It is all new to me! Yesterday I did these unusual drawings, then spent a few hours preparing the new painting wall. The wall will allow me to tack canvas quickly and easily onto a flat surface. I will save hours because this means no constructing of wooden supports and no stretching the canvas across supports. The canvas will come right off the roll, right onto the painting surface. Lickety-split I am into painting!
Drawings from 9/13/2015, both pencil on paper, 20X16 inches
It is true. I have discovered that the playful wanderlust of the line, the invention of form, and the feel of atmosphere, appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities. Yesterday's drawings exhibit nascent possibilities. I am excited by the potential, the range of choices, of this action plan.
The problem I now have is my desire to explore has exploded. I do not want to take the time to manufacture stretched canvases. So today, taking a cue from my mentor, Philip Guston, I will manufacture a painting wall designed to tack up canvas straight off the roll. My current painting wall is designed to hang stretched canvases. I have never worked this way before. But, if the plan works, I will be able to place canvas on the wall and begin to paint within seconds. New problems will arise, e.g. how do I store the very pliable, newly painted, canvases, as they come off the wall? I'm going to stop now, as pre-planning never solves a real problem in the best possible manner.
It is making me very nervous. I feel I have lost the desire for routine. Routine is being replaced with acceptance of mystery. You will have to see this to believe it. And so will I. When I step into the studio today I will go from a warm-up with a drawing to looking for answers in the painting Tee-Shot. Warming-up with a drawing sounds like routine, so perhaps the loss I am writing about is me not knowing where I am and where I am going. It is acceptance of discovery in the here and now. My images on paper and canvas will no longer have definitive precedents. This is a strange mode of behavior. I have routinely looked to yesterday's work to determine the direction I am going. It does not feel like that any longer. Discomfort of unknowing is mine.
I am not sure of the exact meaning of yesterday's drawing, posted above, but it could be two of me. The left guy is erect, confident, with large, open hands; he is strong and ready to go. The right guy is leaning back, leaning away, head sideways; he appears fragile with his small, closed hands. The right guy definitely lacks confidence. I am feeling very good about my artistic development. I will never be fully satisfied, but I am relishing the journey. I believe, for the first time, that I have gathered the necessary tools to do whatever needs to be done. I have reached a high degree of mastery. I have confidence I can achieve that which I can conceive. Through my art I want to interact with the world. This blog exists because I want to communicate. However, this blog's limitations are obvious. Therefore, I accept the necessity to engage in the business of art. I need to get my art out there, into venues that may be seen by those who are emotionally engaged in the visual arts. I also wish to make my art accessible to all and everyone. This brings me to today. In the past I have had many exhibitions, shown my work in important galleries, and been juried into competitive shows. During the past four years I have stepped back from that sort of engagement and I have been writing this blog, exhibiting my work here. Late last year I began to feel the need to step back into the brick and mortar world of gallery exhibitions. I put out a few feelers and applied to several juried competitions. Nothing happened. Call it rejection. So, today I begin to think as a businessman who happens to have visual art as his product. Every Friday I am going to devote time to this effort. Today is Friday.
Untitled Drawings-02·08·2015 Nos. 1, 2, pencil on paper, 11X14 inches
Compositional play is so important to me that today I continue to show the drawings in "Gallery" format, despite there being only two. This allows you to get the compositional impact first, then, if you choose, you can CLICK upon a reproduction to see it in full screen.
About today's title, I need to explain something to my readers about my artistic development. Twenty-seven years ago I was an artist making Three-Dimentional Abstractions that were getting a lot of notice and critical praise (see some of these at MEHRBACH.com). But I was not making enough money to support myself and my family. I had to go to work. I taught for 22 years. Those years interrupted my natural development as an artist. They were years of happiness, of personal learning, but also of frustration. I grew as a person, but Looking back, the depth of my artistic knowledge seems to have grown slowly, or not at all. I now have enough freedom to, day after day, be in the studio. The last four and a half years have increased my artistic knowledge. I am feeling more competent now than I have for many years. Day-to-day work is necessary to unravel the confusion that is me. My optimism is increasing with every day of self-discovery. I can do this, and perhaps I can get to making the work I was born to make. Time is limited. Loss of time is my biggest fear. I work like an athlete, in my life and in the studio. If I am to succeed, health is primary.
