The introspection immersed within my approach is constant. I worry about this. If approach has consistency, does it also contain habit and bias? There is an old saying, "If a hammer is the only thing one has, the entire world looks like a nail." If my habitual mind is all I have, do I approach everything with the same bias? I do believe there is revelation in both the painting and the drawing I show today. Process and progress are complicated problems. As much as I am making the effort to discover myself I making an effort to discover a process devoid of bias.
I have long feared complexity as possible harbinger of confusion. Yesterday's drawing did not tap into this fear. I felt control and clarity. Looking at this drawing, as reproduced here, I believe I did succeed in layering the complex, yet creating simplicity of comprehension. This drawing is about balance: balance of forms, balance of compositional movements, and balance of value and contrast. It works for me!
I will make few comments today. Yesterday's work fits exactly the definition of today's title (from Wikipedia - see quote at bottom). The drawings are elegant. I find them unusual, but satisfying. I never know where I am going, but I do know this concatenation of refinement feels right.
Honing is an abrasive machining process that produces a precision surface on a metal workpiece by scrubbing an abrasive stone against it along a controlled path. Honing is primarily used to improve the geometric form of a surface, but may also improve the surface texture.
A friend of mine commented on the painting 2017 No.6, saying there were lots of hard edges, that he would like to see a soft, pillow-like shape in it. This made me aware that my work lacks another possible type of contrast: soft versus hard. My work is filled with contrast, but it lacks soft forms. Without using soft forms I am restricting myself from an additional expressive possibility. Soft forms should be one more arm in my arsenal. Yesterday's drawings began with an intention to test this additional contrasting agent. I think I failed. That major form on the left in drawing No.1 was intended to be a soft form. Soft success or no, I do think these drawings are good ones.
Before you leave me today, please take a look at the painting I reproduce below, Anselm Kiefer's The Fertile Crescent. This painting, which is stark in color, filed with the artifice of three-dimensional depth and natural white light, stirs me. It reassures me that my conviction is correct: Alluding to the third-dimension, on a flat two-dimensional surface, is emotionally powerful and expressive.
When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon he said (as quoted by Wikiquote), "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Notice the [a] before "man." That correction is required in my title too. This blog is about "The Ascent of [a] Man." This quote is the title of Jacob Bronowski's 1973 TV series. My mind is quickening. It is me in realization. I am waking up. Every day I understand more deeply than the day before. This is not comforting. I feel like an infant in front of an abyss, an abyss of knowledge. There is just too much. I am mortal, I have just a certain amount of time and energy.
The painting "2017 No.6" is nearing its end. As I act upon this painting I am, disappointingly, looking forward. Perhaps you can see my forward thinking in the drawings I post today.
These are the moments when the powerful mind or the forceful character feels the ferment of the times, when his thoughts quicken, and when he can inject into the uncertainties of others the creative ideas which will strengthen them with purpose. At such a moment the man who can direct others, in thought or in action, can remake the world. -Jacob Bronowski
There is an inaugural sensation to the painting "2017 No.2". It plays with space and light in new ways. It is hopeful in its brightness and clarity. It radiates something new. It is the beginning of a new period of personal artistic substance.
Yesterday's drawing has a black cloud, a wall of stone, and a ground with ominous objects. Yet it is filled with light. Life is good!
The magic of Joan Miro's late paintings are not the images, but the play of big to small. You can see a reproduction of one of Miro's late paintings at the end of today's post. I mention, and exhibit, a Miro painting because of yesterday's changes in my painting, "2016 No.18". I have an asterisk-like, three-dimensional star at the top of my painting; Miro has an asterisk-like form (albeit two-dimensional) at the top of his painting. Both play small against otherwise large forms. Yesterday's drawings exhibit this quality as well. Big/Small really helps to animate an image. Yesterday I mentioned Carol Bove's work, which is very involved in this big/small thing as well. This is no surprise since all good art has this consciousness. Bove is showing her work right now at David Zwirmer's gallery (New York City).
For reasons I will not explain, yesterday I had very little time in the studio. The one drawing is interesting to me, but not as interesting as my interrelation with the painting "2016 No.18". Light! That's my idea! My play of light across the artifice of the three-dimentional surfaces I create is too static. Too often I go with a light source on the left, shadows are cast to the right. Looking at "2016 No.18", I realized the set-up is redundantly mine, but needs not be. I must play with alternatives.
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.
Perhaps growth and development is bent and strange and circular, like space-time warped within our intellectual, emotional cavity. Several times I have seen space-time, and time travel, described like a piece of paper that can be folded back upon itself. My mind seems to work this way too. I return, I warp, but always perceive myself as moving forward.
I began a new painting yesterday. This is "2016 No.17". It does not feel revolutionary, but happily summative. That which I know is realized. This is me sitting pretty. I think I am accepting the place I am right now. In getting to know myself I have realized this: My pleasure in knowing something won't last long. I will enjoy it while I can. I believe this painting will spill from me like water from an overfilled pitcher. I am releasing tension, the over-filled container that I am, by simply doing, nice and easy.
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