Rules have been made because history has been made. I grew up with intense interest in visual arts, especially painting and drawing, I studied art history. I looked for models. I looked for information. I gathered it, assiduously and thoroughly. Here I am, playing differently than any model I have ever seen in art history, or in contemporary art. I am myself. Yet, I have not rid myself of the laws I learned from art history and from art school studies. Yesterday's drawing is amazing in its play with form, composition, mark-making, value-contrast, atmospheric and local effects; but it has a deep foundation in the stuff that came before. Is this good or bad? That is a question I continue to answer. This is the process! I have established myself as myself. Now I question the validity of my answers. I am wondering, "Is this drawing remarkable because it plays with rules I invented myself?" OR "Is this drawing just another variation on the rules I have been given by those who made art before me?" Question #2: "Does it matter?" I need to know. Thus I proceed.
Something is very right about the painting 2017 No.5. I do not think it calls for more. It sings, it is full of light, its color play (both local and atmospheric) is joyous, and the composition is balanced while simultaneously off-kilter. What could be better? At this point I do not know. Glory, glory, Hallelujah!
Te drawing is a study for the painting. I cannot follow a formula. Although this drawing resembles 2017 No.5, it is different, albeit informative.
The light and airiness of my new painting is an immediate reaction to the questions I asked during the finishing stages of the previous painting, 2017 No.4. My questions pertain to color, both local and atmospheric. I admit, one of my crutches, when in query, are the works of Henri Matisse. In Matisse's best work he handles the nuances of color, the competition between the insistence of local color versus the insistence of atmosphere, better than any painter I know. Light dominates in 2017 No.5, as it does in my favorite works by Matisse. Similar Matisse (looking broadly at his oeuvre), I do go back and forth with my concerns, ricocheting from the dominance of form to the dominance of color. In 2017 No.5 color is winning. As examples of my influence I reproduce a work by Matisse and one by the Bay School painter Elmer Bischoff. FYI: The entire Bay School, which included Richard Diebenkorn, was greatly influenced by Matisse's play between local and atmospheric color.
Who makes the rules? Not me! Me? Actually its both! This world I am making is according to a confluence and divergence of everything known. Making sense of it is slow, but sure, a day by day activity. This makes me think of Michelangelo, who said on his deathbed, at age 89 years: “I regret...that I am dying just as I am beginning to learn the alphabet of my profession.” I am always beginning. Every time I stand in front of a white piece of paper, or a white canvas, or even a painting or drawing that is in process, I feel so youthfully naive. The more at a loss I am, the better I disarm myself through the process. Disarm is a good word for this process, i.e. if I take it to be the stripping away of weapons and ammunition. I am always protecting myself, looking to keep the fortress intact. I also want to find a way to build the fortress bigger, more substantial. Of course, I am constantly failing because that is NOT what I am doing. I am NOT building something more substantial, I am learning the alphabet that is already here.
The newish painting, "2016 No.17", looks like a reaction to my previous painting, "2016 No.16". "No.17" is working with a limited palette, thus feeling atmospherically involved. This is me questioning the color scheme of "No.16", which allows competition between atmospheric and local color.
I like yesterday's drawings.
I am so sorry that my emotions take over and distract from the business at hand. Yesterday I was dragging. The restless night before took its toll. Still, I like yesterday's two drawings. I was too tired to paint. The painting "2016 No.14" sat in front of me. I did not have the energy to act upon it. The artifice of shadows cast on the artifice of the floor, disturb. The local and the atmospheric colors don't jive. They disturb. They distract. Making art is like being seated in a restaurant, feeling a breeze from the air conditioner blowing across one's neck and head. It disturbs. It distracts. You move. "2016 No.14" requires a changes. It disturbs. It distracts. I need to move upon it. That will wait till tomorrow. This is my apology to myself. Making art is an iterative process. It is the same process I learned when I studied engineering. Two steps forward, one back, two forward, et cetera. Yes, it never ends, but it does move forward. Knowledge is forever acquired. There is immortality in making art. It is never done. There is always a next step. The limit of a painting is the limit of current knowing. Knowing has no limits, but it cannot be acquired more quickly than it reveals itself. Art is a record of the acquisition of knowing. The greatest tragedy in being human is the physicality of it all. We require rest, sleep. We wear down. Fortunately rest brings renewed energy. Tomorrow I will work on "2016 No.14".
The woman took a turn toward the more appropriate in the painting "Unexpected," but the man glares in his incongruity. It is not his mood, it is the size of his head that is discordant. Its scale is out of whack. As I look at today's reproduction I also see that the local color of his hands and head do not properly participate in the atmosphere of the overall painting. I have my work cut out for me. I am excited about this. I can handle it. This feeling that I am able to tackle, and solve, every problem presented, is relatively new. I attribute it to the large volume of knowledge acquired in my day by day drawings. The enormous volume of drawing was me gathering comprehension. What I have now is what I need to succeed in my quest for expression. Onward!
By the way, yesterday's drawing was a study for the woman in the painting "Unexpected." In the drawing I transformed the woman into a man as I studied the twist of the head to the right while the body is turned to the left.
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