Perception of space is perception of contrast. In these drawings I push value contrast as well as size and shape contrast. The other play in contrast is strict, geometric shapes (created with straight lines), versus organic abstracted forms (created with curves, oval, and rounds). These drawings are insightful. See also these types of contrast in the works of Francis Bacon and Ellsworth Kelly.
It is very difficult for me to pare down my visual ideas. I am working hard to become absolutely direct; so completely personal as to be impossible to misunderstand. Yesterday I was more successful in my painting, than in the drawings. In the drawings, you can see my effort to pare to importance, but they are not as convincingly reduced as the painting. Still, the painting has room to pare. Mostly that heart-like object annoys me (in the lower left); it has to go. What the hell is that, anyway? Of course you could say "what the hell are they?" about any of my forms. I am reaching for profoundity in form making; I am looking for universal, yet abstract, substantial forms; forms that are intuitively understood, if not immediately recognized as representational.
My art is, indeed, unique. It must be questioned. Is this the best I can do? Does this represent me? Am I engaging the viewer in a conversation about the here and the now and who we are? Does this approach make sense? I am asking, "Am I wasting my time?" Is my work valuable to more than just me? Doing it feels like mediation; it profits me. I want more. I want my art to be relevant to everyone. Touching everyone, with emotion and intellect, is impossible. Many won't pay attention; many are just not interested. A lot of people are preoccupied with other things.
I am strongly committed to the journey I am on. Again, it feels like meditation. As I make art, my thoughts come in/go out, new ones arrive, old ones depart; time is irrelevant; being is relevant.
Yesterday's drawing achieves much of my recent ambitions. It is classically centered. It hits the viewer head-on. It plays well spatially. It plays with contrast of forms and contrast of value; this image is static, yet demandingly varied; thus it causes the viewer to come straight in, wander, linger, and think. Still, I question, "Is anyone paying attention?"
Great art is achieved more from continuity of effort than from talent. I have experienced many talented artists, but only a few achieve great art. Achievement of greatness happens because the route to success is long in thought, long in trial and error, long in failure, sporadic with the exhilaration of success. The drawing shown today is too complex for me. Better were the drawings that were shown in yesterday's blog post. There is high exhibition of talent in the drawing I show today, but it does not stimulate viewer engagement; it requires too much from the viewer, just as it required too much for me to make it real. It does exhibit great talent in drawing; space, form, light, compositional integrity, they are all present. This drawing fails because it lacks immediacy of purpose, which means it lacks immediacy of viewer involvement. I will require a lot of time, energy, and great effort to make real the great art I envision. I am committed to the long run.
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.
When does simplification become too much? Am I simplifying? Clarity is an act of decisiveness; Simplification is an act of divorce. That which appears simpler is often more complex. Complexity is a measure of profundity. Simplification is a measure of ease. This painting, "Your Decisions Matter", is complex; it is profound, albeit simpler in color scheme and its number and kinds of forms. Mark Rothko understood profundity; he made, to the unobservant eye, seemingly simple paintings. I leave you with a great painting by Mark Rothko.
Yesterday's drawing combines many of my interests, from round to flat to three-dimensional artifice to compositional carry-through to light and energy to contrast in value and form. The 3D deception is robust. Formally, this is a success, but is it an emotional success? I worry it feels more an intellectual achievement than a grand display of all things me, i.e., emotions and intellect. Not to worry; this is merely a step along to way to all-inclusiveness.
I am working hard to feel myself through my drawings, one contemplative mark by one contemplative mark. This is a grandiose effort. It requires mindfulness beyond anything I have experienced before. The forms themselves, made by marks of a pencil, are just a portion of the self-empathic problem I am making an effort to solve; the space between each mark, and the space between each form, carries enormous empathetic weight. To fully engage the meaningfulness of this journey is daunting. These drawings are the beginning of very special art; I am beginning to make art as communication of nuanced, momentary feelings, to myself, and to those who view my art. My art is becoming a true record of my living, feeling, thinking, learning, and making.
I had intended to go back today, into the studio, finish this drawing. This drawing is not dated, nor signed (it was made yesterday). Looking at this drawing this morning, I call it done. There is a freeform play about it; I enjoy it, so I will accept it.
Today will be my first full day in the studio in quite a while. The Coronavirus outbreak has distracted me for many reasons. Today I feel fine. All my preparations, food, family, and friends, financial and shelter, feel comfortable. I feel a sense of security in this topsy-turvy world of disease and political missteps. This may not last. I will grab it while I can. I am off to my studio as soon as I place the period on this sentence.
There is a very important take-away to the botched response by the Republican political leaders to all things present tense. Currently they have botched the response to the Coronavirus outbreak. The Republicans leading this country behave like Bullies on a playground; always present tense, always self-centered; they are no good at planning ahead; To Republicans, power now is more important than a future that is secure, healthy, and economically sound. Led by their leader, they call-out derogatory names at those who plan ahead; they derogatorily label ideas as nonsense if those ideas differ from Republican policies; Republicans ideas must immediately ingratiate and benefit Republicans. Republicans choose not to plan ahead. They doubt Global Warming is occurring. They think tax cuts fix economic problems. Earlier this year their leader said the Covid-19 outbreak would "simply go away" and "don't worry." Some may call such bullying "street smarts"; actually it is idiotic planning. The earth is warming; a catastrophe is coming if we do not immediately do something to mitigate Global Warming. Taxes have been so drastically reduced on corporations, and the rich, that our National Deficit is blooming to amazing proportions versus our GDP; future generations will pay for the Republicans lining their pockets with money from their huge tax cuts. And now, in the current moment, we are paying with our health and our lives; the Republican Administration fired the National Pandemic Response Team the day after they met to discuss preparedness for the next Pandemic; this happened in 2018, in Atlanta GA, at the Center for Disease Control (they were there at a conference organized to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the 1918 Flu Pandemic).
My art is one of planning. Yes, I work in the moment. I make the best art I can make in any given moment; I always utilize my total body of knowledge. My plan is expansion of my consciousness; day by day I work. I am getting better. I am getting better because I accept reality, I accept my failures, I accept my successes; I build better stuff through reflection upon my successes and my failures.
The drawing I show today plays with many things. I continue to test the efficacy of my ideas; I test their intelligence and their ability to communicate emotions. Thus, in this drawing, you see competing spatial recognition on a flat piece of paper. There is drama in this drawing because it does not accept peaceful spatial coherency, nor comfortable consistency in forms. This drawing is just one question in the many questions I have been, and will be, asking.
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