There is an investigative vitality to these drawings. They pop in your face; they sing a language filled with contrast and scale, in/out, back/forth, dark/light, big/little, push/pull. This is my vision becoming me; theses are my intellect/emotions becoming visually real. These exhibit art-making as similar to mediation; practice makes me better at R.A.I.N. (Recognize Emotions, Accept, Investigate, Non-Identify/Detach).
Yesterday's drawing is me better realizing my roots. The drawings from the previous two days of studio activity look and feel wrong. Wrong in the sense that those previous drawings appear too figuratively attached. I believe they are good drawings. Good in terms of all things formal, i.e., composition, value and size contrast, use of scale, the use of light and the third-dimension. Confusion is easy. Clarity is hard. The clarifying factor was the beginning of the painting 2017 No.9. It feels right. The struggle today is to keep it right. This is the discipline that is necessary in order to be successful in this game of making art
Shocking? Not really! I just like the title I used for today's blog because I have enjoyed the wonderful book of the same name by Art critic Robert Hughes. Making Art "is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get." (This quote from the film "Forest Gump" is also, obviously, not new.) The NEW is the painting, and the drawing, because every thing I make is new. The painting I began yesterday does surprise me. It feels aggressive in its contrasting use of forms, scaled big to little. At the same time this painting is forcing the three-dimensional artifice of space, of which I am fond.
Yesterday's drawing looks like a mix of things recent: NOT so NEW!
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).
I wish I could tell you that I am always laser-focused, that I always know exactly what I am doing. It doesn't work that way; not for me. Yesterday's drawing surprised me. It is a strange notion. I do not like it. I must have felt it necessary. Something must have interested me! I will give you a nearly useless explanation: It is a study in quirky questions: ◆How far can you lean a figure without disturbing its equilibrium? ◆Can you play with form within a figure and make it feel right (small hands, large head, weird distorted breast)? ◆Can scraping the floor (on which the figure seemingly stands) with linear marks, in an abstracted manner, balance an otherwise off-kilter composition? I could go on with other questions, but this would continue a hopeless and ineffectual exercise when compared to real art-making activity.
Yesterday was all about the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014, now in its 36th state. Good stuff happened, and it is getting there, but it will take a few more revisions before I find it fully acceptable. Small things continue to bother me. The man in the left panel is almost right, but his lips are too small. Once again, zooming in makes all look better. Which means the intermediate and close viewing distances work well, but the longer distance, as seen on my screen, needs repair. Remember, this painting is 10 feet across, so the figures are approximately life size, especially the one's in the left panel.
The painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 took a turn toward "rightness" with yesterday's changes to the man in the left panel. However, looking at the entire diptych, the man in the right panel needs revision. His stature (or lack of it) is important to the meaning of the painting, both compositionally and emotionally. After the corrections to the man in the left panel, the head of the man in the right panel appears too large. The work demanded by this complex painting is incredibly absorbing and demanding. I am not tired yet. I am dedicated to finishing this painting properly. Somehow I know this painting is a turning point in the acquisition of the knowledge I require to express myself.
Yesterday's drawing is one more study for the man in the left panel of the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. Take it for what it is, but once again I have to tell you that the reproductions that appear here pale compared to the actual works. There is no way the subtle play of the pencil lines, and their value contrasts, can be reproduced properly. Even more difficult to reproduce is the complex color values and hues in a painting, especially one as large as Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014. Don't worry, I will give you some lead time before these works are shown in exhibition.
It seems I enjoy playing with three dimensions on two dimensional paper or canvas. I will follow this instinct. Spatial play is imbedded in my intuition. The only comment I have about the new painting is the man's head is too large. I'll rub it out today and do it again. Yesterday's drawing also exhibits playfulness with 3D space.
The size of my paper and canvas have a rather large impact on the look and feel of my art. The drawing below is cramped compared to the drawings shown in the previous two posts. This because it is on 11 X 14 inch paper, while the others were on 16 X 20 inch paper. The painting shown above is on 42 X 56 inch canvas, while most of my recent paintings have been 52 X 60 inch canvases. Again, the painting shown above feels uncomfortably restricted compared to my other recent and larger canvases. In fact, if I am going to be able to deal with the space I want to create to express myself more adequately I feel I must go even larger in my paintings (I have stretchers for 60 X 72 inch canvases).
The figures within the artificial three-dimensional spaces I am creating are too dominating; the human figures' scale relative to the space is too large. For me, this means I need to go larger in terms of paper and canvas size. My recent drawings are 11 X 14 inch paper, and the paintings are mostly 52 X 60 inches. The images I seek require both space and figures; one must not dominate the other. All the elements, the space and the figures, have their emotional qualities and quantities to contribute to the expression.
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