Self-deception is a thing. Mostly I have believed I am not party to personal lies. Now I think personal dishonesty is inevitable, for all of us. I have liked to characterize bad ideas as theory-testing, hypotheses gone wrong. Too bad, because I have been more wrong than right, which hurts. I have told more lies than truths.
Recently I have been more able to stand back, assess, recognize my dishonesty, move myself, and my Art, toward truth. I am not perfect. I am learning to accept my deception. I am in the midst of a strong effort to see my dishonesty for what it is. I am in the midst of reorienting my sinking ship, making it upright. I fear there is much about me that must be made right. Am I able to grapple with my vast amounts of personal confusion? I am making the effort to do so. This painting, "After Words", is stepping in a better, more truthful direction. It does look odd, doesn't it?
I am working toward a disposition that is direct, realistic emotional intensity. Why muck around when roundabout is confusing? Go for it! Devolve from confusion, uncertainty, and mystification. This is the route to satisfactory communication, trueness in social intercourse. Yesterday's drawing was a realistic step toward my goal of unabashed, complete honesty.
My Whole Heart Be True
The drama and solidity of this composition tells me, "I am here! Here, at last!" Getting to the here and the now, with complete honesty as the tag, makes this moment real. It has not come easy. Can I sustain it? Why not? Philip Guston sustained it, and he was no less human than I. This is the most important part of Guston's mentoring. If not for Philip I could not have understood this as the most important component of making art.
Hide & Seek & Find
The recesses of mental and emotive nuance are many. The game I play is finding hidden truths. But, why are they hidden? It is our human capacity to be persuaded by optimism; optimism produces false and distorted memories. I want to believe I am well. I want to believe I am whole. I want to believe I have dignity, I want to believe I am intelligent; all this desire distorts truth. Truth telling is difficult because truth is diffused by desire. Yes, I desire to make art so true and fine as to be immediately recognized as true and fine. However, no easy road to truth exists.
Daily, I show up in the studio. Daily, I seek to make visual truth. Today I show you yesterday's efforts. I believe they are very good; very good, meaning they are authentic steps toward truth-telling.
Optimistic Dishonesty Matters
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." ― Rumi
It is difficult to sort it out. Hello and goodbye to rationality. What do I do now? I continue. Continuity is the key. Change is inevitable. Change happens within continuity because memory discards specificity of details, particularly as related to the many poor decisions attached to failures. Failures get lost, removed from the mind. I go forward, I take the next step, change happens!
Continuity means change for the better. My art proceeds. My life proceeds. I am getting better one moment at a time.
Yesterday's drawing is an interlude. It came fast. My time in the studio is limited. I am nursing my wife, who has taken ill. Our doctor has diagnosed her from afar. There is no testing for Covid-19, so what do we know? We know she is getting better. This, thankfully, is the truth.
Most of you, when you read today's Blog title, thought I was talking about the Republican at the top. Several doctors and scientists have said the dishonesty of that man, his crazy expressions of optimism, have badly hurt our nation's efforts to get the Covid-19 outbreak under control. A few weeks ago he said, "It is just going to disappear." More disastrously, his lie about the widespread availability of testing ("Everyone who wants it can get it.") squashed development of the test. Scientists backed off development, believing the Center for Disease Control has a test available (they did not). His extreme dishonesty has put our nation into its current difficulties; weeks behind in testing, weeks behind in solutions. South Korea, early in the outbreak, successfully ramped up testing. South Korea has control of the virus outbreak. Our Scientists and Doctors say we are running blind; we can't figure this out; there is too little data.
It IS Happening Here
Yesterday's drawing surprised me. That drawing did not surprise me as much as our world gone bazzarro. Yesterday a large crowd of well educated, relatively intelligent folks, sat in a room applauding a bully-full of denigrating and dishonest comments. The comments were aimed at good folks, aimed at people calling a spade a spade. By spade I mean a tool with a sharp-edged, typically rectangular, metal blade and a long handle, used for digging or cutting earth, sand, turf, etc. (the dictionary definition). I digress; back to the importance of making art: I do not particularly like yesterday's drawing. Yesterday brought two things I do not particularly like, both need to be revisited with honesty in the forefront. My part is this: I must hunker down into my emotions. The drawing seen here is a technical marvel, but it does not engage emotionally. That is my failure. I need to go back, allow my emotional juices to flow onto the page. Moving a form here, a bit of light there, darkness over here, is not good enough! I am obligated to spill the beans of my tumult in real time.
This morning The New Yorker sent an email to all its subscribers with the cartoon I reproduce below. It is apt in many ways. It relates to our society, but also embraces the constant internal arguments I have. Only I get me, and I don't completely get me. That is the major reason I make art. It is also the reason my work bounces around in search for consistent, relentless truth. Can any human endeavor find absolute truth? I think there are absolute truths, like honesty. However, complex endeavors, like making art, do not easily reveal absolute truth. Thus comes my drawings, one simple, the next complex. There are those that are dominated by lines and those that are dominated by hard core black graphite. Yesterday's drawing exhibits the blackest I can get with that pencil of mine.
Truth Distracts from Fraud
I always make an effort to see everything at once. I try for universal comprehension. Instead, I get distracted by the ugliest deceit first, then I see the rest of my dishonesty, The floating ring in 2017 No.13 is gone! Yesterday the truth of its deceit hit me hard. After removing the circle I noticed the inappropriate blue flame-like shape (in the upper left). Now it glares at me with its fraudulence. It does not deserve to be there! Unfortunately I am capable of only one step at a time. This undermines my soul. It is personal deception. I was lying to myself and I did not know it. This is why I must live a very long life. It is going to take me a long time to correct all my missteps. Finding right is not a straight path. I want to do this right. I am obsessed. I want to stop messing up. I want to find the simplicity of living within truth.
Inauguration & Hope
There is an inaugural sensation to the painting "2017 No.2". It plays with space and light in new ways. It is hopeful in its brightness and clarity. It radiates something new. It is the beginning of a new period of personal artistic substance.
Yesterday's drawing has a black cloud, a wall of stone, and a ground with ominous objects. Yet it is filled with light. Life is good!
Searching for relevance.
Always! I am always searching for relevance — myself for myself and myself for my viewers. Today I will take more steps to integrate with relevant social media. For now, view these drawings. They are becoming more tightly composed as they become more complicated in their number and kinds of forms. I am watching carefully, as I am weary of complication. I want to be direct and honest. I want my work to have initial impact as well as a quality that demands sustained involvement.
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