Friday, June 17, 2011

17 June 2011,
lots has happened, and as I try now to look back, I can't remember when the last time was that I even thought about adding some images and ideas. There was for some time last summer a period of stagnation beginning I think in mid summer, and continuing into the fall. It seems that often at the end of a work, or a series of work when there is nothing new waiting in the wings, or when a project or calamity comes up, which interupts the daily pilgimage to the canvas, enough of a break is created to let all kinds of conversations begin in my tiny little mind. These are not the good kinds that seem to begin with words like "what if..." which I connect with inspiration, they are conversations that go more like "who am I fooling", or "am I just going around in circles", and even get to the point where I start thinking that if I am boring myself, I can't imagine how other people might feel. The only thing I can say is that some where along the way I had gotten farther away from the work.

In july I had taken a hand full of drawings, and works on paper and I think five paintings to Hawley Design. This was a lot of work, framing, matting, and moving things in the hot summer sun, but it seemed like it may help get some things sold and some money comming in in the months of not teaching. Some where in that time I had been asked to teach a class at the Philbrook in conjunction with a gallery talk about Hans Hoffman's work. I took advantage of the time there wandering through the exhibition, through the museum, looking at reference material in the library, to think about the work and where it wasn't going at the moment. I was still drawing durring that time, mostly portrait studies. It seems important now to do this, because it allows me to move through a simple process and try to organize all the thoughts. I have since grad school been very interested in the work of Gorky, De Kooning, and John Graham, especially the work early in their lives which played with the abstraction of the figure. I had attempted to paint a reclining figure a couple years ago, and have tucked the canvas away in a miserable state of dissapointment for the moment, but this idea of the figure and an abstracted statement still calls to me.

The school year began and I have to admit I was relieved to have some other conversations to compete with the internal noise. The conversations in the classroom are as important to my processing as the time spent with a brush in my hand. Abstraction and organizing the conversation around abstraction is always difficult. Most of us want to make it into some big monster that someone, like a medicine man, or expert understands, and should therefore be consulted in order to understand the monster. This idea of an intersessor in the process of communication has always seemed strange to me. Experts should help us to understand things we don't, but visual art is a thing which relies on a language of color, shape, marks, and placement. These things are easy for every one to see. Visual language takes work like learning to read,and I think that is where the problem is, or part of the problem. We think that we can't understand without help, and we don't trust our own eyes and head to read and understand what we see. I use the term we because I am exactly one of these people. I have been in this place. I had no idea what abstraction was all about and I thought some person who had the secret would have to explain it to me.

I mention all of this because abstraction is the larger issue, and becomes the connective tissue in the class room.
(more later, must go to the Atlas studio)

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