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.
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.
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).
Sometimes I think I make my images more complex than they need to be. The extras make for confusion. Yesterday I moved toward simplification. The lower left of the painting "2017 No.4" became a plane with no distractions (see previous state to understand the simplifications that occurred yesterday). Yesterday's drawings are also less cluttered with falderal.
For months my drawings have been extremely complex, filled with searching for form, light, and composition, using thousands of pencil strokes in every drawing. Now these come along. Simplicity, a different look at page organization. They portend change. That does not say much. Change is the absolute constant. However, a change in attitude comes with questions. Is this change because I'm being lazy, or is this intelligent design?
Always! I am always searching for relevance — myself for myself and myself for my viewers. Today I will take more steps to integrate with relevant social media. For now, view these drawings. They are becoming more tightly composed as they become more complicated in their number and kinds of forms. I am watching carefully, as I am weary of complication. I want to be direct and honest. I want my work to have initial impact as well as a quality that demands sustained involvement.
The struggle is on... in yesterday's post I wrote of the impact my seeing a Mark Rothko painting had on me. My painting, "2016 No.17", cannot be moved in the direction of simplification. It is what it is. Yesterday's drawings begin with one containing three objects piled on top of each other. Obvious to me, this is Rothko's influence, emulating the three areas of color in his painting which was reproduced in yesterday's blog post. It ain't easy for me, this struggle with clarity of emotional purpose. Yesterday's drawings, one after the other, are looking for truth in action, but they get more complex, not more simple.
I have been out of the studio for a few days. I have been looking at art, went to a museum, looked at paintings: de Kooning, Picasso, Guston, Rothko, and Gottlieb — those are the ones I immediately remember. They had the largest impact on me. I have been contemplating; where am I? Where should I go? If there is any take-away from what I saw, and what I now know, it is this: I must simplify in order to be clear about emotional impact and engagement. A painting by Mark Rothko struck me very hard (it resembled his painting I reproduce below). Rothko's best paintings are simple, yet emotionally complex. In his brushed, washes of color, I could feel his emotional questions and possible answers. Rothko's painting stood in front of me like a monument, a testament to being here and now. It was an emotional experience, built with paint on canvas. No crap deluded the message. Direct and clear. This is a lesson to me. I will begin a new painting today.
A friend of mind, Dick Schellens, pointed me to the work of Avery K. Singer. I am not showing her work to you, but I do encourage you to do a web search. Look at her work. It is extremely complex, black & white, is composed three-dimensionally, and is representative (i.e. references real world forms). I have worried that my work sometimes gets too complex, thus leaving the viewer confused. Avery Singer pushes this complexity, hard. She does not use color. That helps. Back to me...
Yesterday I made one simple drawing, then one complex drawing. I like the second one, the complex one, better. It feeds my soul more fully. The complexity asks me to dive in, to wonder.
The painting "2016 No. 15" is near satisfaction.
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