Imagery is a problem, so why not begin with abstract images and create a reality unto itself? This seems reasonable. Yesterday I took the plunge. It makes sense to me. My figurative work was severely limited by the figure itself. The forcefulness of the formal qualities of art were begging to be more widely explored. Feeling emotionally confined is not good for the soul, nor for the art.
The last two nights I have had dream, after dream, after dream.
Two nights ago it was about a new kind of art, toward abstraction, in search of a new manner of emotional conversation. It was still formal in its compositional solidity. I saw myself setting up the image on the canvas with raw, three-dimensional forms, not precluding natural forms, but working with and against nature. It was me searching for emotional images. I wanted the viewer to deeply feel that which I feel.
Last night it was about being lost. I was back in high school, thrown out somewhere in Los Angeles, far, far from home, without money, without identification. I was not lost. I needed to create a means to return to school because I was expected to announce a basketball game.
Lost I am. In search I am. I am about to return to the studio with a mandate. That which I have done in 2014 is merely a transition (as always!). The year 2014 saw me moving myself out of my confusion toward acceptance that authentication requires a new way seeing. I have to create a means of getting home to myself. My dreams have given me clarity and strength. I can do this! I am about to make art that does not fully resemble the stuff I did in 2014. This new direction requires a greater embrace of abstraction. That, it appears, is the only way I will adequately express myself. Obvious it is!!!
It has been a couple days since I made the drawing that is posted today. This drawing is about confusion. Tis the season of confusion ― I am caught between art and family. I love both, I enjoy participation in both. The remarkable thing about this drawing is its creation was not content conscious; it spilled out of me with its literalness, which is, "being caught in-between!" That is where I am going to be for the next few days. Family will dominate. I am counseling myself, and you (my readers), not to expect much in art-production for several days.
As usual, I expect my full return to art-making will come with great energy. This full return will happen in 5 or 6 days. Giving up my dedicated involvement comes with discomfort. Right now I am full of ideas. I am actively breaking down the barriers that have separated me from the art that is gigantically mine. Family and friends have reassured me that this once a year distraction will not harm my ongoing research and development. Still, it is very difficult for me to be patient. I must give into Leo Tolstoy's wisdom: "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."
One to the next, continuation, carry on... that's all there is!
The question, "Is it right?", will forever be unanswered. My job is to keep seeking, to make a consistent effort to be true to myself during the moments of creation, and to keep looking for truth and deceptions. I must nurture the truth. That's all there is to this art-making.
Yesterday's drawing was a stab at the satisfaction I am seeking. I made the forms, and the composition, with little fanfare, little criticism, and a lot of asking, "Does this feel good?" Yes, it does! I like the forms, I like the punctuations of dark values which animate the passage of light through the composition. It is this play of values, this light versus dark punctuation on forms, that creates the artifice of light, that I very much enjoy. The reference to natural forms may, or may not, be important. I am researching this, but at this time I have no definitive answer... "To reference natural forms or to create my own?" Perhaps the sweet spot for me is a combination of reference to visual nature while accepting open invention of form not seen before. This would allow me to step from the place I visually inhabit to an art that sings with my internalized visions and dreams. This sounds about right to me!
I wish it was simpler, but nothing can get around it. I need to make a lot of drawings in order to investigate the various possibilities that may, or may not, express my internalized view of existence. I am not even sure if these expressive images should be abstract or concrete, be figurative, or of referential forms. Yesterday saw me playing around, researching a couple of different approaches to solving this problem. What to draw? What to paint? These questions seem ridiculous. Obviously, I am enamored by the visual. So here's problem: How do I make art that expresses my infatuation with that which I see outside and inside of me? Yesterday there was a little success in this ongoing investigation. Yesterday's accomplishment is seen in the second drawing (#2, above). It is more about approach then image. I very much enjoyed inventing the forms, from the hands, to the shoes, to the weird bird that pokes in from the right. Spatial play also feels good to me. In my last blog post I wrote of seeking sweet satisfaction. I felt that kind of satisfaction most during my creation of the shoe on his right foot. Idiosyncratic? Yes! I enjoy the way his skinny leg thrusts into the bulky shoe. Mostly I enjoyed the many stabs at getting it right: drawing, erasing, drawing, erasing, drawing, et cetera, et cetera. It was an adventure, like seeking the proper path to get though a maze. I will follow this satisfactory approach as I continue my research today.
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My recent work is telling: I have not been true to myself. I am not interested in the figure as a primary image. I believe it is a conduit to expression, but not the end-all of expression. The abstract power of composition, form, and color, are far more important. As example, my devotion to drawing human couples has been a distraction. Why? It has allowed me to acquire knowledge with little expressive satisfaction. In drawing such a mundane subject I have enhanced my technical abilities. I have enhanced my form making, graphic punctuation, and spatial expression. I accept these abstract qualities as my drops of candy. I enjoy them in the way we all enjoy eating incredibly, perfectly balanced, candies (excellent dark chocolates are my favorites). These satisfyingly sweet qualities are clues to the path I should follow. My repetitive return to the figure, in normal reductive space, has been my distraction. I have begun an effort to break myself of this habit so I may seek my candy. I want to follow the path of most pleasure. Example, I find the man's right leg in yesterday's second drawing extremely pleasureable (his left leg is on the viewer's right). The play of form is animated by the staccato of the toes ending an appendage which flows forward in space, as if hovering above ground. The forward thrust of space is partially created by simple punctuation of dark that mimics a shadow on a floor. Oh! This is so very satisfying to me!
What I need to do now is follow these clues. Follow them like stones laid down in a path. If I do this, I will follow new forms, new spaces, new compositions, and new colors, on my way to multiple satisfactions. I want to walk out of the studio satiated, not feeling as I have recently felt. I have been feeling too much like an explorer with no satisfactory discoveries. Not good.
I don't know what it's all about. That's why I make art. Yesterday's drawings are stabs at finding a means to relate to myself and to my viewers. All of us live in the here and now. "Here and Now" means Art History is not so relevant in my search for truth and communications skills. I am wasting my time in the studio if my works do not, in the present, ring true to me and to you. So here's to throwing the muck into the fan to see where it lands true! This will continue. Yes, I know I have a painting to finish. But, also, YES, I know I have paintings that need beginnings. Finding a foundational path for my journey will not happen if I don't think and make stuff.
Consistency in work is good for practice. I believe practice is required to hone one's craft, but a few days off, distracted from the day to day processes of making art, has its benefits. I can see it in yesterday's drawings. In those two drawings there is solidity of form, playfulness, and compositional integrity. Over several days prior to these drawings I was swept way by the social interactions of family. Seldom do I think about solving my personal problems while interacting with my family. I like the qualities of these drawings. I am looking to make my work more relevant. I continue to worry that my work does not use contemporary language. If it does not, it will fail to connect with others. Art is about communication. The clarity of communicative playfulness in yesterday's drawings is instructive to me. In order to communicate better I believe I need to go more in this direction.
I have been showing up, patiently, waiting for this. Yesterday the girl in the right panel of Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 became right. I am not saying she is perfect, but the solution is there. She has taken on the proper mood. The bend of her body relative to her head is right. Her relative sizes, scale of head to body, scale of her to the rest of the triptych, et cetera, is right and good. If showing up is 80% of success, then hanging in there is 19%. I will go with Thomas Edison for the last 1%: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
Yesterday's drawing is surprising in subject. I am not going to pull it apart by analyzing it.
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