I got a little derailed by a health scare last week. It wasn't true and I am as good as ever. Mortality is very scary. So is underperformance. I want to be the best I can be. This drawing is a good one; made while I was scared. Focusing on art clarifies; it reveals truth. The most basic truth is Now is a joyous gift to celebrate. Celebration is the action of seeking truth; art-making is analogous to truth-making. The truth is found in the doing, since truthfulness is known by the doer as it is done. Art-making is weeding out truth by the act of acceptance and rejection. In other words, making art is a discipline that is the practice of truth-making, which is practicing truthfulness, and practicing truthfulness is universally helpful to every encounter by a living spirit. Practicing truthfulness instructs the living spirit on how to accurately recognize truth, to live truth, to communicate truth. Finally, accepting my mortality has focussed me; I accept my task as I know it — seeking truth by making art.
For a long time I have been playing with the means to accurate reproduction here on the web. I am happy with today's reproduction of yesterday's drawing. That's a first!
Every day a little bit closer... Along for the Ride is almost there; what a great ride it is! In the midst of the process that is painting there is a time that is more discomfort than success. This is a symptom of risk-taking, not of ability. In fact, the exercise of talent is void without risk; self-discovery is impossible without risk. The edge of one's knowledge must not be static. When my knowledge becomes static I will be dead to myself.
Yesterday's drawing was exploratory. There are infinite ways to find truth; there are infinite truths!
This morning The New Yorker sent an email to all its subscribers with the cartoon I reproduce below. It is apt in many ways. It relates to our society, but also embraces the constant internal arguments I have. Only I get me, and I don't completely get me. That is the major reason I make art. It is also the reason my work bounces around in search for consistent, relentless truth. Can any human endeavor find absolute truth? I think there are absolute truths, like honesty. However, complex endeavors, like making art, do not easily reveal absolute truth. Thus comes my drawings, one simple, the next complex. There are those that are dominated by lines and those that are dominated by hard core black graphite. Yesterday's drawing exhibits the blackest I can get with that pencil of mine.
I always make an effort to see everything at once. I try for universal comprehension. Instead, I get distracted by the ugliest deceit first, then I see the rest of my dishonesty, The floating ring in 2017 No.13 is gone! Yesterday the truth of its deceit hit me hard. After removing the circle I noticed the inappropriate blue flame-like shape (in the upper left). Now it glares at me with its fraudulence. It does not deserve to be there! Unfortunately I am capable of only one step at a time. This undermines my soul. It is personal deception. I was lying to myself and I did not know it. This is why I must live a very long life. It is going to take me a long time to correct all my missteps. Finding right is not a straight path. I want to do this right. I am obsessed. I want to stop messing up. I want to find the simplicity of living within truth.
Returning to investigation means mucking around for reminders. Consistency of work has its merits. Its detraction is confusion through familiarity. Returning brings fogginess to the familiar, but a superior quality to introspection. Excellent investigation requires time away. I have been told by writers that stopping, putting away the pages, then returning to look with a fresh mind, is effective in rooting out poorer description and phrasing. Here too! Yesterday's two drawings are vastly different in approach and in image. Both have qualities I like. Seeking truth is not quick and easy. This is going to take a lot of time. Hang in here.
Out-loud thinking is becoming obsolete. Processing never dies. Telling the truth is mandatory, albeit nearly impossible. Verbal truth is more difficult than visual truth. Words are like nails. Images, not so much. Images are full of nuance. Nuance is required to communicate clearly, precisely. Deeds are a test of veracity. Images can be good or images can be bad. I am uncomfortable looking at yesterday's visual activity. That is helpful. It leaves me wanting more. The unravelling mystery calls me back. It's like a good mystery novel, the ending is obscured because of factual insufficiency. I must return to unravel that which is known yet not apparent.
I worry about the demands to perform. I tell myself, "Not to Worry." Practice makes substance. The more I do this activity, art-making, the more true it is. This trueness exists despite any conflicting and confusing emotions. In other words, it is not for me to judge. I must continue to believe that any activity, when humanly performed to the best of one's ability, becomes true through the effort of trying. It is apt for me to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Every calling is great when greatly pursued."
Yesterday's studio activity brought two interesting drawings, and a turn toward more effective color and value contrasts, in the painting "2017 No.4".
Before discussing my art, I must apologize. In no way did I intend yesterday's blog post to be an endorsement for any political candidate running for President of the United States! I am an apolitical being living in a political world. If any of my readers took yesterday's post, which referenced Sinclair Lewis' novel, "It Can't Happen Here", as a political statement, please, believe me, that misconstrues my intent. I am, unfortunately, someone who is all too aware of the world about me. I am hyper-aware of the reality distortions that come from the mouths of all politicians. That is the game they play. I am engaged because I am fascinated by the reactions of their audiences. Why does anyone believe anything a politician says? If humans have any overriding emotion, it must be optimism. We believe our world can get better. So, we focus on finding someone who can do just that, make things better. Unfortunately, one person, one idea, one change in law, or one alteration in the funding of a program, can not lead to betterment for all.
Why am I fascinated by this political game, and the people it so intently engages? It is because I am an artist. Pablo Picasso said, "Art is a lie that makes us understand truth." Perhaps I am engaged in the same game as politicians. I am lying to you. The images I make are not real. Surprised? No, you are not. You are not surprised because you know I am trying to persuade you, to cajole you. I want to engage you because I want my output, my art, to be observed. I want to be understood. I am a living, breathing, human being, who makes art to communicate my state of being to you. You, my viewers, have the same problems as I, the same needs. If I am successful, my art provides insight into who we are, right here, right now. I am not promising you a better world. There is no absolute correctness in my art. That said, I hope in every work I make there is "rightness." Being "right" for me is communicating authentically, truthfully. Even though an artwork is an artifice, it can communicate an artist's version of truth.
Yes, I am fascinated by people who have successfully persuaded masses of people. I want to understand how it is done. I desire to communicate well. I want to be understood. Picasso did it. Picasso does it. Picasso persuades every time one of his masterpieces is viewed. Great movies, great novels, do the same (e.g. Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" and Leo Tolstoy's "War & Peace").
My art? I need to go and make art. Today I show you yesterday's work. I am verbally depleted by the large amount of dialogue I have just written. Bye.
This is difficult for me. I have to accept this: I live in a place, in a time, when I need an automobile. Today I seek to solve that problem. No studio time today. The drawing I show today is from two days ago. It is a good one. I am surprised at my own abilities. The weird is this: I want to be an island but I need to be a continent. I need myself, I need people. The automobile is a bridge from myself to the people I need. It must be solved, just as my art must be solved. The weirdness is the blurring of priorities. Of course, my making-art is most important. It feeds my soul. The automobile is required to feed me too, food and more. The automobile allows me to interact with people beyond my isolated life in my studio.
There is a line denoting the top front rectangle of the space creating structure within which the main form lies. (That was a mouthful!) I am questioning that line. In this state of the painting, "2016 No.14", the main form appears behind the upper line of the spatial box. I left it that way because I question the line's position relative to the form. "Should the line go in front of, or behind, the limb?" Looking at today's reproduction, I think the limb should lie behind the line. This linear questioning continues in my drawings. I am questioning spatial truth versus composition. I do not believe a line need always speak authentically in terms of the space it denotes. A trick of space is sometimes better then reliance upon that which is known to be true in the real world of our walk-around experience. This is art. It is artifice. It speaks for itself. Art is a lie that informs one's knowledge of truth. This means that confusion within a work of art can make the viewer better know the actuality of truth.
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