So, so close to completeness is the painting 2017 No.11. The large spherical form bothers me... not quite correct. Otherwise, I'm good! This painting has a lot of play in it. I am very comfortable with playfulness, so much so that I crave it. This painting's depiction of play means I am turning a major corner in life and art, from serious, pedantic investigation to an explosion of playfulness. The dictionary defines playfulness as this: "the quality of being light-hearted or full of fun." Dictionary examples of usage include, "images of childlike innocence and playfulness" and "his work displays a playfulness and sense of humor." This reminds me of Pablo Picasso's famous quote, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."
Sometimes I see my work as nothing new, nothing different, and stuck within the framework of historical standards in place 50 years ago. This is me at my most fearful. Yesterday's drawing brought this up. Competent, but unlike the work currently getting high notice by reviewers of Art in America and The New Yorker. Could be I need to change. Could be I am not open enough to my own instincts. Could be I am early on a road to personal definition. Could be I am right and the rest of the world needs to catch on.
Outside of my fears, let me tell you the way I see yesterday's drawing. I played with forms that are well known to all. I bent them till they filled the page with animation, big to little, normal to abnormal, light to dark, round to sharp, repetition of the similar versus contrast of the dissimilar. I enjoyed the labored process of seeking and finding. It was iterative: mark, erase, mark, erase, mark, et cetera. The problem was eventually solved. However, the final product does not grab the viewer with enough surprise as to engage on the deepest levels of emotion and intellect. Obviously, I need to think about my process and its outcomes. I want to engage my contemporaries. I want them to jump in, to partake in a conversation. First comes the engagement. Communication will follow. I need to work on this.
On Friday (January 29), my ART Business Day, I worked hard on a new set of Business Cards and Art Portfolio Post Cards. It was a 12 hour work day. The next day I had no creative energy (Saturday, January 30), so... I took a day of reading and watching TV-Series. Yesterday I did get into the studio. Like many days when I return to the studio after time away, I felt a bit foggy about direction. The result is a couple of playfully instructive drawings. I like them very much. It had been a while since I intensely foreshortened a figure. It has been a while since I had taken two characters and aggressively contrasted them in size and scale. Fun. I am still a bit tired. I am going to take tomorrow as a "Rest and Recreation Day". Today is my Money Monday. My next post will be Thursday, February 4.
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.
I thought of several choices to title today's post, which included, "Don't shoot the messenger", and "Real work has returned". All these titles are appropriate, and concise. Unlike the previous two posts, I want to say something about process!
Soon after reproducing the previous version of Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014, I began to dislike the right panel. (BTW: I now give you two ways to observe my blog's reproductions: in its given small format, and in a larger format when selected with a click.) Yesterday I did much to dismantle the right panel's problems, but did not solve it. I played with incongruent sizes. The overall result continues to be disturbing. However, the angle of her head, and "X" of her body, are more satisfactory. Today I'll shrink her head, and will try to angle it correctly, hopefully making it collaborate better, and conspire, with the man in the left panel. This will cause the man in the left panel to react. Let the games begin!
I do like the few changes I made to the central panel (the man's head, and the blue vase and its table).
Yesterday's drawing is interesting, albeit a basic rehash of known ideas. The drawing is more practice than inspired revelation.
...and so it goes! I had forgotten the little trick of increasing the size of an image by simply clicking on it. Both of today's reproduction will enlarge if you click. In the case of the triptych, this really helps! Again, I do not yet feel the impulse to say much about my current work. It is coming quickly. When working, I have the unusual feeling that I know what must be done, moment to moment. Storing energy by being away from the studio has its benefits and one of them is the energetic plunge you see reproduced today. I hope you enjoy it with me!
You may miss the changes in Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 during your first quick glance at today's reproduction of the painting. They may appear minor because of the small size of the reproduction. But, again, they are surprisingly important. Zoom in (its in HD!). In the left panel you will see the changes in the feet and legs of the woman, and in the right hand of the man. Mostly I worked on the woman's feet and legs. Her back leg moved forward, and her toes became defined. Her legs, one after the other, generate a vertical plane which produces a spatial corridor between the man and the woman. It is important compositionally, and emotionally!
For the last two days my studio time has been divided like this: First, Experimental drawing. Second: Enhancing minor elements of Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. Yesterday I spent two-thirds of my time on the drawing. It is difficult to believe, but the decision making on the woman's feet and legs took well over an hour. Basically. I think I can sustain this daily rhythm of working for at least another week. As you know, I very much want to move onto the next painting, but I feel this is as important to me as "Joy of Life" was to Matisse and "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" was to Picasso (both reproduced below my work).
I have been trying to talk myself into the belief that Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is complete. But every time I touch the painting, it gets better. Yesterday I learned something important. I worked on the hands of the man in the right panel. I was startled by the importance of these hands, not just because of the emotional expression they add to the figure, but also compositionally. The fingers on his right hand (on viewer's left) act as a small plane which helps the viewer fall into the composition using its third-dimensional aspect. I am bolstered by this success. That right man's hands are not complete, but I will wait a day or two for the oil to dry before completing them. Today I will work on the woman's feet in the left panel. Tomorrow I will report to you my perception of this seemingly minor change. I thought the man's hands I changed yesterday to be a minor alteration. Perhaps defining the the woman's feet will be just as important as the man's hands. I really would like to move onto the next painting, but the knowledge I am absorbing as I continue to work on Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is just too important. What I learn now will stay with me forever.
I wrote in yesterday's post that I am accepting my total fascination with the surfaces of three-dimensional forms. You can see this in yesterday's drawing. Yesterday I reproduced a Lucian Freud etching in order to exhibit a common thread between him and I. Today I show you an early Matisse, where he, in his imitable way, plays with the color and light on the three-dimensional surface of the face and upper torso of a woman.
My intense experimentation with drawing is leading me optimistically, one to the next. My investigation of the means to reproduce these drawings falls way short of satisfaction (Complaint: I just can't seem to reproduce the subtlety of the pencil line with its vast range of values. Also, I can't seem to get close to good reproduction without the white paper looking gray).
I am surprised, and nurtured, by my recent drawings. Each seems better than the last. Each feels more like me. Yes, I want to return to painting, and yes I want to begin the new triptych, but also, yes, I need to finish the diptych, Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 (which, after the recent series of drawings, feels very old and limited to me).
Yesterday's drawing plays with the male and female form, with many contrasts and distortions. I am truly enjoying my playfulness. I am getting closer to expression of my true and unique self.
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