Here we are in 2019. It is the same. This is what I do. I don't know what else to do. My continuance is a result of my longevity. By living, and doing, I have acquired patience to outlast my frustration. I am confident. If I stick with this activity, this art-making, I will master it. Age has given me trust in my instincts.
Yesterday I listened to an interview of Philip Roth. To my ears, Roth's thoughts rang completely true. Roth said this, "[as artist] sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness are my closet friends." I fully agree. My actions, as artist, reflect my moral stake in everything. I have to get it right. I will not allow deception. I will plug away at art-making as long as I breathe.
Recently I have not had a lot of dull moments. I am lucky to be here, here as "on the internet." The luck is this: Me posting did not come easy today. My computer simply would not connect to the internet. I tried many things to get connected. I am here after hours of trying. I do not understand how it finally worked. OK, let us get to my art.
A new painting was begun yesterday, 2017 No.14. I tried to keep it simple. You see the result. I will not work on it again today. All those hours trying to figure out my internet connection, me on with Apple Care, etc., kept me out of my studio. Now I am off to a dentist appointment. I hate these kind o f days. Recently there have been too many distractions. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, most useful.
Out of the woods? Seeing the landscape more clearly? New and different? The same? I think there is progress. I think there is a move toward better understanding. A couple days ago I thought, "I know something concrete and completely true." Now I find the horizon is far away. Always receding. Getting closer to the horizon is a myth. My myth, because everyone else knows it is impossible to reach the horizon. Along the way I have seen much. Always new and different. Never absolutely clear. But, the despicable woods always confuse, never end. Still, me thinks this is a good start to a new painting. It is new to me. I like yesterday's drawings too.
Perfect reproduction is not the only impossibility. My continued problems with even lighting is obvious in today's reproductions of yesterday's drawings. You can also see the impossibility of absolute perfection in the painting "2016 No.8". I feel I am behaving more more like Cezanne than Picasso. Who am I to know? Looking back from here, it seems to me Cezanne labored toward perfection, which he could never achieve, and Picasso labored as an experimenter, endlessly playing with the myriad of possibilities in emotive expression. I believe I am trying to follow both examples: Obviously frustrating! It is a frustrating battle, this dealing with purity and the messiness of emotions. Yesterday's three drawings play in this spectrum, beginning with the emotional No.1 and ending with purity in No.3.
"Freedom doesn't exist unless you use it." I heard this sentence, and the title of today's blog post, on a T.E.D. Radio Hour broadcast. It seems 85% of people, no matter their nationality or locale, prefer to follow blindly. That is, the majority of humans prefer NOT to challenge the status quo. Why is this relevant to me and my art? Because I must be part of the uncomfortable 15%. I am stuck in a rut: I can do nothing else but challenge my current views. This is annoying. I am never happy. I constantly wonder about the quality of my art, its relevancy to myself and others. Are my observations apposite to the conversation about life and living? I take the easy way out. I don't know! I do know one result of doing this. The process of art is me introspectively examining all that I know. Consequently, I am constantly moving closer to knowing if this work is worth doing. Worth doing? I am on a path that satisfies by following my curiosity. This feels useful and good! But, is my work helpful to others in their quest to be connected, purposeful, and determinant? That too would be useful and good!
Drawings from 1/16/2016, pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
I am not sure of the exact meaning of yesterday's drawing, posted above, but it could be two of me. The left guy is erect, confident, with large, open hands; he is strong and ready to go. The right guy is leaning back, leaning away, head sideways; he appears fragile with his small, closed hands. The right guy definitely lacks confidence. I am feeling very good about my artistic development. I will never be fully satisfied, but I am relishing the journey. I believe, for the first time, that I have gathered the necessary tools to do whatever needs to be done. I have reached a high degree of mastery. I have confidence I can achieve that which I can conceive. Through my art I want to interact with the world. This blog exists because I want to communicate. However, this blog's limitations are obvious. Therefore, I accept the necessity to engage in the business of art. I need to get my art out there, into venues that may be seen by those who are emotionally engaged in the visual arts. I also wish to make my art accessible to all and everyone. This brings me to today. In the past I have had many exhibitions, shown my work in important galleries, and been juried into competitive shows. During the past four years I have stepped back from that sort of engagement and I have been writing this blog, exhibiting my work here. Late last year I began to feel the need to step back into the brick and mortar world of gallery exhibitions. I put out a few feelers and applied to several juried competitions. Nothing happened. Call it rejection. So, today I begin to think as a businessman who happens to have visual art as his product. Every Friday I am going to devote time to this effort. Today is Friday.
Drawings from 06/03/2015, pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
The last couple days have been complicated. Nothing I can not handle. Just has to be done. I am about to go to the studio. I have a desire to begin a new painting, but I need to prepare a canvas.
Yesterday's drawings are interesting. My mind is a blend of references from reality and imagination. I am always in search of self-expression. A friend sent mine sent me the following John Coltrane quotes. Coltrane's music deeply touches me. I envy his ability to self-express. I adore the way Coltrane has taken the abstract qualities of music and made them hit with great spiritual force. (My friend's additions are in yellow/ochre parentheses.)
There is never any end…There are always new sounds (pictures) to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds (images) so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state.
I did not like yesterday all that much. It brought up a lot of questions and no good answers. So I slept on those questions. This morning brings no firm answers, but the painting, "Leap", looks better to me this morning (albeit its reproduction is further than usual from reality ― but I get another try for the next version, so I go with this poor representation today). Yesterday's drawing is also uncomfortable.
Untitled Drawings-02·03·2015 Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, pencil on paper, 11X14 inches
There is a story about a visit by the painter Nicolas de Staël to Georges Braque's studio. De Staël asked Braque, "How do we know we are not hacks?" Braque's answer was simple, "We don't!" I feel good about the art I am making. Does that make it good art? Like Braque, I don't know. My self-doubt is not going away soon.
Yesterday I made four drawings. I also stretched a canvas: a new painting is coming. I caution myself NOT to let the half finished paintings remain unfinished as I begin new ones. I need to go back to three painting and complete them. The problem is time. My strong desire to forge forward competes with my desire to be disciplined. Should I exhibit such discipline by completing incomplete paintings? Perfection is impossible, but there are degrees of completeness that gradate toward perfection. Looking at my three previous paintings I feel I am further away from perfection than I should be, or could be. I will struggle on, burdened as I am by my needs, and by my angst.
It has been a couple days since I made the drawing that is posted today. This drawing is about confusion. Tis the season of confusion ― I am caught between art and family. I love both, I enjoy participation in both. The remarkable thing about this drawing is its creation was not content conscious; it spilled out of me with its literalness, which is, "being caught in-between!" That is where I am going to be for the next few days. Family will dominate. I am counseling myself, and you (my readers), not to expect much in art-production for several days.
As usual, I expect my full return to art-making will come with great energy. This full return will happen in 5 or 6 days. Giving up my dedicated involvement comes with discomfort. Right now I am full of ideas. I am actively breaking down the barriers that have separated me from the art that is gigantically mine. Family and friends have reassured me that this once a year distraction will not harm my ongoing research and development. Still, it is very difficult for me to be patient. I must give into Leo Tolstoy's wisdom: "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."
To read my profile go to MEHRBACH.com.
At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.