I feel different. I have changed my mind. You can see this change in today’s drawings. Art-making is the act of changing one's mind. My drawings, my recent paintings, embrace a simple approach; they embrace face-on compositions. These works are realizations. Complexity of who I am cannot be reduced. Deception occurs if complexity be ignored. Simplicity must be sought. Yesterday drawings are practice toward achieving simplicity.
There is an article in today's New York Times about the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat (quoted below). I worry about my propensity to make complex compositions. In this blog I have often written about my compositional worries. I am struggling to be free of the complex. I want to engage viewers quickly, easily; Basquiat models this well, Basquiat’s compositions are inherently simple; he was a master of compositional simplicity, which allowed complexity in everything else. Basquiat did not always have a complex message, but he always produced simple compositions. Yesterday I moved in that direction. Both of my recent paintings became simpler in composition. At last, I am giving in, I am learning to communicate more deeply by relying on simplicity of composition.
CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK, New York Times, April 29, 2022
For today's post, I considered many titles: “Dirt Does Not Save the Soul” and “Too Much Want” and “Less is More” and “Thick in the Head.” I settled for the one you see at the top of this post.
I can not help myself. I love to make marks. I love to draw. I love creating new forms. I love forms which emote memories of things past. But, when I look at my work, I see complicated. Simple is better. Simplification is necessary. I want to hit the viewer with great first impressions, ones that last. I want simple messages to myself, ones I immediately understand. I am the primary viewer.
The drawing I show today should have been pared. There is an extra form. I am referring to that little one, the one that resides above the major form. I’d say this extra form is like a limbless torso, with a sombrero. Rather than erase, repair, I will make another drawing. The next one will be simpler.
By the Way, looking at the painting, "Gonna Speak to the Crowd,” one more step is required. I thought I was done with it. No. A simple tweak is required.
The painting, "Tonstant Weader Fwowed Up”, requires several more steps.
Stay tuned. Check back in a couple days.
Lastly, I am trying to simplify my sentences as well. Yeah, language is the same as drawings and paintings; less is more understandable.
"Getting It" means simplifying the message to purity; so pure that it cannot be misunderstood.
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".
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.
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.
My methodology is more multi-think than Doublethink. This concerns me. I worry I see in a complicated and complex manner. I worry this makes it difficult to communicate through my art. Am I allowing myself to solve the needs of an image by multitasking the image? Instead, should I be simplifying my images toward their basic instincts? When I began the new painting, "Doublethink", I had ambition; I wanted restrict it to two contradictory and contrasting forms. Obviously this did not happen in state 1. You can see "Doublethink" as two contrasting areas; the left playing with rectangular in/out rotational vigor, the right with rounded up/down spinning-top-like verticality. I am not sure I will work on "Doublethink" again today. I need its complexity to percolate within/without me. There is a very complex drawing on my drawing board right now. It waits for me to solve it, to finish it off. I began this drawing with thoughts similar to those I began "Doublethink". My thoughts were similar in their simplicity-seeking. The drawing ran away toward a self-imposed complex solution. It feels self-imposed by the drawing, but of course it is me. It is me who is self-trained to see this way. This morning, in my effort to question my complexity, I purchased a sketch book. I hope it will help me resolve my issues with myself. I will use the sketch book to experiment with different ways to tackle by complex-seeing personality. I believe I am in need of simplification. I could be wrong.
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.
To read my profile go to MEHRBACH.com.
At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.