Never perfect! Always failure! Always a modicum of success! The next is always better. Examining work is good. Examination informs; it helps me see necessary adjustments; it makes clear the difference between proper notes and those out of tune. I learn. There is a lot to like in yesterday's drawing. Learning is endless. I am on a path; a faithful path to better work.
Burnt Norton (the painting) sat upon my work wall, untouched for 10 weeks. A little something nagged me, so I left it there, out in the cold. Yesterday, I fixed it! I call it complete! Old dogs always come back! This one is better for the wait, better for the want. I love this dog!
Sophistication is demanding. The more I know the more annoying making-art becomes. It is labor intensive. The painting 2017 No.14 is in state 8 and it has a ways to go. These drawings shown today are from two days ago. They are following a direction I do understand. Their clarity is refreshing to me.
I came across a couple of relevant quotes. I do not remember where I read them, but it must have been in an article about artists who died last year, in 2017. The quotes are from a poet and a playwright, both of whom I greatly admire and respect. I leave you with these...
"Most reckless things are beautiful in some way, and recklessness is what makes experimental art beautiful." -John Ashbery, Poet (1927 1917)
The crystallization of this painting, 2017 No.13, amazes me. With every alteration it moves toward simplicity and clarity. Wishes do not come true unless one works to fulfill them. I am working. Every day I wonder. Every day I look and ask. Every day I try to find more clarity, more simplicity, more authenticity, more truth. The amazement comes because the quest, the daily work, is resolving my confusion, my problems. My questions are continually renewed as I discover better answers. Endless it is.
As promised, yesterday I began a new painting, 2017 No.13. I do feel reinvigorated. This stuff is important. The painting 2017 No.11 was completed; it has very few alterations when compared to its previous state. 2017 No.11 is a grand painting. It is one reason for my reinvigoration. My ability to push these three-dimensional abstractions to finality is clearly understood. My ability to accomplish finality is great. All of yesterday's work feels very good, very right.
NOTE on state 1 of 2017 No.13: The underdrawing seen in today's reproduction of 2017 No.13 was accomplished using an oil paint stick, color = slate blue. A bit of white oil paint was used to cover portions of the painting.
Emotionally yesterday was a rough day for me. Agitation grabbed me, hitting me from without (I'm not telling more than that). I finally got to the studio, rather late in the day. The day got pinched. I only got two hours in the studio. Emotions were strong. These drawings are the result. I actually like them. I had felt that my recent drawings suffered from malaise-like confusion. These drawings are better, more clearly centered — they have meaning. Their emotional state is not lost upon me. They speak true to me. This come after a week or two of perceived confusion. I feel I have prepared myself. I am ready to return to working on my newest painting, 2017 No.9.
Yesterday's drawing is me better realizing my roots. The drawings from the previous two days of studio activity look and feel wrong. Wrong in the sense that those previous drawings appear too figuratively attached. I believe they are good drawings. Good in terms of all things formal, i.e., composition, value and size contrast, use of scale, the use of light and the third-dimension. Confusion is easy. Clarity is hard. The clarifying factor was the beginning of the painting 2017 No.9. It feels right. The struggle today is to keep it right. This is the discipline that is necessary in order to be successful in this game of making art
There is an inaugural sensation to the painting "2017 No.2". It plays with space and light in new ways. It is hopeful in its brightness and clarity. It radiates something new. It is the beginning of a new period of personal artistic substance.
Yesterday's drawing has a black cloud, a wall of stone, and a ground with ominous objects. Yet it is filled with light. Life is good!
I have been out of the studio for a few days. I have been looking at art, went to a museum, looked at paintings: de Kooning, Picasso, Guston, Rothko, and Gottlieb — those are the ones I immediately remember. They had the largest impact on me. I have been contemplating; where am I? Where should I go? If there is any take-away from what I saw, and what I now know, it is this: I must simplify in order to be clear about emotional impact and engagement. A painting by Mark Rothko struck me very hard (it resembled his painting I reproduce below). Rothko's best paintings are simple, yet emotionally complex. In his brushed, washes of color, I could feel his emotional questions and possible answers. Rothko's painting stood in front of me like a monument, a testament to being here and now. It was an emotional experience, built with paint on canvas. No crap deluded the message. Direct and clear. This is a lesson to me. I will begin a new painting today.
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