I am so sorry that my emotions take over and distract from the business at hand. Yesterday I was dragging. The restless night before took its toll. Still, I like yesterday's two drawings. I was too tired to paint. The painting "2016 No.14" sat in front of me. I did not have the energy to act upon it. The artifice of shadows cast on the artifice of the floor, disturb. The local and the atmospheric colors don't jive. They disturb. They distract. Making art is like being seated in a restaurant, feeling a breeze from the air conditioner blowing across one's neck and head. It disturbs. It distracts. You move. "2016 No.14" requires a changes. It disturbs. It distracts. I need to move upon it. That will wait till tomorrow. This is my apology to myself. Making art is an iterative process. It is the same process I learned when I studied engineering. Two steps forward, one back, two forward, et cetera. Yes, it never ends, but it does move forward. Knowledge is forever acquired. There is immortality in making art. It is never done. There is always a next step. The limit of a painting is the limit of current knowing. Knowing has no limits, but it cannot be acquired more quickly than it reveals itself. Art is a record of the acquisition of knowing. The greatest tragedy in being human is the physicality of it all. We require rest, sleep. We wear down. Fortunately rest brings renewed energy. Tomorrow I will work on "2016 No.14".
I do not want to be an infinite futz. I liked the arms and hands in this painting's previous version (#6), but this one (#7) is better in a few ways. The new hand gestures are more subtle and have deeper meaning. The overall color scheme is better and more manageable. The colors make greater sense in terms of balance, contrast, light, and form. At last I can see this painting's completion coming. As to mindful art-making, I need to continue to question that. This painting took a rather rough ride to get where it is now. I would prefer to get there without the bumps. Also, the color correction of the heads definitely moved in the right direction. The red floor now plays well with the flesh tones and the table top hue.
Having the ability to look back at the origins of Untitled-11·27·2013 can only amaze: The reality I was living in yesterday was so different than on the day I began this painting, i.e. 11/27/2013. Even compared to its previous state (#4) it is very different. Most striking is the change to the male figure, which now resembles a mild mannered boy, rather than a skeptical older man. This painting has certainly moved away from a theme of man/woman to man/animal observer. The color, and the dual nature of the atmospheric effects, will continue to develop. The forms within the painting require a lot of refinement. Then there is the firming up of the composition, which feels more like a splash across the canvas. It must become an expressively interactive space organized around forms, atmosphere, and color.
Yesterday's drawing was interesting. One thing for sure: the drawing is a study of the man's hair in the painting. Let me not diminish it to that alone (there is much more there than just hair).
I do not want to offend anyone, so I have paraphrased the song "The Bitch is Back" by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. My pruning of the lyrics brings them closer to the meaning of today's blog post.
"I was justified when I was five
Raising Cain, I spit in your eye
Times are changing...
But the fever's gonna catch you when the bitch gets back
I'm a bitch, I'm a bitch
Oh the bitch is back
Stone cold sober as a matter of fact
I can bitch, I can bitch...
It's the way that I move
The things that I do"
Yesterday's work has brought me back to first instincts, MY first instincts. Now it time to let the "good times roll." This brings me to lyrics from The Cars (Ocasek & Ric), which go to the heart of my acceptance of the direction I am now undertaking: "If the illusion is real let them give you a ride, if they got thunder appeal let them be on your side."
Here is a more complete version of the lyrics from The Cars' song "Let the Good Times Roll":
Let the good times roll
Let them knock you around
Let the good times roll
Let them make you a clown
Let them leave you up in the air
Let them brush your rock and roll hair
Let the stories be told
They can say what they want
Let the photos be old
Let them show what they want
If the illusion is real
Let them give you a ride
If they got thunder appeal
Let them be on your side
Let the good times roll
Who knew? Not me. That is good. Here we go. I know it has not been fast, but it is happening. I am allowing it "to develop", as George Eastman said, "...slowly in the dark, like a photograph." Today I bring us up to speed on my visual thoughts. Few are shown, but each is important. More to come...
