I am trying to be straightforwardly honest in this Age of Denial. Denying has become an art form. Materially, Art is Real, but it speaks a language that is a step away from the reality it depicts. I am experiencing reality as I make art: I feel, I live, I experience; thus my Art is a depiction of reality; it is born in realness.
Yesterday's drawing was born out of my need to be "in your face," to be straightforward. I wished to depict space of little depth, keeping the artifice of a third-dimension to a minimum. I began with a question. This drawing is one answer. The other idea was one of robust contrast: more angular objects on the left are in contrast to more curvaceous ones on the right. (Of course, there is light versus dark too!)
An ancient part of us, a remembrance of things past, is shrouded by current events. Communication between souls requires our most ancient information become accessible, available to be perceived on the surface of our knowing. I strive to make our ancient knowledge as present as that known through the schooling of our intellect. Yesterday's drawing pulls a few triggers, ones that lie beneath the wave that hit the shores of my presence tense. I am diving, dumpster diving, into the food that others have passed off as distractive to their daily lives. I work in hopes of connecting the here and the now with the fullness of all knowing, past and present and the future I find as I walk forward, step by step. Look as you fall into this drawing. Through light and darkness, and because of the pressure that is a spatial drop, join me in seeing more than the simple gift of representational knowledge.
In life there is struggle to see clearly. The murkiness of people, things, and emotions obscure easy access. Muck, rubbish, and dirt get in the way of truth-telling; clarity is found by consistently pushing the falderal out of one's way. Such is my journey. Reason is not enough. This is slow because the rubbish is much. Yesterday's drawing dealt with this dichotomy. There is left and right; there is heaven and earth. There is darkness and light. The left is shadowed, invokes a search for nuance. The right is easier on the eyes; it invokes simplicity and strength. The monument on the right is clear. The monument on the left struggles to be seen. Both monuments are pyramids, one tall and lean, one fat yet sturdy in its dark surroundings. Obvious, there is play between murkiness & limpidity.
Something magical is happening. While in process, as I work, my mind understands. It communicates, disseminates. My art springs directly from core intuition and knowledge, perhaps even emotion is involved. There is caveat, in regard to emotion, because, of the three, it feels most remote. Of the three (intellect, intuition, emotion), emotion is the most difficult for me to visually depict with acuity. This does not surprise me. I am working my way down to the essential me, the instigator of all. Fear and flight, love and hate, passion and desire; emotion is most difficult to depict with lucidity. The more I do this, the more I make-art, the more confident I am; I have the right stuff, the talent, to make it real on canvas and paper. This surprises me. I need longevity to make it fully happen. I know not the path I am on. It is not laid out in front of me. I am required to take one step at a time. The chisel is at work. Each step chips away one more bit of the crap that obscures my truth in being and existence.
Yesterday's drawing is exceptional. It is both playful and serious, light and dark; new forms occupy a classical composition. It is what the world needs now.
Self discovery does not occur on one moment on one day. It is a never ending process. Becoming oneself is possible and impossible. It is possible to be more oneself with every effort toward self-realization. Complete selfhood cannot be achieved. It is the journey that excites. Similar to discovery new geographies, insights in selfhood give exhilaration in living.
Yesterday's drawing is very different than the one from the day before. I feel fear when my drawings go so dark; scary when I tend toward blackness. I am a believer of light as omnipresent. Perception of shadow is dependent upon light, less of it, but still there.
I am hoping to paint today. I continue to deal with my exhibitions, promoting them, preparing to take one down and put one up. I will be glad when the studio, the making of art, is my primary artistic concern. Soon...
My major artistic struggle right now is staying open to instinctive possibilities. If I touch success I discover grandness of light on forms and between forms. My effort is a struggle for enlightenment. I am working to be fully aware of everything, from the emotional potency of negative space to the emotional potency of forms and light. A piece a paper is an artifice of light, form, and negative space, but it absolutely is not an artifice of my personal awareness. My art measures me. It slams me up against my knowing. I am trying with all I have to stay so open as to fully know success and failure. This is a blunt process. I walk away from each art-making event knowing the depth of my comprehension, as well as the limits of my seeing, my knowing, my feeling. Yesterday's drawing was just one more step along this path, my journey in quest of light and enlightenment.
I have been making a strong effort to think simple. I am well aware an obvious relationship between negative and positive space must be the capturing effect that is the ultimate driving force of the first glance. The first glance should capture viewers, rein them in. As complex as yesterday's drawing became, it is simple in its composition. I hope you see that. There is dark on the left, bright on the right, strong vertical movements play against strong forms on the left and the right. This is a masterful drawing. I felt mastery in my process.
The continuity that is my art-making is the many questions I ask. It would be nice if this was a one way street; it would be nice if all questions led up the street, to higher ground. It is a winding road. It is a night-time highway; black is the sky. I do have lights. Those lights are NOT able to see around the next bend. The path I take is illuminated by the questions I ask, the answers I give. The questions see forward a tiny bit on this winding path; the answers may or may not help me move forward. Some answers are missteps. Occasionally an answer is like a crack in the road. I stumble. Always I get up, I question again. Every so often the answer I give is a great one; I move forward, up the street, to higher ground. Yesterday's drawing was such an answer. It questions the possibility of light as perceived by drawing on white paper. It uses contrast in values. I have made a central form filled with light. It acts as a beacon in a dark world, lit by the artifice that is perceived as light cast across the landscape in which it sits. The risk I took to discover this is the reward of truth; it says the path I have chosen has merit.
Three million strokes and counting.... Yesterday's drawing celebrates the marking of a white piece of paper with graphite from a pencil. Later yesterday, as I rested reading in my living room, my arm let me know it had been taxed. I had been enjoying finding forms, finding surface, finding space, finding light, and finding composition! This simultaneity-filled activity is a celebration of mindfulness. The more I do it the longer I can sustain it! This is "practice", as defined by veteran meditators. The Buddha would be proud of me! I have not obtained Buddhahood, but I am moving in that direction.
Shravasti Dhammika, a Theravada monk, writes:
One more worry: Is my work too complicated, too subtle? Is it beyond the grasp of most viewers? I see visual connections across wide expanses of canvas and paper. I do not think I am deluding myself. Yesterday's drawing does work well. There is a solid core, there are rhythms and rhymes, there is movement and motion, there is value contrast, there are a large variety of forms, there is light, there is structural integrity. So, why is it not a hit? I believe it does hit well. Then why are viewers not begging that it be put in public venues? What are they not begging to see it up close and personal? Art that speaks truth should be seen. Perhaps Vincent Van Gogh wondered the same.
In yesterday's blog I quoted a New York Times article from March 22, 1992. The following paragraph, from the same article, is relevant to my worries of today:
"Cezanne's career might have been as grim as Van Gogh's -- and as short -- had he not been the son of a banker and, ultimately, his heir. As it is, his progress from clumsy Expressionism to a sublime fusion of the monumental and the ethereal has attracted scholars from Roger Fry to Meyer Schapiro and John Rewald." (from the New York Times article, ART; How Cezanne Evokes a Bach Fugue, published March 22, 1992)
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