I prepared, then delivered, a painting and a drawing, for exhibition. This distracted me from my normal routine of creativity. Fragility of the nuances of self-knowledge is apparent when daily activity is interrupted. Yes? No? More complex is the answer. Working hard sometimes confuses, rather than clarifies. Yesterday's drawing does feel confused to me, but it was fun in the making. I will stick with the latter idea and move on.
Moving on includes preparing a new canvas for a new painting. The frame was made yesterday. Today I will stretch the canvas. This process of traditional preparation takes more time than I would like. The resulting canvas, on its stretcher, takes up room and calls out permanency, which is not always a good thing. I am thinking of trying the method used by my mentor, Philip Guston. He simply tacked canvases on a wall. When a painting was completed, he had the canvas stretched on a properly dimensioned frame. This method allows one to get to painting more quickly, but there could be problems with it. If odd in dimension, a uniquely sized canvas must be manufactured, rather than using standard stretchers bars, as I now do. Also, stretching stresses the paint on its canvas support. This could lead to cracks in the paint. Guston got away with it. His works have thickly applied paint and no apparent cracking. I will give it try.
Untitled Drawings-01·30·2015 Nos. 1, 2, 3, pencil on paper, 11X14 inches
Yesterday was a day of intense work in the studio. Looking back, it is difficult to believe I got all of this work done in one session. As usual, the drawings came first, then the painting.
The painting is relatively small (for me), but its symmetry, attention to surface, and minor versus major form, fascinates me. It is a head-on painting, with simplicity of color, and simplicity of composition. This, like the size of painting, is rather unusual for me.
No more comments from me today, except me noting that the formal qualities explored in yesterday's studio session are remarkable.
I have made things more difficult for myself. I feel nervous and in a hurry, yet unable to rush. The nuances are insistent. My painting is calling for extreme attention to details. For instance, the blocks near the center of painting lack adequate contrast (light versus dark). Today's reproduction of painting Untitled Painting-01·06·2015, and all my reproductions, are imperfect. The more I attend to nuance the further the reproductions remove themselves from reality. Here is another "for instance": the background's rhythmic undulation of flatly drawn, mountain like peaks, moves from Pure Cadmium Orange on the left to Pure Cadmium Red Medium on the right, yet you can not see this in today's reproduction. I tried to get it right, but the complexity of the all the nuances present in this painting forced me to compromise to get this reproduction as close to authenticity as it now appears. There is no full success in reproducing art works on the web or on paper!
I am struggling to be open and free, but time is limited and insights are unlimited. What to do? I choose to struggle on.
Untitled Drawings-01·25·2015, Nos. 1, 2, 3, pencil on paper, 11X14 inches
Unfortunately, the truth does not come out and bite me. So I return, day after day, looking for it. That which is my truest image is not always obtained by making images that are true. Unfortunately, I have to walk through a valley of confusion, seeing many possibilities of where my home may lie in order to find the spot that will be true to my domicile. Yes, I could just stop the search and emote with authenticity, but I want more than that. I want my work to be substantial and forceful in technique, as well as in emotion. As example, in baseball there are all kinds of ways to get to first base, but doing it consistently is obtained by only the few who comprehend proper batting technique as well as proper strategy in choosing the pitch at which to swing. It is this complexity of idea and technique which leaves the most substantial results in its wake. This is true for baseball; this is true for art.
Yesterday's drawing is yet another study on the way to finishing the girl in the right panel of Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014.
Yesterday's changes in Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 opened up a new dialogue in this painting. I thought I was playing with intellectual compositional problems when all of a sudden the girl in the right panel got sexier. I don't need to tell you about this major change, you can see it simply by comparing today's reproduction with yesterday's.
I am not thrilled with yesterday's drawing in terms of composition or content. However, in person, this drawing has the same dynamic play of darks and lights, a wonderful use of value changes, that is evident in all my drawings from the last few weeks. Technically there has been a big jump in my drawing, which is now seeping into the painting as well.
This painting is not complete. As it moves toward finality it beckons for a bit more animation, albeit it has a bunch already. I think my next alteration will include a change to the left back wall of the left panel. Perhaps stripes which would echo those found in the right panel. The composition is almost right, but not quite. My thoughts are wandering, so I will stop trying to discern them here. I need to go back into the painting in order to resolve my questions.
Details! That is the subject of yesterday's drawing. The man on the left took well over an hour to complete. I was scratching his surface with my pencil, looking for an emotional response from him. Nearly every spot on the surface that is his face was touched. This search for detail is largely missing from the painting Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014. On the same day I am always working on one painting and at least one drawing. I find it interesting how one work is about details while the other is about overall compositional impact.
