Too simple? Too complex? Too simple? Too Complex? Yes, but... I don't think either "too simple"or "too complex" is true if composition centers the answer. My goal is make my art impossible to look away. Thus, I go back and forth, simple, complex, simple, et cetera; testing and researching. Look at yesterday's post to see what I mean.
Today's drawing may have a touch of both simple and complex. It is definitely a limited affair compared to the drawing I posted yesterday.
The question is... What are the limits of complexity an art-maker can create in his effort to immediately engage the viewer, then hold them for the long haul? The long haul is most important. If the viewer does not hang in the viewing, all depth and substance will be missed. The artwork fails if it does not hold the viewer's attention for minutes, then for days, and ultimately for years of return visits; each viewing to look again, to comprehend more, tp feel more, to be rewarded with more.
Yesterday's drawing was an effort to do just as say in the above paragraph. This is a rich, and profound, drawing; complex, filled with plasticity of thought and emotion.
This drawing took two studio days to complete. This dedication of time to a drawing is rare. It is a sophisticated drawing. Is it a great drawing? I am mulling on that! It takes me a few days, sometimes weeks, to determine the truth or deception of a work of art. My first impulse with this one is positive. I shall see...
There is a lot in a little, and vice versa. I must be careful. Muck can overwhelm. Muck can distract. Confusion reigns if the the simplest of truth telling is not sustained. Yesterday's drawing allows the viewer to engage with a simple rectangle within a rectangle. This engagement occurs despite it being built with a complex web. I believe yesterday's drawing tells a proper story.
Looking for nirvana never fails to fail. This drawing is a start in the right direction. Seek and I shall find. This drawing finds merit in directness coupled with complexity. Here are large individual forms, within the large forms complexity is found. This is not the perfect accomplishment. It is a finding; not conclusive, but a verdict of merit that is preparation for my next step.
I received a gift of a calendar for 2021. It contains 365 art images, mostly paintings. Its cover shows Vincent Van Gogh's Still Life with Irises (one of Vincent's greatest masterpieces, completed in the last year of his life, 1890). You see one of my inspirations in this painting. Vincent used simple color, simple large forms, but then playfully created a complexity of lines, shapes, and value contrast within the irises. Van Gogh's Still Life with Irises is satisfying on many levels. I absolutely adore this painting. It is a treasured lesson in emotional truth telling.
Recently, my drawings are taking two days of thought to complete. The second drawing here is no exception. This drawing from 9/25/2020 is a step toward simplicity, yet it is too simple for me to accept. Today I will go back into it. That said, look at Drawing 09·24·2020 in its state 2; it is crazy complex. Why is it difficult for me to illustrate my simple, personal identity? Am I as complex as my drawings indicate? The problem is viewer engagement. I do not wish to be obtuse, but I believe I am. My job is to get down to the basic me; I want to be naked in front of myself, naked in front of my viewers. At this point I continue to hide behind a patterned curtain so thick as to hide me from easy view. Yeah, I am behind the curtain. Am I pretending, as the Wizard of Oz pretended to be someone he is not? I know I am failing to do the one think I want to do so badly. I want to reveal myself in order to communicate honestly and purely. Guise and guile are irritating and distracting. I must stop myself!
Fascinating it is, that the struggle of my life is not a struggle for understanding and skill, but for simple and clear. It ain't easy for me to accept simplicity. Simplicity, it seems, is far more difficult to render well than complex and overwhelming. Paring down to essentials is hard work; much harder than letting loose with a spill of ideas. Ideas come easy; sorting out the relevant comes hard.
I am obviously moving toward more simple images, albeit complex in actuality. I question the ability of a fully complex image to fully engage the viewer. Today I show one answer to this question. However, the caveat is this, as with Mark Rothko, and Ellsworth Kelly, I believe initial simplicity has the ability to be extremely complex. Yesterday I showed you an excellent Mark Rothko painting; it contains just two floating rectangles; Simple? Not at all! Today I show you a painting by Ellsworth Kelly, black with a floating, flat white form; Simple? Not at all! I could live with either the Rothko or the Kelly painting for a very long time; both would endlessly speak volumes to me.
I failed yesterday if simplicity be my goal. It is not! I want the intellectual and emotional satisfaction of complex images and the direct and immediate engagement of simplicity. Ellsworth Kelly achieved great visual impact using simple images. Kelly's work satisfies emotionally and intellectually. His is a great achievement. As much as I envy Kelly's direct route to completely fulfilling art, I am not Ellsworth Kelly; I am myself. My path continues to be discovered, step by currently unknown next step. Yesterday's drawing was such a step. It taught me; I reflect upon it. I want the negative space in my art to be as effective as Ellsworth Kelly was able to achieve in his art.
I have been making a strong effort to think simple. I am well aware an obvious relationship between negative and positive space must be the capturing effect that is the ultimate driving force of the first glance. The first glance should capture viewers, rein them in. As complex as yesterday's drawing became, it is simple in its composition. I hope you see that. There is dark on the left, bright on the right, strong vertical movements play against strong forms on the left and the right. This is a masterful drawing. I felt mastery in my process.
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