Today I show you two of my drawings (from yesterday) and two works by my contemporary, the Italian artist, Francesco Clemente. First, here are my drawings:
I was in the middle of making the second drawing when I realized my approach is allowing me to be spontaneous in the the creation of image and form. I am losing my attachment to anatomy and realism and replacing it with expression through the invention of form with an increased awareness of composition as expression as well. This is what I see in Francesco Clemente's work. Now I show two of Clemente's paintings:
The man's head must be destroyed. Yesterday, in the painting "Intimidation," I re-painted much of the man's shirt and pants, and all of the female figure on the right. Now it is obvious the man's head is wrong. It is wrong in size, shape, expression, and in atmospheric color. Wow, it is really WRONG! So, once again, maybe for the sixth time, I will destroy the man's head and search to find the authentic one. All this destruction and creation has actually boosted my morale. I believe fully in an authoritative outcome for this painting. I feel within me the correct size, shape, expression, and color of this man's physiognomy. It is simple, I just need to feel, paint, and know simultaneously. This means I must be completely present as I create the form and color of this man's head. As I work, I must accept no less than legitimacy. The problem is this: the created visage must be true to itself and the entire painting. The enormous time I have practiced making art has provided me with the intuition, the awareness, and the discernment, to do this well.
No, we art not there yet. The new painting has not begun. I went back into the painting "Unexpected" and made it better. I wasn't ready. My intuition took over. I needed to re-tool. That's exactly what happened. I had to study again my manner of approach. This occurred in yesterday's drawing, and in my revisit to "Unexpected." I feel closer to being ready for the new painting, which I am presuming to be a breakthrough work, but I need to alter the man in "Unexpected" first. He is there begging to be integrated emotionally, atmospherically, and compositionally.
The woman took a turn toward the more appropriate in the painting "Unexpected," but the man glares in his incongruity. It is not his mood, it is the size of his head that is discordant. Its scale is out of whack. As I look at today's reproduction I also see that the local color of his hands and head do not properly participate in the atmosphere of the overall painting. I have my work cut out for me. I am excited about this. I can handle it. This feeling that I am able to tackle, and solve, every problem presented, is relatively new. I attribute it to the large volume of knowledge acquired in my day by day drawings. The enormous volume of drawing was me gathering comprehension. What I have now is what I need to succeed in my quest for expression. Onward!
By the way, yesterday's drawing was a study for the woman in the painting "Unexpected." In the drawing I transformed the woman into a man as I studied the twist of the head to the right while the body is turned to the left.
OK, I have to stop obsessing. I heard the novelist Ann Patchett speak on NPR. She said she finishes a novel, holds on to it for three weeks, delivers it to her publisher, then never reads it again, and never worries about it again. In some ways I am like Patchett, but today I find myself much like the great English painter Joseph William Mallord Turner. I feel as Turner felt immediately upon delivering a work to exhibition. Turner was said to have worked on minor enhancements of his paintings at the openings of his exhibitions. In other words, when Turner viewed his "finished" paintings he knew they were never done and could always be improved; Turner always found problems which could be corrected. Today I am wondering why Turner and I sometimes share this inability to let go. "Window" will never be satisfactorily complete. I now think I understand. Turner's work, and my painting, "Window," are atmospheric paintings. The nuances of atmospheric images are subtle and complex, so much so that comprehending them is an endless game of give and take.
Today I show you the final version of "Window," with my signature found near the upper left. I do not like this reproduction, and again ask you to view art "in person." After "Window" I show JWM Turner's great masterpiece, an image of the Houses of Parliament burning in 1834. You can see the reason the French Impressionists loved Turner's work. It is all atmosphere and immediacy—what could be more immediate than a burning building? To finish this discussion I leave you with an image of a wonderful atmospheric painting by Claude Monet, one his many Rouen Cathedral studies. Monet found a way to make an atmospheric painting quickly, without worries over the perfect finish, which negates my claim that it is the atmospheric element which invites unending revisions. Maybe it is the desire to tell an story, in which atmosphere is an important ingredient, which makes "Window," and "The Burning of the Houses of Parliament," paintings with no endings. BTW: I prefer the Turner to the Monet.
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