Here are my visual offerings for today. At this moment my need is to visually work, not to explain in writing. Come back tomorrow and see. Perhaps I will have more to say.
I feel like quoting the song, "There ain't no sunshine when she's gone." That's all I got. I have been doing stuff. Like changing my website host and my email host. You won't notice much. I hope you noticed my absence. I feel better. There has been other drama in my life as well, stuff in my personal relationships and in my studio space. Still, the only consequence was me being gone, me coming back, and the sunshine returning to here and now.
I have to stop measuring progress by the amount of hours I work in the studio, or by the amount of paintings or drawings I make. I am really going somewhere very fast. Look at today's drawing! It took me an entire studio session. When completed I had no more voice remaining. It is just one drawing, but what a drawing! It speaks volumes! During the making the knowing flowed from me like rain from the sky. How did I know to make that little butt, and that long neck? I just knew. Look at the line that begins just below my signature and date. I simply knew to go over it, twice. I knew to darken it. It required hefty thickness to play against the demanding darks and grays and forms it had to oppose in order to instigate a feeling for planer space. Then there are the eyes of the woman. No conscious thought went into their making. I did not think about accuracy. I thought, and felt, my way to their emotional narrative. This finding authenticity went on and on: another example is the woman's outstretched hand. It had to be that way. I could not stop drawing, erasing, drawing, erasing, drawing... until it was right! There is more. Her breasts! You get it? Yet I am amazed.
All of this because I took a few days away to gather energy. Creative energy is like a pool that gathers behind a dam. Use it too quickly and it will run dry. If it does run dry, step away and let the pool form again.
I did not count the marks, 1, 2, 3... a million. But I do know that it took the entire studio session to make today's drawing. Yes, this blog post is different. I am posting on the day of the drawing, not the day after. This new methodology feels right. I had hoped to get to painting but it did not happen. I had the energy to stick with solving the nitty gritty problems of this drawing as I encountered all kinds of strangeness. Getting out to studio immediately after the acts of waking and nourishment is energizing. The limit to my work is the limit of my ideas. That is exactly the description that defines today's drawing.
I am reeling from the hour, or more, that I worked on the photographic reproduction of the painting shown today. The subtlety of the actual work is not there. I could not find a way to get it there. There is something impassible that prevents authentic repercussion of a man-made piece of art. You have to see it to know it. There is no other way. Thus the reasons for museums and art galleries. Do not trust reproductions on the web! They are informative, but vastly inadequate.
I find myself low on creative energy. I do not know if I will return to art-making today. I may take a day of recovery. However, I fear a day of recovery may take me away for longer than a day. Tomorrow I will be informed of my instructions in regards to my call to jury duty. Instructions will be given for the next two weeks. This "call-in" procedure will take place on the first and third Mondays of the next two months. I will keep you informed as to my art-making schedule. All I can say is confusion. My work is going well. I will leave it with reluctance. My call to duty must be obeyed.
Unusual and usual. Whatever! The 1, 2, 3 of getting it done is not dictated by an obviously rational order of things. Yet it gets done. There is the immediate and the distant, that which is obvious now and that which will become obvious after extended time and effort. Within the little I know, I know that the work I am doing now is more authentically mine than the work I was doing a month ago. I am becoming myself through work and time. Part of this becoming myself is not clearly work but more clearly acceptance. It is me giving up the fight to come up to the standards set by the masters. It is me accepting my own innate standards, which are surprisingly new and different than anything I know through education and observation. I am, to my surprise, something that has never existed before.
Untitled Drawings-02·08·2015 Nos. 1, 2, pencil on paper, 11X14 inches
Compositional play is so important to me that today I continue to show the drawings in "Gallery" format, despite there being only two. This allows you to get the compositional impact first, then, if you choose, you can CLICK upon a reproduction to see it in full screen.
About today's title, I need to explain something to my readers about my artistic development. Twenty-seven years ago I was an artist making Three-Dimentional Abstractions that were getting a lot of notice and critical praise (see some of these at MEHRBACH.com). But I was not making enough money to support myself and my family. I had to go to work. I taught for 22 years. Those years interrupted my natural development as an artist. They were years of happiness, of personal learning, but also of frustration. I grew as a person, but Looking back, the depth of my artistic knowledge seems to have grown slowly, or not at all. I now have enough freedom to, day after day, be in the studio. The last four and a half years have increased my artistic knowledge. I am feeling more competent now than I have for many years. Day-to-day work is necessary to unravel the confusion that is me. My optimism is increasing with every day of self-discovery. I can do this, and perhaps I can get to making the work I was born to make. Time is limited. Loss of time is my biggest fear. I work like an athlete, in my life and in the studio. If I am to succeed, health is primary.
Untitled Drawings-02·07·2015 Nos. 1, 2, 3, pencil on paper, 14X11 inches
How did I get to this need I have to make art, or make anything? There is definitely some kind of flame within me that calls me to fabricate, fashion, build, and assemble. At one time I believed it was my need to leave behind a legacy. I believed making art was evidence that I was here. These things I made would be here when I am no longer here. They would be traces of myself, which would continue to exist after I am gone. Now it does not seem so simple. There is much happening in my daily life, emotional and physical. I need to speak of these happenings in order to digest them, understand them, live with them. The weird part of this is the feeling that I am slowly inching toward the stuff I was born to make. The imagines are becoming more me, less derivative. I am not sure who wrote it, but I once read that every important voice has one great idea that drives ALL their work. Picasso has manipulation of form, Matisse had manipulation of color, Einstein had manipulation of space/time, et cetera. The problem is finding the means to express the great idea. I have not fully found my means, my voice. I am bolstered by the feeling that I am getting closer. My daily work is paying off.
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.
Every day, when I rise from sleep, I realize the amount of work facing me. I must encourage myself to have courage. This is work. No matter how much I wish it were easy, insights do not come easy. Inspired as I am to seek and find, I must do the work. I want to know and see more quickly; there is never enough time and energy in my day. This is a long haul job. The most important insight occurring now, as I work, is the discovery of contrast as an animator of form and composition. The drawings and the painting shown today are from two days ago. The first drawing of January 28th is at the bottom. It carries through ideas insightfully discovered the day before. It is in the second drawing (the portrait head), however, that I played better with contrast. After the drawings, I went to painting. The green around those receding blocks was darkened. This higher contrast causes the painting to pop better than before. The painting is now on its way to completion. Happily, an effective increase in my artistic arsenal is readily seen.
A Note on Reproduction: The last few drawings have been on rough, slightly yellow, paper. In the portrait head you can see the yellow, but in the drawing of the abstract form (#1, bottom of page) all color was removed because a weird optical effect occurred which caused low value colors on its ground — it is reproduced in gray scale.
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At MEHRBACH.com you may view many of my paintings and drawings, past and present, and see details about my life and work.