This work is self explanatory. To see my philosophical direction, and its effect on my imagery, shuttle back to yesterday's blog, then return here. Truth is simple; I am working toward simple truth.
Simplicity leads to my presence. Yesterday's dramatic move of the painting, "No Living Thing Can Exist Without It", is toward simplicity. Its current version (state 9) calls out clearly; in other words, it is more convincingly me, than it was before yesterday's alteration. Yesterday's drawing also shows I cam be complex and simple at the same time.
I am using a sketchbook again. You will not see it here because it is sketch notes to myself. It is teaching me basic needs. It is teaching me the simplicity of vision. I do need to change directions. I do need to go short and sweet. My work, too often, becomes complex. Too often I have solved problems by adding to complexity, rather than paring down to simple messaging. Yesterday's drawing exhibits my confusion. It has duplicity, and self awareness. Yesterday's drawing wants to go simple, but ends with a complexity of forms. Number and kinds of forms can distract. Going toward fewer forms is not necessarily going too little. There are all kind is of ways of making simplicity, sparsity of forms, into grand statements, ones filled with emotion and meaning. I am on the road to blunt and purposeful art. Keeping ideas alive, minute by insightful minute, will help. This is the reason for carrying a sketchbook, everywhere and always. I often awake with insights. My sketchbook was on my bedstead last night. This morning it was the first thing I picked up.
Working toward simplicity is necessary. That is happening in the painting, "No Living Thing Can Exist Without It".
There is a lot in a little, and vice versa. I must be careful. Muck can overwhelm. Muck can distract. Confusion reigns if the the simplest of truth telling is not sustained. Yesterday's drawing allows the viewer to engage with a simple rectangle within a rectangle. This engagement occurs despite it being built with a complex web. I believe yesterday's drawing tells a proper story.
Looking for nirvana never fails to fail. This drawing is a start in the right direction. Seek and I shall find. This drawing finds merit in directness coupled with complexity. Here are large individual forms, within the large forms complexity is found. This is not the perfect accomplishment. It is a finding; not conclusive, but a verdict of merit that is preparation for my next step.
I received a gift of a calendar for 2021. It contains 365 art images, mostly paintings. Its cover shows Vincent Van Gogh's Still Life with Irises (one of Vincent's greatest masterpieces, completed in the last year of his life, 1890). You see one of my inspirations in this painting. Vincent used simple color, simple large forms, but then playfully created a complexity of lines, shapes, and value contrast within the irises. Van Gogh's Still Life with Irises is satisfying on many levels. I absolutely adore this painting. It is a treasured lesson in emotional truth telling.
Recently, my drawings are taking two days of thought to complete. The second drawing here is no exception. This drawing from 9/25/2020 is a step toward simplicity, yet it is too simple for me to accept. Today I will go back into it. That said, look at Drawing 09·24·2020 in its state 2; it is crazy complex. Why is it difficult for me to illustrate my simple, personal identity? Am I as complex as my drawings indicate? The problem is viewer engagement. I do not wish to be obtuse, but I believe I am. My job is to get down to the basic me; I want to be naked in front of myself, naked in front of my viewers. At this point I continue to hide behind a patterned curtain so thick as to hide me from easy view. Yeah, I am behind the curtain. Am I pretending, as the Wizard of Oz pretended to be someone he is not? I know I am failing to do the one think I want to do so badly. I want to reveal myself in order to communicate honestly and purely. Guise and guile are irritating and distracting. I must stop myself!
Fascinating it is, that the struggle of my life is not a struggle for understanding and skill, but for simple and clear. It ain't easy for me to accept simplicity. Simplicity, it seems, is far more difficult to render well than complex and overwhelming. Paring down to essentials is hard work; much harder than letting loose with a spill of ideas. Ideas come easy; sorting out the relevant comes hard.
Paring down to the essential and the absolutely necessary is not an easy task. I am gonna do this. It is important because I have relied too long on complexity to overwhelm myself; distraction by tons of information comes easy to me. Within the overwhelmingness there is truth, but there is a lot of falderal as well. My job is to make truth. Truth is simple; truth is difficult to comprehend; truth is tough to depict visually. Truth is available despite the duplicity in every human effort. Self-deceit is easy; clear-eyed truth is difficult. Truth requires hard decisions. Deceit comes easily by slipping and sliding into the undemanding, the available, the comfortable, the entertaining, the sweetness that is momentary self-satisfaction. Yesterday's drawing is not the best drawing I have ever done, but it is a move in the direction toward simple truth.
I am obviously moving toward more simple images, albeit complex in actuality. I question the ability of a fully complex image to fully engage the viewer. Today I show one answer to this question. However, the caveat is this, as with Mark Rothko, and Ellsworth Kelly, I believe initial simplicity has the ability to be extremely complex. Yesterday I showed you an excellent Mark Rothko painting; it contains just two floating rectangles; Simple? Not at all! Today I show you a painting by Ellsworth Kelly, black with a floating, flat white form; Simple? Not at all! I could live with either the Rothko or the Kelly painting for a very long time; both would endlessly speak volumes to me.
When does simplification become too much? Am I simplifying? Clarity is an act of decisiveness; Simplification is an act of divorce. That which appears simpler is often more complex. Complexity is a measure of profundity. Simplification is a measure of ease. This painting, "Your Decisions Matter", is complex; it is profound, albeit simpler in color scheme and its number and kinds of forms. Mark Rothko understood profundity; he made, to the unobservant eye, seemingly simple paintings. I leave you with a great painting by Mark Rothko.
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