Within the art I show today can be seen a wide range of my work to come. The expanse of my concerns widens more quickly than I am able to make art. Linus Carl Pauling said, "If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away." When I studied Chemistry Pauling was one of my heroes. I was a very good Chemist, but my ideas came slowly and I wanted fast. Art allows me to move quickly. I am on my own; I don't have to pay attention to the many confusing voices that speak more error than truth. (BTW: One of papers continues to be given high regard in Chemical Oceanography: mehrbach et al 1973, which has been sited 1862 times in the scientific literature.)
Historically the latter days of summer, late July thru August, have seen me more contemplative than me sparking fresh ideas. This appears to be true in yesterday's work. First I made a new drawing (above), then I did a little fix to Drawing 07.27·2017 No.2 (below). Rarely do I go back and contemplate drawings from my past. I did yesterday. This is the mood I am in. I believe this is a gathering of energy and information prior to my next big creative period.
There is no easy way to make this right. Does time exist at all? Is it not simply the zombie syndrome? We are a bunch of wax and atoms and little bugs that need to work together to find a way to move, despite there being nowhere to go. Symbiosis is the thing. And so, I search among the rubble that is me. Fortunately, I believe I understand better the more I exist, the more I do. So yes, time does exist! At least, time exists in the memory I have created because I am optimistic. I am going somewhere. Yesterday's drawings show progress. They are unique. They have some resemblance to that which I have created before. Still, they are uniquely their own images. My trust in this process increases the more I do. My confidence in process will bring me back to painting. Tomorrow I will return to my most recent painting, "2016 No.4", then I will begin a new painting, "2016, No.5". Hallelujah!
Yesterday's work is very good. This bring joy, but it also brings fear.
The heavy-duty work has just begun. Just so you know... Now is when everything I make has quality if I approach its making with focused energy. The problem is... focused energy is not always available. For example, You can see ups & downs in the work posted here over the last several days. Yes, you can actually SEE it, because this is VISUAL art! It hangs there, forever scrawled in pencil and paint, and with reproductions always available on the internet. I am turning a corner. I am going from art whose possibilities are limited by skill to art whose possibilities are limited by imagination and invention. I fear failure, because energy and time are limited. So I train, like an athlete. I balance my times of performance with good night's rest, good diet, and good physical exercise. Art-making is like a see-saw. It seems it would be nice to always be on the up-side of the plank, but one of the joys of getting to the up-side is that swoop in the arch. Limits must exist in order to fully enjoy. A bottom must exist to enjoy the top and the journey to the top. That's OK. I just wish an end did not exist.
It has happened again! After all my experience it seems I should recognize this cycle! The drawing in my previous post is decrepit and confused. It marked an end of a cycle of creativity. Like gravity waves, this cycle has a long wavelength and has peaks and troughs. Now I am ascending out of a trough. Yesterday surprised with a substantial drawing and first marks on a new canvas. It was a day that lifted my spirits. Out I came from befuddlement and disarray!
Very difficult for me is to admit to cyclical defeat by uncertainty. I go into the studio, knowingly in a muddle. I power on, making a mess of that before me. The question I ask as I trudge is, "Is it better to try with ineptitude, or is it better not to try a all?" Mostly my discipline overwhelms me, so I ineptly hang in there, making bad art. The question I ask continues to have no clear answer.
On Friday (January 29), my ART Business Day, I worked hard on a new set of Business Cards and Art Portfolio Post Cards. It was a 12 hour work day. The next day I had no creative energy (Saturday, January 30), so... I took a day of reading and watching TV-Series. Yesterday I did get into the studio. Like many days when I return to the studio after time away, I felt a bit foggy about direction. The result is a couple of playfully instructive drawings. I like them very much. It had been a while since I intensely foreshortened a figure. It has been a while since I had taken two characters and aggressively contrasted them in size and scale. Fun. I am still a bit tired. I am going to take tomorrow as a "Rest and Recreation Day". Today is my Money Monday. My next post will be Thursday, February 4.
Times they are a-changing. My revisit to the painting "Beloved" has now made it into the painting "Crazy Love". It is better, more appropriate. You figure that out, because I am working on comprehension as well. Interesting, isn't it? Strange days are here to stay.
J.M.W. Turner, "Rain Steam and Speed", 1844 and "Intestinal Forms", 1990, both oil on canvas
One hundred and forty-six years separate J.M.W. Turner's painting, "Rain Steam and Speed", from my painting, "Intestinal Forms". Despite the chronological distance between the two, I find similarity in the attitude in which they were created. Turner became more and more himself as he aged ("Rain Steam and Speed" is considered a "late" Turner, produced in 1844 when Turner was 69 years old). During my time away from making art I have been contemplating the manner in which I make art. Turner became himself by realizing, on canvas and paper, his deeply discerned intuitive knowing. I sometimes veer away from my own deeply intuitive knowing. I get distracted by searching for more knowledge. This quest for the ephemeral must end. When I return to painting I will follow the complexity of my internalized expressive self and make the art I was born and bred to make. This will be nurture and nature coming together, unified in my art. I admire Turner for accomplishing this in his lifetime. Other painters have also achieved this lofty success. Here I name a few other artists who I see as having succeeded: Willem de Kooning, Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Alberto Giacometti, and James Ensor. These five are the ones that immediately come to mind, but of course there are others. The five I have named, along with J.M.W. Turner, are most on my mind as I seek my own redemption from the failure I witness when I seek knowledge, rather than perform my knowing.
Before I go, let me show you one of my favorite paintings by J.M.W. Turner, "Burning of the Houses of Parliament", 1834. This painting is also considered a "late" work of Turner's. "Burning of the Houses of Parliament" is much less abstract than "Rain Steam and Speed", and it was painted 10 years before "Rain Steam and Speed".
I prepared, then delivered, a painting and a drawing, for exhibition. This distracted me from my normal routine of creativity. Fragility of the nuances of self-knowledge is apparent when daily activity is interrupted. Yes? No? More complex is the answer. Working hard sometimes confuses, rather than clarifies. Yesterday's drawing does feel confused to me, but it was fun in the making. I will stick with the latter idea and move on.
Moving on includes preparing a new canvas for a new painting. The frame was made yesterday. Today I will stretch the canvas. This process of traditional preparation takes more time than I would like. The resulting canvas, on its stretcher, takes up room and calls out permanency, which is not always a good thing. I am thinking of trying the method used by my mentor, Philip Guston. He simply tacked canvases on a wall. When a painting was completed, he had the canvas stretched on a properly dimensioned frame. This method allows one to get to painting more quickly, but there could be problems with it. If odd in dimension, a uniquely sized canvas must be manufactured, rather than using standard stretchers bars, as I now do. Also, stretching stresses the paint on its canvas support. This could lead to cracks in the paint. Guston got away with it. His works have thickly applied paint and no apparent cracking. I will give it try.
Abstract and concrete, confusing and clear, alive and well. All of these seem to go together. At least, that is the way it feels today. Intellectually I am aswim. There is an ocean about me, full of life and objects and detritus. My job is not to know all of it, but to wander through it looking for truth, not beauty. Finding beauty is too easy. Beauty is a distraction from the facts of living which require introspection, followed by some kind of answer. My answers come by me poking around, touching this, touching that, asking, "Does that make sense?"
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