Adolph Gottlieb's works have always fascinated me. I know why. I am struggling fro self-expressive potency; my images never fully satisfy me. Gottlieb's works use a simple formula, over and over. Gottlieb uses a round, cleanly organized shape in contrast to an explosive, jumbled shape; in addition, his images exude positive-shape intensity against supportive, residual negative space. The positive shapes are rich, the negative space lends them fierce interest. This contrast, of shapes and space, sings a potent, emotional message. I do not make flat shapes. My complex, three-dimensional forms have greater opportunity to sing emotions than do Gottlieb's simple, flat shapes. I will stay my course. Gottlieb's simple formula educates; his formula lends charge to visual imagery; his exude husky, emotional responses. In this regard, I believe I can go further than Gottlieb. Adolf Gottlieb's limited formula has instructed me; simple contrast has great possibilities; obtaining more accurate self-expression is possible!
Negative space continues as a major concern. In this regard, I often think of Vincent Van Gogh. His drawings, and his paintings, exhibit deep concern for every portion of the surface. I too am concerned with surface minutia. In yesterday's drawing I tried to animate the negative space through shape contrast and play. I believe it works! Today, as contrary research, I will touch every smidgen of the surface with a mark.
I uploaded a higher resolution reproduction of the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 today. This allows you to increase its size on your computer screen so details can be seen without breakup of its quality. The small step I took yesterday was on the man in the left panel, and surrounding him. On my screen the reproduction is, by default, 6 inches across. In this default reproduction his face appears too round and his chin line a bit too much in the shape of a simple curve. Zooming in you will see better. Of course, I want to make this painting work from all viewing distances. So despite me bragging about yesterday's successful small step, I will make his head work better today. If I appear elated to you, it is because I know the man in the left panel is now authentic. I am in the 34th state of this painting and it is finally in site of completion! For the first time in a long time I feel compelled to finish a painting completely. This does not mean extreme details, like pupils in the eyes, but cleanliness in the quality of the paint, forms, colors, and composition.
Yesterday's drawing is my evil twin. I don't like it much, but it was worthwhile practice. I experimented with shape versus form, and the variations in value required to create the nuances of minor expressive forms within the major form of the face.
After my recent flirtation with Modigliani I have returned to the painting Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 with more clarity. Yesterday I worked on the man on the left. The composition is better. Increased clarity comes because I have accepted the conflict between shape and volume. Shapes are the nails that secure this painting's composition, while the volumes create the 3-dimensional reference to visual reality. The volumes also create a secondary compositional play as the viewer moves in and out, up and down, and through the forms.
Yesterday's drawings exhibit my continuing fascination with shape versus volume versus reference to visual reality. Yes, I have upped my desire to deal with this conundrum. So, today's title refers to the consequent increased richness of my work. I am asking myself more questions. I have more problems to solve. I have accepted an increase in the level of difficulty. Wow, I'm enjoying this!
This drawing was made in two isolated spurts. A couple of household problems arose, so my day was divided. Nevertheless, I am happy with this drawing because it reckoned with my recent flirtation with Modigliani and the competition in my work between shape and volume. Modigliani solved this problem in his own way, and now I am in the midst of solving it for myself. I love the artifice of volume on a two-dimensional surface. This has led me to the enjoyment of the art of people such as Amedeo Modigliani (who solved this problem in a peculiarly early 20th century manner), but also to the art of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) and Georges de La Tour (1593-1652).
By meat, I mean the painting. Right now copious amounts of information are being gathered in my drawing, every time I draw. Yesterday's drawing shows this again. I have wondered if the distractions of the holidays, which restricted my studio time, was good or bad for my painting. Yes, it did delay the paint going on canvas, but I cannot discount the enormous amount of drawings I did as a source of strength and information. Drawing is the training for the more sustained concentration that is painting. The urge to paint is upon me. More important is the welling up of confidence that the recent spate of drawings has given me. The gathered knowledge, which is this feeling of strength required to enter a painting with optimism that nothing is too difficult to solve, also translates into the feeling that no subject can lack the requirements to animate my attention. This makes me think about Luc Tuymans. He bounces around with disparate choices of subject matter. Tuymans loves the human head, but also finds interesting compositions in many mundane objects of this world and makes nearly abstract works with these images. To illustrate this contrast I show two of Luc Tuymans' works. I can see this happening to me. The idea that every subject is expressively interesting is an outgrowth of the knowledge that drawing is expressive in itself when informed with its vast qualities, its ability to express by line, form, value, contrast, shape, and composition.
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