In one way or the other, I have been mentally away. I am back. I am up and running. I require mental vacations, self assessment. This is going to happen, not on a regular basis, but it is going to happen. It is a requirement. I liken this to the writer who turns a written page upside down, goes away, and returns somewhat later to read the poetry or prose with fresh mind. In my case it is with fresh eyes. It is a joy to return to the studio with renewed vigor and a multiplicity of ideas. Amazing they are the wonders of living, of processing, of problem solving. As one of my mentors said, "Two steps forward, one back, two steps forward, one back, et cetera, and et cetera...
Returning to investigation means mucking around for reminders. Consistency of work has its merits. Its detraction is confusion through familiarity. Returning brings fogginess to the familiar, but a superior quality to introspection. Excellent investigation requires time away. I have been told by writers that stopping, putting away the pages, then returning to look with a fresh mind, is effective in rooting out poorer description and phrasing. Here too! Yesterday's two drawings are vastly different in approach and in image. Both have qualities I like. Seeking truth is not quick and easy. This is going to take a lot of time. Hang in here.
Openness to surprise is the game I play. Openness is the manner I pose in order to self-discover. It is unfortunate that it takes an infinity to reveal oneself to oneself. I am one who wishes it was easier and quicker, while at the same time I do enjoy the problem solving process immensely. Yesterday's drawings are me being open to floating forms, incongruent shadows, and to a grid animated by its spatial play. These things interest me because they pull concentrated questions from dark holes in my brain. At this point I do not know why this approach to image-making works well for me. I do know being open to alternatives is the only way I will reveal the fullness of my intellectual/emotional being.
Openness is an overarching concept or philosophy that is characterized by an emphasis on transparency and free, unrestricted access to knowledge and information, as well as collaborative or cooperative management and decision-making rather than a central authority. Openness can be said to be the opposite of secrecy.
What's it all about? I am certainly NOT stuck in a rut! I am driving along, turning a corner. The turn feels slow, lethargic. It does feel familiar. I am winding up, the tension in my rubber band of a soul is increasingly stretched. I feel taut, stressed, anxious, ready to jump. The coming recoil may not be pretty. My current work does not look pretty. Everything looks unappealingly unattractive. Yet, I am filled with optimism.
Yesterday's drawings are, in a simplistic way, exploratory. What can I do with that which I know? Is this craziness? I am more interested in the unknown than the known? Thus I explore, looking to push out of my comfort and into the revelatory uncomfortable. It would be healthier for me to revel in the simplicity of being, here and now. Would it not be better to be happy with the pleasures available to me? Am I a hero if I risk looking for the dark and dank? Or just a crazy idiot? Time and effort will tell.
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!
The conundrum is in the multi-faceted activity of making art. Right, wrong, good, bad — who knows, not me! I very much enjoy yesterday's drawing. Therefore, I question its profundity. That question, and its answer, are useless. Useless because trying to answer is fraught with bias. The pathway to the authentically profound is not determined by the formation of verbal questions and verbal answers. It is solvable through intuitive effort, not through quantifiable, intellectual thought. I choose to enjoy this drawing for what it is. I hope you will too.
Also, yesterday I did complete the expansion of my work-wall for painting. I am now able to tack up a canvas, then immediately begin work on it. The wall's expansion allows me to move a wet painting aside to a place on the wall which will allow it to dry, face up. This means there are two large spaces on the wall, one for the drying of paintings, one to work on a painting. It's like an organized factory!
"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
Now is the time when nuance is in question. Does the change in the head of the bird in the painting "Wowie" enhance this painting? It is not just the bird's head that has been altered. The silhouette of the man, and the "ground", have also been modified. The alteration in the bird was called for by the alteration in the "ground", which was followed by the change in the silhouette. Of the ground, I am sure. Yes, but does this new bird's head improve the painting? I am questioning my decision because of this reproduction. Yesterday I did the same questioning while in the studio. I altered the bird's head several times, finally arriving at the one shown here. So, should I accept this version as correct? The problem I must answer is this: Can the painting allow this more demanding version of the bird's head? The only way to answer this may be to erase the present bird's head and try again. But, sometimes I walk into the studio, look at a painting and know, "This is good!" Stay tuned.
Yesterday's drawing is definitely a good one.
Invention, surprise, resurrection, Stanley Kubrick, Leo Tolstoy, Abbott and Costello. They all have given meaning to my life. Rumination and self-analysis has been a result. How do I get all of them in my art? There is no easy means or method, so I continue to plug away. Who's on first? The title of yesterday's blog post said, "This is What!", but Abbott said, "What is on second." The play of ins, outs, and betweens of my synapses must be leading me to comprehensive knowing, or not. The drawings shown today are me searching. This is not unusual, but I note it just the same.
FYI: The complete dialogue of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" is transcribed at the end this post.
Drawings from 11/11/2015, both pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Who's on First? by Abbott and Costello
Drawings from 7/15/2015, all pencil on paper, 16X20 inches
Yesterday's drawings were more prolific than usual. They are shown in "Gallery Format", so please click on an image to increase its size for easier viewing. After working hard to make sure I delivered a couple of good pieces of art to the AVA Gallery Juried Summer Exhibition, I, at first, felt lethargic, then I felt introspective. The introspective is what you see in yesterday's drawings.
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