The question I ask in today's post title is as much about the making of art as it is about the readers of this blog. Readership has gone way up in the last several days. It is as if you and I both want to be here because we are anticipating the completion of the painting Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014. Nice.
The question which keeps bugging me is, "Why don't I know more quickly?" This process is slow, full of testing and failures. The woman in the right panel of Untitled Triptych-08·13·2014 is getting closer to appearing well enough to accept, but she ain't there yet! The look on her head is better. I believe her head is too large. At this point the woman's head in the right panel does not play effectively with the man's head in the left panel. The size of her head places her in a world apart, so her head must diminish in order to bring her back into the overall composition.
Yesterday's drawing was approached differently than usual. I let it fall on the paper, rather than forced it upon the paper. In other words, I did not begin with an idea. I made stroke after stroke, seeking forms which made sense within the developing composition. I carefully watched the developing forms for impact and quality. This method brought me back to the days when I made abstract three dimensional compositions. It made me think, that possibly, I am more about the abstract power of a picture than the figurative power. This will continue to be tested. The range of my work has been restricted by my dedication to the figure. I am uncomfortable with restrictions.
The images on the new triptych, Untitled Triptych-08132014, were established in one sitting. This is remarkable‼️ The long term readers of my blog know that I think, by instinct, and by intuition, via drawing. Discovery of the Acrylic Paint Marker has allow me to fully utilize instinct and intuition to begin this new painting. This is a revolution. I am not looking back. My enjoyment of the process went way up! I am concerned with the speed of my creativity. My ideas far outstrip my ability to get them down on physical paper and canvas. This acrylic marker technique will facilitate my ideas becoming real images. Because of this simple change, I am anticipating the production of my art to be more, better, and significantly truer to myself.
In general, painting is also becoming a more important exploratory vehicle. The process of drawing is wonderful. However, more than ever, it is through painting that my core is revealed. It is, by nature, a more contemplative process. It is larger, and therefore takes on more expressive weight. Size is important.
I got too involved with the form of the man's pants in the left panel. I moved the color toward yellow ochre and didn't notice the color mismatch. It was not until I stepped back at the end of the studio session that this color problem hit me. It disturbs me greatly, mostly because I concentrated on form, and absentmindedly forgot to watch the entire painting. The yellow ochre does not play well with the woman's dress, nor does it reflect the man's pants in the fight panel (not the man in the right panel is the same man as the man in the left panel). In any case, this is a minor problem. All I see now are minor problems. This painting is almost complete, and this fact is the opposite of disturbing.
I like yesterday's drawing. I will not draw today. I will go straight to the painting.
A note about reproduction: The painting is evenly lit. In the past, when photographing the painting, I have added lights to the normal overhead bank of lights used during painting. I noticed the extra lights caused areas of color to wash-out. Today's reproduction of Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 is not quite as vibrant as yesterday's, but overall it is more cohesive because of the even lighting. I continue to grapple with the white paper in reproducing of the drawing. It appears gray in today's reproduction. The choice is always made to exhibit the pencil line, and the consequent form, as best as possible. This does not mean the reproduction perfectly reflects the subtlety of the pencil's values. I will never be satisfied with reproduction.
Right: The changes to the man in the left panel.
Recently I have been wondering, "Why am I drawing so much?" Now I know. For the first time I feel I got that man on the left right! Weird as it seems, all those recent drawings brought me to a simple change in his jaw line, which led to a simple change in his neck. That is a boring technical detail. It is expression I am seeking, and technical problems must be solved to solve the problems with expression. This painting, Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014, can now (hurray & hurrah) come to conclusion. Apparently I have been waiting for the solution of this little detail. Happily it will inform me going forward, thus reducing the time it will take me to complete future paintings. And, wow, do I want to go forward to the next painting. Yesterday I began preparation of the second of the three canvases for my next painting, a triptych. To get there faster than I have with Untitled Diptych-04·15·2014 I will use paint sticks and acrylic markers to draw the initial composition.
Wrong: The reproduction of yesterday's drawing.
To photograph yesterday's drawing I moved the lights closer than usual, thinking I would be able to reproduce the drawing better if it were more brightly lit. Instead, the lighting on the drawing's surface was inconsistent and the lower part of the drawing washed out. No matter, this is not one of the better drawings among the recent ones, so there is no great need to make an effort to reproduce it better than seen here. Obviously, I am experimenting with the problems of photographing for reproduction, and this failure is just one more note along the way to better reproductions.
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