Sometimes an image comes along that is alien to me, its creator. Such is the one I show you today. Yesterday's drawing is an exploratory composition; it is "call and response." It is shallow, low in its 3D-ness; basic in its play of forms. My upcoming paintings are in my subconscious. This must be preparation. I am uncomfortable with the sophisticated image of my recently completed painting, Along for the Ride.
Recently I viewed original works by Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Sean Scully, Mark Rothko, Vincent Van Gogh, Edmond Cross, and Paul Cézanne. All but the Cézanne's amazed me with the simplicity of their initial impact. Cézanne's work is different. Paintings by Paul Cézanne often immediately hit the viewer with sophisticated complexity. Myself, I go back and forth between initial impact as complex or simple. I am asking a big question. In all my work I continually look for satisfactory answers; answers that make me feel ease, comfort, and direct communication. Look at my last two paintings, Along for the Ride and The Intervening Tick: one complex, one simple. This bouncing, back and forth, will continue till I find my true home. The road to simplicity does not come easily to any painter. Paul Cézanne never found it. Mark Rothko certainly found it. Who is the better artist? I place my chip on Paul Cézanne.
This drawing is a good one. It questions complexity; How far I can go and still have your detailed attention? I question my own reflection. Process is finding truth by doing, making, questioning over and over again. It seems to me answers are found between the questions. Answers are not found while the questions are being asked. It is during the mulling that one finds what is true and what continues to be questionable.
The painting 2017 No.14 is becoming increasingly difficult to reproduce well. There is no way a painting in person can look like a painting on a screen or in a book or on a magazine page. There ain't nothin' like the real. The only thing obvious to me is my involvement with this painting. It has gone up and will be sustained till end. I will work on it again today. I have a mission, and it feels good.
Yesterday's drawings continue my quest for messages more directly engaging to the viewer. This I am trying to find through more simple relationships of forms to one another and forms to ground. Something new does appear in drawing No.2. I used my finger to smudge the graphite of the pencil behind the form on the left. This increased its light-filled contrast, pushing the form's sphericalness hard and clear.
I am making an effort to pare down the complexity of my images. They are often made by forms being added to balance off forms already there. This leads to compositions balanced by complexity of means. Such activity-style is convoluted. I am trying to make images more closely fit my intuitively known emotional/Intellectual self.
I am not explaining this well. An analogy is this: If a device can be built in a myriad of ways, it must certainly be better to build it with fewer parts. The more parts the more chance it will mis-perform, perhaps even do something it was not intended to do. It might break completely; its intended function may be lost. Obviously, a quest for simplicity of means in visual art is best. Simple is more efficient, and the intended communication is more likely to be successful.
I worry about everything. Am I seeking a Goldilocks solution? I do not think so. I go back and forth from too much to too little. Do I ever get it just right? People ask "What is the Goldilocks syndrome?" Google answers, "In cognitive science and developmental psychology, the Goldilocks effect or principle refers to an infant's preference to attend to events which are neither too simple nor too complex according to their current representation of the world. ... Such a planet is colloquially called a "Goldilocks Planet".
Yesterday's drawing is very complex. I think it works well. It is a compromise. There is a bold diagonal which establishes space in front of an abundance of forms. The diagonal frontal form allows the background forms to play with emotional abandon. This allows my dilemma, concerning too much, too little, or just right, to occur and to be jubilantly unresolved. Glory glory is art making!
The first drawing was begun on the day I was stretching the painting 2017 No.9 for exhibition. The second was begun yesterday. Both were finished yesterday. My feeling: as joyous as their complexity is... I believe I want more simplicity. I have been looking at images of contemporary painters. I have been wondering about initial visual impact. I think I need to explore simpler. Mark Rothko, who died in 1970, is one of the most popular of modern artists. The initial engagement of his paintings occurs through simple rectangular forms. The complexity of the surface, and the relationship of the colors of those rectangles, is a secondary, profound, response.
I have been questioning simplicity versus complexity. Obviously, engaging the viewer is most important. This begins with engagement at a distance. Relevancy, immediacy at first confrontation, must pull the viewer into commitment. I think this happens through simple means. A picture's ability to sustain the viewer's interest begins with initial contact. Sustenance is maintained via complexity. The closer the viewer comes the more satisfying an image must be. This nourishment of body, mind, and soul is my aim. My aim is true.
Yesterday's drawings began with an attempt at obtaining simple images. In the first drawing I began with the major form in its right half, a distorted, folding rectangle. The drawing then took on a life of it own. In reaction to my feeling that I had lost, I began drawing No.2. I mislaid simplicity in my second effort as well. Game on!
Sometimes, like the drawing shown today, I feel my solutions are too complex. Is this confusion, or clarity? Accurate and clear communication is difficultly conceived. Making art is about emotional and intellectual communication. Producing a drawing, or a painting, that communicates well is not simple, but the highest form of communication must be simply conveyed. That is, it must be plainly, straightforwardly, unambiguously understood by the viewer. Am I doing that? This is my constant question. I am in the midst of solving a great problem. There are artists who have done this simple and direct thing so well. Amedeo Modigliani comes to mind (see below).
Yesterday's drawing took over 50% of my studio time — hours! Complexity returned, but it lies on the back of simplicity. It is a fine drawing.
I reworked the painting "2017 No.4", questioning the effect of the bottom band of crimson red. I re-painted it several times, once with a green/blue staccato (some of which you can see showing through in the bottom right corner). I have accepted it. Just a couple touches today and it will be complete. It is time to move on to a new painting. I am hoping to begin the new painting today.
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