"Can you believe it, August is here!", said one newscaster after the next on snippets (from local TV stations) shown on the 8/1/2018 Jimmy Kimmel show. Here is my first drawing for August 2018. It is different, it is very good, it is a response to my working so very hard on the painting Along for the Ride. My acuity increases if I work in an extremely focused manner for several days, which I did with Along for the Ride; I made no drawings for several days! When my acuity peaks I prepare myself for a fall — a fall into exhaustion. I try to pace my energy, looking always for consistency in awareness. This drawing is a result of peak awareness, not exhaustion. Apparently I required an interlude before returning to Along for the Ride.
No miracles! Just daily effort! No way but the highway! I am happy with the progress of the painting 2017 No.10. However, there is stress in me. I wish to fully understand, while at the same time I wish to explore new possibilities. Working on a painting till it no longer begs for change is me making the effort to fully understand. The daily drawings are me exploring present and future possibilities. Yet I consistently feel a lack of new painting. Presently I am in an effort to complete a painting. I do not feel I am able to begin a new painting till I have exhausted the present painting. Painting, for me, continues to stretch my conscious and unconscious intuition. It strains me. So great is the struggle that it limits my desire, and my ability, to make two paintings at the same time.
It just keeps happening. Endless it is because I am unable to exhaust myself. There is pleasure in exhaustion. Such gladness is caused by self-gratifying accomplishment. Sometimes I can indulgently rest when I feel I deserve it. I am not there yet. Yesterday's painting, and drawings, were unusual. The drawings are sparse, more lightly drawn. The painting has unusual color combinations, forms are flattened while sitting in three-dimensional space.
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".
Before becoming an artist I was a scientist. Last night reminded me much of a night I remember during my undergraduate education. It was the night before a final exam in Physics. Back then I could not stop the formulas and ideas about everything from mechanics to electricity and magnetism from spilling into my head. I tossed and turned and saw images and formulas flash in and out. It was not a night of rest. More like a night of an onslaught. I could not escape then, and I could not escape last night. There was no peace to be found. Last night I could not stop the forms I am finding in my art from being in my head. They were omni-present, visual and dream-like. These forms composed themselves into pictures. They were brittlely real. Shattering in my mind, then moving onto a new composition, one after another. Wild, uncontrollable, disconcerting. Yet, I feel, as I did back then before the Physics exam, that this is a clue to the soundness of my knowledge. True knowledge is imbedded within me. The art I am making has authenticity. It rings true, as my understanding of Physics rang true. There is a call here. I have arrived at something truly important to me.
Are shame and humor closely aligned? You often hear that women find men attractive who humorously self-deprecate. Daily readers of this blog know I have been physically and emotionally stressed by my recent social activities. Strange as it may seem, this brings shame. In the studio I have felt out-of-touch. This usually means there is a disconnect in my personality. Where is reality? Most likely I distrust as a result of mental and physical exhaustion. Yesterday I looked for humor in art-making. Did I find it? Not sure. I did find an idea worth pursuing. On my studio wall I have a reproduction of a still life by Pablo Picasso. I admire it because it hits hard through use of humor. I need more of this is my own work. I have said before, Picasso's masterpiece of war and destruction, "Guernica", is made tolerable through Picasso's humorous invention of form. Below I reproduce for you two of Picasso's still life paintings, the first from 1938 (during World War II and one year after "Guernica"), the second from 1962. I believe art can me made more available to the viewer, no matter what emotions it carries, if it has a sense of humor.
I had a choice of titles. "Nothing Much", or the one you see here. I was tired yesterday. I was in recovery. First, from a late night with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, then came a late night (with friends) watching the recent James Bond film, "Spectre". Social activities tire me. Recent studio work has been little, and nothing much. Last night I got a good night's sleep. Today I am better prepared for the studio.
This was a week of self-intimacy. Everything I did led to self-acceptance. This can be seen in drawing after drawing. Even the newest painting forced me to accept my basic impulses and interests. I write "even the new painting" because when one looks at this painting my insight is not obvious. What you don't see is how its failure, particularly in the background's lack of rapport with the foreground forms, hit me like a hammer on the intellect. It screams, "This ain't right!" So the obvious problem is me versus the structure with which I must work. The actual structure is two-dimensional, but the visually, emotive structure I place on the 2D paper or canvas is invigorated by its three-dimensionality. I have pointed out in this week's posts, as I referenced Masters like Cezanne and Monet, that I am not alone with this dichotomy. There are models out there, created through lifetimes of work. This brings me squarely into my self-importance. It is important that I pursue this problem which I have begun to address. It is important because it has become incontrovertible that this is the manner I must use to express who I am, the way I see, the way I feel. Yesterday's drawing took another jab at it. I felt exhausted by the end of my studio session, which tells me this has been a week of enervating insights. I am proud, but not happy or satisfied. I have faced the challenge, accepted it as true. There is a vast amount of work to be done!
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.
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