Three million strokes and counting.... Yesterday's drawing celebrates the marking of a white piece of paper with graphite from a pencil. Later yesterday, as I rested reading in my living room, my arm let me know it had been taxed. I had been enjoying finding forms, finding surface, finding space, finding light, and finding composition! This simultaneity-filled activity is a celebration of mindfulness. The more I do it the longer I can sustain it! This is "practice", as defined by veteran meditators. The Buddha would be proud of me! I have not obtained Buddhahood, but I am moving in that direction.
Shravasti Dhammika, a Theravada monk, writes:
Sometimes when a painting like Weoman appears I think I am more like Giorgio Morandi than Pablo Picasso. Actually, I am becoming more unlike Morandi or Picasso; I am becoming me. When I write about being "like" an artist, I am referring to my interests, my concerns. It is becoming obvious to me that I am hyper-concerned with light as subject unto itself. This does not diminish my concern with three-dimensional form, space, and composition. Weoman is looking good, but I need to step back, pause, look, contemplate, make sure it is as good as it can be. There may be one or two more states coming.
One cannot escape reference. Perhaps most of the automatic has no reference, like a heart beating or scratching an itch. Perhaps the automatic is symbolic. Picasso said making a work of art is similar to closing a window because one is annoyed by a draft. I find that true; it is emblematic in that it refers to a well developed sense of problem solving. I am trying to deal with this difficulty of symbolism within my abstracted art. In my daily making of art I internally reference personal questions. Symbolism must be the result of making a particular work.
I reference F. Scott Fitzgerald in relation to the painting 2018 No.1. This painting looks out, into light. The shadowed interior is a place where the viewer sits and wonders. Do I know more today than when a younger man? The activity of art-making feels the same as it did then. Wisdom and knowledge have obviously accrued. So yeah! Wonder on! I do make art better now than at age eighteen! There is light in the darkness. I see that light more easily. Symbolism in a work of art is an absolute.
Two very interesting drawings were made yesterday. Interesting is that both began the same way; a plane that sets up three-dimensional space, background left to foreground right. The final drawings are vastly different. Things that start the same can result in vastly different ends.
My wondering today is about the coherency of image and surface. Yesterday's drawing is filled with forms. Mostly the forms sit near the front of this image's artifice of space. This bothers me. I want more. I want the space to be fully coherent. Forms against a white background do not resolve their position relative to the rest of the paper's plane. The paper, as automatic creator of an artificial space, must clearly identify its spatial concept, or the viewer feels deprived of the full reality of the image. If an image does not confirm the space it inhabits then the forms sit alone against blankness, nothingness. It is like making a jig-saw puzzle and leaving some pieces out. Satisfaction is incomplete if information is missing! Below, I show you the way Joan Miró handled this lack of background in one of his better works. Joan Miró sometimes placed the forms up front, while he disturbingly left the background blank. In Miró best works he forces the viewer to perceive the background as part of the composition, part of the overall image, part of the image's space. I am aware of this necessity, but like Miró, I sometimes get so enraptured by my forms that I forget full identification of their position within the spatial coherency of the total image.
The painting "2017 No.3" is complete. It is what it is. I can do more. Process is king. A new painting will begin today! In my drawings I continue to explore individual forms, as individuals and as relatable to one another. The solidity of these drawn compositions, creating as they do a firm sense of three-dimensional space, will probably be the instigating theme of the next painting.
Art-making does not come easy, or does it? My studio activity goes well. But I live a life of worry. Am I making sense? Within certain moments of time I feel great anxiety. Like right now. Does anything I make have importance? The search for significance is simply a search, a process. It is the process that makes life worth living, as says Socrates: "An unexamined life is not worth living." For the first time I understand this. Socrates is speaking of life as process because life without process is devoid of meaning, like a blade of grass, which doesn't care if it lives or not. It simply is. I want more than the simplest of lives. This is being human. I do not want life to be the same as foraging for food because I am hungry. Yes, I am hungry... for meaning. My making art is me foraging for self-meaning, for images that ring true, that communicate with myself and with all who view it. Thus came yesterday. It seems to me that a form that represents me, it having a place within the image I am creating, can substantiate an image. A form, substantiated by its presence, is a force compelling me to deal with the artifice of three-dimensional space as if it reflects my place in existence.
Is means a satisfactory route to an end if the end is a good one? I cannot answer this in political context. In terms of art-making, "No!" For me, art is ongoing research. Day by day I ask questions. Day by day I get answers. Some days the answers are more profound, more meaningful, more important to accept as valid. Through effort, over an enormous amount of time, I find authenticity through the art-making process. Currently it appears buffoonery is accepted by a great number of those who have wealth and political clout. These are the people who have the resources to buy the best art that has been made on this planet. I must ask the question: Should art follow? I say, "No!" Art is a different animal. It is a process based upon personal values and personal truth. It is a practice, like meditation, different for each us but filled with commonality. Through commonality profound communication occurs. Such communication cannot be offensive. Thus the difference between good art and politics.
Yesterday's drawings continue to explore simpler forms against contrasting backgrounds. This, plus the three-dimensions advanced by the foreground forms and shadows, create an artifice of 3D space. Pattern is also being explored as instigator of defined spatial planes, as seen in drawing No.2, and also seen in the current painting on my work wall, "2017 No.2."
There is an inaugural sensation to the painting "2017 No.2". It plays with space and light in new ways. It is hopeful in its brightness and clarity. It radiates something new. It is the beginning of a new period of personal artistic substance.
Yesterday's drawing has a black cloud, a wall of stone, and a ground with ominous objects. Yet it is filled with light. Life is good!
OK. I am working. This is not a party. This is not fun. It is rewarding and important. Whoever said, without qualification, that "making art is a good time," never made art. I search for authenticity, driven by intellect, emotion, and intuition: two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, et cetera.
Yesterday's drawings continue to look for simplicity, using emotive forms and the artifice of three-dimentional space. "Drawing No.2" is more simple than "No.1", but is "No.2" more emotively clear? I think it is. If yes, then that is success.
I began a new painting. It is the largest I have done in some time — measuring 76 inches in height. This new painting, "2016 No.18", is more simple in form and format than it the previous one, "2016 No.17". Good or bad idea? We shall see. Like any other research endeavor, art-making is about having a lot of ideas. Some ideas will be good, some, not-so-good! It is recognizing quality, then using that quality as a building block, that eventually makes great art.
Lastly, I finished a few final details on the painting "2016 No.17", which I now declare finished. It is reproduced at the end of today's post.
I discovered a new verb today: Chillax! It means "Chill & Relax". I believe yesterday's work denotes behavior similar to the meaning of this compound verb: I am chill-fully relaxing into the basic driving forces of my emotive visual world. There is within me a desire to be figuratively referential, but not too much. I also crave the visual power of three-dimensional space. Together, the reference to a figure, and the reference to three-dimensions, is visually, persuasively, forceful. Some of you may look at yesterday's work and think of the British painter Francis Bacon. I do, and I don't. This is my work. Bacon's is relentlessly figurative, mine is not. Obviously, I, like Bacon, require a means to define abstracted three-dimensions. My images occur within a defined three-dimensional space, contrary to the flat, two-dimensional canvas.
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