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)
Right and wrong are often difficult to distinguish. Look at that little circle created in the upper left of this drawing. It flattens out on its left side. That was a conscious decision. I thought the flattened line played well with its otherwise roundness. Seeing it reproduced here I am not so sure. Overall the line it generates reenforces the verticality of the composition, while causing hesitation in the whipsawed rotation of the snaking form in which it is one circle away from the upper end. This is an example of a drawing that will spawn another drawing. The next will examine another possible solution. As I always say, this is an unending process without any perfect answers. Questions are wonderful! They initiate answers, good and bad. Questions, no matter the answers, always inform.
This quest is a burden. To find the image that is as good as it gets is impossible. I keep trying. Constantly I ask myself, "Is it worth it?" After the work I mostly answer "Yes." The affirmative never comes easy, nor immediately. A certain amount of giving in, giving up, is necessary. Perfect success is impossible. The only success possible is making the image better than it was before. This seeking perfection certainly slows my life down. It also brings nervousness. Obsession is not trouble-free. It is conflict. It is disquiet that is anxiety and apprehension. Yesterday I returned to the painting 2017 No.11. It is better. It is not perfect. It will never be perfect. I do see it as better. It needs more. I accept the work that is necessary. That will happen today.
Here is a bit of success: I have moved on from the painting 2017 No.12. I assure myself that 2017 No.13 will begin soon.
Yesterday's drawings are interesting. No pattern, just writhing forms juxtaposed against solid, easily recognizable geometric forms. For fun I reproduce three images that somehow influenced yesterday's work (e.g, the sphere in Albrecht Durer's Melancholia was on my mind when I was working on 2017 No.11).
I am hoping to run. However, I am still learning to walk. Yesterday's drawing, and (actually) all the drawings of this past week, are me taking careful steps. One by one, they come slowly, carefully, deliberately. I am practicing. I am in search of the intrinsic and fundamental. Fundamental to me is form, pattern, compositional movement, variety, contrast, surface energy (created by rhythmic marks), and the dynamic of light versus darkness. This week has been weak on volume of works and the activity of painting. It has been one of low energy, but quality introspection. There is rhythm to discovery, invention, and creativity. I have great belief that living is filled with rhythm and rhyme. The idea that rhythm and rhyme can be mimed in art is beginning to be apparent in my drawing. At last! This technique of suggesting action, character, expression and emotion, by using only gesture and movement, is happening here.
Obvious to me, these drawings are prelude to my next painting, 2017 No.10. I intend to finish 2017 No.9 in the next three or four days.
Just when I thought it was safe I see a twist too much! As consequence, a distraction in effort is necessary. Can you see it? It's in the upper left of 2017 No.9. The lower edge of that rectangle rotates the eye down and out. The rectangle should be inconsequential. It should be a set up for the flurry of energy within the painting. Instead it distracts. It is never safe in the forest. Ticks are ready and waiting. Lucky I have the tools to make it right.
That said, state 7 of 2017 No.9 is better than state 6. And, yesterday's drawing is splendidly complex. How does this happen? Art-making is magic!
Yesterday was a day of distraction. I never really got rolling in the studio. I am in the midst of expanding my social media presence, which is not as straight forward as I had thought. For one thing, I did not know Instagram is a totally portable-device driven platform, for smartphones and tablets. I was not prepared, but I will be. Me on Instagram is coming! Actually I am on Instagram, but nothing is there because I don't have a device to put it there. This will change by the end of this week. I will tell you when you will be able to view me on Instagram.
For now I am exhilarated with my progress. Yesterday produced an exciting drawing, despite the distraction caused by my efforts to contemporize my social interaction. I invented a new approach. The drawing shown here has a couple of flat-ish complex forms in the background and a snake-like, U-shape form in the foreground. It animates both laterally, and also into and out of the artifice that is the third-dimension. This energetic visual movement is important to me. I enjoy the eye being given the thrill of a rollercoaster ride.
BTW: My Facebook page is up and running!
Not there yet... The painting "2016 No.15" requires more changes. Yesterday I did not go far enough with the vertical thrust on the left side. I am sampling the results of my recipe: wondering, too much this or too little of that? The diagonal movement of the polka-dotted plane has to be stabilized by a form more substantial than itself. The question, the problem to be solved, is how much verticality on the left is necessary to stabilize the entire composition. The only thing I know for sure is, "More than now!"
I do not like yesterday's first drawing, but the second has something new. In drawing No.2, the main form propels itself, bottom left to upper right. Talking about diagonal thrust, this is different from that seen in the painting "2016 No.15". There is an in, and an out, to the drawing's diagonal; plunging, a three dimensional poke!
The way I see it is this: Everything I did yesterday pursues an updraft. Going vertical! I could be persuading myself of this sense of movement, but if not, then why will I do what I shall do today? In the painting "2016 No.15" I will increase the up-movement. That upper-left, flat, plane-like object, will extend itself, most likely destroying the diagonal shadow-effect below it. The result will be its playing better with the polka-dotted, transitionary form that transforms itself behind the central table-like structure. How will this happen? I am unsure. It will be found in the doing.
One more thing before I go. I feel that I am... Welcome back!
Wait for it... Wait for it... Sometimes you just have to wait for it! It took a few weeks of observations, and a night of dreams, to get to the changes seen in this painting, Lava. The wait was filled with frustration, and anxiety. My suspicion, that something was wrong, is vindicated by the result. The new distortions, and new colors, enhance the painting. The enhancements are few, but their importance is great. Witness here a change in attitude, not simply a change in the physical make-up of a painting. Once again, I prove to myself, that intuition, i.e. knowledge hidden beneath layers of hyper-consciuoness, is more authentic than simple, superficial reasoning. I especially enjoy the leftward tilt of the major figure, reactive as it is against other forms in the painting. This play of forms is a play in motion, right, left, up, down, across, and back. Then there is the light, its contrast now animates from light to dark, stirred, as it is, by the pure white dabs added to the background. This version of Lava (#12) is by far the best. More importantly, it is a precursor of great things to come.
This drawing took me nearly four hours to complete. It is filled with normalcy and abnormality. Nobody has a nose like the man's, but the breast of the woman looks familiar. And so it goes — I am testing the waters of abstraction versus traditional figuration. For me, this is becoming a forever problem. Besides my addressing this issue of abstract forms versus more naturally derivative forms, I would like to point out the complexity of this drawing's space. The drawing, after all, is on a two dimensional piece of paper. Wandering through its space is a deceit, driven by form, perspective, light and shadow, and line. In this drawing, and in the drawing reproduced in my previous blog post, I have used lines to create surface values which simultaneously drive and animate space. The easiest place to see this occur is on the top of the box on which the woman sits.
It is important to me that you look carefully at one minor element: the woman's left hand. I drew that over and over, till it felt right, at least five times.
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