Swimming in the open ocean is for the self-determined. It is risk-taking. Without risk-taking my art would be repetitive, I'd be bored, and I would have no chance of self-realization. Strange instigates change, instigates reality. Reality is deceptive. It confuses the ability to see truth. As example, there is a reality defined by the likes and dislikes of commercial art gallery dealers. They like art they know, not art that challenges them. This is not just from me. Jean-Michel Basquiat (from the little book, Basquiat-isms) said, "Most identifiable things are what [commercial art dealers] like. I did some portraits last year and they really hated those. But the artists like them." This was exactly my experience with my three recent exhibitions. This does not make me feel better or worse. I feel a need to question all my past art, a need to create chaos in order to seek true ground. This happened yesterday. If yesterday's images disturb you, then good for you and good for me.
In life there is struggle to see clearly. The murkiness of people, things, and emotions obscure easy access. Muck, rubbish, and dirt get in the way of truth-telling; clarity is found by consistently pushing the falderal out of one's way. Such is my journey. Reason is not enough. This is slow because the rubbish is much. Yesterday's drawing dealt with this dichotomy. There is left and right; there is heaven and earth. There is darkness and light. The left is shadowed, invokes a search for nuance. The right is easier on the eyes; it invokes simplicity and strength. The monument on the right is clear. The monument on the left struggles to be seen. Both monuments are pyramids, one tall and lean, one fat yet sturdy in its dark surroundings. Obvious, there is play between murkiness & limpidity.
One of my most remarkable self-discoveries is an emotive image does not require realistic light. There is no need for faithful reference because it is the power of the image and the power of the forms that strike the viewer as real. Reality, accurate to the world we walk in, is unnecessary. The reality of the image is all that is in front of the viewer and therefore it is accepted as reality. Nobody does this better than Anselm Kiefer. His near-abstract images glow with light. They are lightly colored, mostly grey and white, yet their realities are emotionally potent. I learn as I make.
The revelation of personal religious zeal is the heaven that is found within the momentary realization that the mark made is earthly correct. As I accept this premise my art becomes more me and more real. More real is surprising since its abstraction from the experiential data allows it to resemble the world I have experienced without mimicking that world. Here I am today showing you one more drawing on my road toward acceptance. This is what I do.
Today's drawing is self-real, yet also plays falsely within its own stated reality. Do you see the mark approximately one-third from the left and one-third from the top? It is simply a mark amongst a plethora of forms. The forms pretend to be three-diemsional, but the mark is just a mark, a splotch on the page. It is a required mark. Without it the back and forth force of this composition would be relentless, and questionable. It would lack grounding. This mark grounds it. It allows the forms to play with energy against the mark's static, solid touch to paper.
Confusion is here. Yesterday's drawings show it. I am sorting out image priorities. References to actual forms seen in our visual reality may be there, maybe not.
Drawings from 1/6/2016, pencil on paper, 20X16 inches
Yes, it is me, the dog! I am back and doing what dogs do. Like a habit unbroken, I will follow my master. The problem is... I am still learning about that which my master demands. I have written this before: Perhaps painting will sort this out more efficiently than drawing. My reasoning? I find that the longer term give and take of the process of painting, and its larger format, causes me to pay more attention to the thoroughly authentic. This is in contrast to the transient ideas I sometimes entertain in my drawing.
Yesterday's images were all over the place, but they are united in their acceptance of my internal reality. I live in place far away from the hubbub of humanity. This allows me to dwell, to contemplate, then make an effort to unravel my confusion. Confusion is born of past experiences misunderstood, or never fully understood. I have taken upon myself the job of exploring this vast, untidy, mystifying ocean of bewilderment and wonderment.
Walt Whitman wrote it better than I (see Whitman's poem at end of today's Blog Post).
I am the flinging spider, looking for things to hold onto. Moving from one hold to another, always... "Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them; Till the bridge [I form be a] ductile anchor hold; Till the gossamer thread [I] fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul."
Spider Fling, by Walt Whitman
I am feeling confused around the edges. I have been called to jury duty, beginning next week. It feels like my life has lost a bit of its freedom. My passion to freely explore is the main reason I chose art as a career and life-style. I have no idea how the jury system works, but I will be on-call for two months, March and April. I tell you this without too many details because it is the psychological effect of my not being totally in charge of my time that is already affecting my art. While in process, the drawings shown today felt this confusion. I show Drawing #2 first because its candor more obviously shows my confusion. Drawing #1 exhibits a loss of center, as I fall back to drawing a couple, which I am apt to do when I do not clearly feel the ground beneath my art-making impetus. I am hoping the Court System is kind to me and does not take me far away from the art I am in the process of making. I truly feel that I am currently tapping into a wellspring of personally soulful content. My reluctance to give up my daily work, in lieu of my obligation to the government, is weighing on me. I do not want to dwell on this too much. I will do that which I must do, because I do not have a choice. It's like death and taxes.
Drawings-02·20·2015 Nos. 1, 2, & 3, pencil on paper, 11X14 inches
Woe are reproductions. There is nothing like reality, obviously! The fly has to move. And the search for relevancy is simple when true. Writing about nothing is impossible. This is the reason sticking to reality is simple. There is nothing but reality, except reproductions. Which are neither simple nor true. Are you following this?
The question, "Is it right?", will forever be unanswered. My job is to keep seeking, to make a consistent effort to be true to myself during the moments of creation, and to keep looking for truth and deceptions. I must nurture the truth. That's all there is to this art-making.
Yesterday's drawing was a stab at the satisfaction I am seeking. I made the forms, and the composition, with little fanfare, little criticism, and a lot of asking, "Does this feel good?" Yes, it does! I like the forms, I like the punctuations of dark values which animate the passage of light through the composition. It is this play of values, this light versus dark punctuation on forms, that creates the artifice of light, that I very much enjoy. The reference to natural forms may, or may not, be important. I am researching this, but at this time I have no definitive answer... "To reference natural forms or to create my own?" Perhaps the sweet spot for me is a combination of reference to visual nature while accepting open invention of form not seen before. This would allow me to step from the place I visually inhabit to an art that sings with my internalized visions and dreams. This sounds about right to me!
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