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)
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.
There are things about an advanced Van Gogh painting, or drawing, I really like. The representational quality is good, but it is the abstracted visual play which engages me most. While making yesterday's drawings I was occasionally reminded of Vincent Van Gogh's use of line and stroke. As Vincent marked his drawings, and his painting, he thought rhythmically, always cognizant of the overall music within forms and the surfaces of everything, from the three-dimensional quality of the forms themselves to the two-dimensional marks on the surface of the paper or canvas. These drawing's echo Vincent's quality of mark. They make me realize that I am very engaged by the abstraction in his best works. I am constantly involved in similar qualities, but I will not go so far as to say I emulate Vincent Van Gogh's mannerisms.
I do not want, or need, to say much about yesterday's drawing. it surprised me! I feel a WOW! factor when I look at it. Besides the subject matter being "found", there is also the finding of so much more, i.e. forms invented, space invented, values subtly altered to create movement and light, and the use of line to move the viewer rhythmically and to stretch out the perspective. Wow! I am surprised and impressed.
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).
There is this human desire to "get there." It isn't going to happen. Each drawing, each work of art, is just a stepping stone along a path leading to no particular place, but a place of firmer knowledge then where I am right now. In other words, as I wrote yesterday, I am being swept down a funnel, and a vast sea awaits me, but I shall always be in the funnel. Perhaps "the funnel" is, therefore, a poor analogy. Instead of getting squeezed, I am opening up. I am, however, slipping and sliding, stripping out the misdirections. The funneling process is me allowing myself to be frictionless. I am allowing the fall, I am allowing myself to be swept away by the flood. The funnel is the narrowing of accepted truths. The water of the flood is the enormous amount of relevant knowledge.
Yesterday produced two interesting drawings. The first feels traditional, yet is high in quality. The forms are extremely well felt. The second is about space, and using the human head as a round form, compositionally moving the viewer in and out of the picture plane while simultaneously designing the two--dimensional rectangle. This interest of mine, the 3-D versus the 2-D, brings me back to Cezanne. To make my point, two Cezanne Still-Life paintings are shown after my work. The first is just apples, like human heads running across the page. The second Cezanne is much more complex, powerful in its forms, rhythms, color, and spatial play. The technical finesse of this painting is as demanding as anything achieved by another master of three-dimensional rendering, Pablo Picasso. I have a feeling I will soon make a Still-Life painting myself.
I did not paint, as I had intended. I did draw. Like a repetitive dream, I keep revisiting a flash of an idea. It is a painting with a few heads dominating the composition. Yesterday's first drawing tackled this problem. It is a very good start toward the solution. There is much to be learned about me in this drawing #1. I love the forms, how they dominate the composition and force the eye to role around and through the entire compositional structure. I also find their light filled, robust three-dimentionality, exhilarating. This drawing works well at multiple viewing distances, from the textures created by the lines, to the reading of the forms' details, to the composition experienced when the viewer backs off 10 feet from the image. I also like the way the guy on the right has his eyes rolling around, looking for a truth to grasp.
Last night the AVA Gallery Summer Show opened. I attended. I picked up my rejected painting, "Window." First impression of the exhibition was the enormous amount of abstract work. In fact, the figurative work was relegated to the rear gallery. Second impression, this juror likes busy compositions. Third impression, "Window" did not fit in this exhibition, as it is larger than other paintings in the show and it has an expansive, figurative composition. I still feel failure, because "Window" lacks surface complexity; I admire Van Gogh's solution to surface animation. "Window" is deficient in this higher level of intricacy, as it demands an overall comprehension of large areas without challenging the viewer to acknowledge the contrapuntal surface rhythms. This leaves me with the need to do more to solve this problem. I want my paintings to speak to all people on all levels, from the abstract to the concrete. My recent drawings are moving in this direction. I am finding a way to animate more than just the figures. I have returned to drawing clothed figure because cloth allows me to find an additional level of graphic music.
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