I am becoming aware the rotation in my drawings moves from simple to complex and from small to large. In a way, all my drawings are studies for my painting, even though, on the quick look, the subject matter appears distant, or not related at all. My activity in drawing is based upon my queries about painting. Yesterday's drawing is actually a study for the woman in the right panel of the painting Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014. Her sensuality is going up. In the last few states I have been dealing with this change in her personality. Thus comes yesterday's drawing of a sensual female. Yes, the woman in the drawing appears a lot different than the woman in the painting. It is a study in mood, not a simple study of physiognomy.
Why do I feel these things? I see problems and possible solutions, but I am not simply happy. immediately upon viewing today's reproduction of the painting Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 I see a problem, and it glares at me. The left panel is not reacting as well as it might; it should play better with the other two panels. The left panels is too upright. I believe it requires a rotational structure to animate it, and contrast it, with the other two panels. Funny it seems, because the lines on the back wall of the left panel instigate a rotation. However, those lines complete nothing. Do I know the solution? No! But I know the problem, and that's a beginning. Writing this informs me of a fundamental concern of mine: compositional animation and balance. Its importance is rearing it head. But there is much more to me than that. Look at yesterday's drawing. I continue my efforts to scrape the surface of the human face in my quest of subtle emotional expression. I couldn't make this stuff up. It is primal. I know not where my concerns originate.
The colors in Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 are deeper than those seen in the actual painting. This is my effort to allow you to see the new shadows occurring behind the man in the left panel. It is obvious to me that the left and right panels demand immediately attention and alterations. Today is annoyingly my business day, so the required changes will have to wait until tomorrow.
Yesterday's drawing is interesting is its succinct forms, light, and spatial dialogue. I rather enjoyed making it. I regret a bit that it took up three-quarters of yesterday's studio time to produce because the painting Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 is calling for me to push it toward finality. This said, yesterday's drawing was actually a necessary study for the man in the left panel of the painting. In the drawing I play with a man against a wall. This prepared me for the play of shadows cast by the man in the left panel of the painting.
The question which keeps bugging me is, "Why don't I know more quickly?" This process is slow, full of testing and failures. The woman in the right panel of Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 is getting closer to appearing well enough to accept, but she ain't there yet! The look on her head is better. I believe her head is too large. At this point the woman's head in the right panel does not play effectively with the man's head in the left panel. The size of her head places her in a world apart, so her head must diminish in order to bring her back into the overall composition.
Yesterday's drawing was approached differently than usual. I let it fall on the paper, rather than forced it upon the paper. In other words, I did not begin with an idea. I made stroke after stroke, seeking forms which made sense within the developing composition. I carefully watched the developing forms for impact and quality. This method brought me back to the days when I made abstract three dimensional compositions. It made me think, that possibly, I am more about the abstract power of a picture than the figurative power. This will continue to be tested. The range of my work has been restricted by my dedication to the figure. I am uncomfortable with restrictions.
The new triptych is looking promising. However, the studio is so clogged that I don't have much room to move. It is difficult making large paintings, as it requires me to wander though a maze of old paintings to see the one currently on the painting wall. Not good. I have neglected organization for too long. Paintings are stacked all over the place. I have also neglected my website, Mehrbach.com. So this is what I must do: I will devote the next couple of weeks to organization of website and studio. I have been intending to do this for a quite some time, but I have put it off because art-making feels better to me than organizing. Now is good timing. I recently finished a major work (Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014) and I am just beginning another major work (Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014). This means I will stop making art while I organize. This also means I will stop posting here during the time I am organizing. Please check here periodically. "I'll be back!"
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At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.