, then his work took off in new and more expressive directions (perhaps this happened to Vincent in 1888, the year his work matured to extreme expression → see his "Willows at Sunset" at the end of today's post. FYI: his famed "Starry Night" came in 1889).
There are days, like yesterday, when I am motivated to research a particular problem. These particular problems often take me away from art-making. I seem to examine the way I place a nose on a face, or set an eye-ball in the head. This totally distracts me from the reason I am there. I am not there to be a technician, although being a technician is required of an artist. In any case, yesterday's drawing #1 (below) feels completely awkward to me (I shelved it immediately). Drawing #2 is better ― it was a reaction to the dismal failure I felt when finishing off #1. I did stretch the large canvas I have told you about. Now I have a 60X72 inch canvas waiting for a new painting. That feels good.
Yesterday's work came from me without self-criticism. That is rare and good (thus the title of today's post). I need more days like that, i.e. days of making art without self-doubt. This goes to the old idiom: "One should act the in the manner one wishes to act."
I feel like I have hit a dead end. Maybe that term "dead end" is wrong. I am not dead, nor is my art. The problem is me finding significant meaning beyond that which I already know. Yes, the forms, light, line, surface, and composition ― all are getting better, and continue to become more meaningful as they gain clarity, bit by bit ― very slowly... BUT the big WOW, and a revelation of "Oh, that's it!", has not been present for a few days. It is time to stretch up a major canvas and prepare myself for a major work, a transforming work.
I just came from the studio (had to turn up the heat for the day). In the studio I looked at yesterday's drawing and I was very happy. It claims the viewer with its light, line, surface and composition. Visually it sings well. Returning to this page, to post it here, gives frustration. Not that this drawing looks terrible here, but it does not come close to engaging the viewer in the way the original does. This drawing is rather large (16X20 inches) and the various grays of its pencil lines captivatingly play with one another. It is a grand symphony of value, form, light, and line. Audiophiles complain about digital reproduction of music. Well, reproduction is far worse for the fine visual arts.
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