Friday, July 22, 2011

There is a quote, that I keep in the flotsam that I drag around with me. It keeps me focused on a direction, not a destination, more of a compass heading.

Note from Martha Graham to Agnes Demille

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is or how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or in your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased... there is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.

I hope you find it useful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is an updated image of the second of the two canvases that began together about a month ago. Like siblings, related, but very different. Each will go its own way. This one is still moving, like a dance, each move changes everything, and determines the next move. The challenge is to sustain, and nurture the life of the work.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The paintings are not going anywhere at the moment and I was getting tired of the side by side paper things. I went back to drawing, which I use as a kind of crutch to bridge between things.

The first steps are always composition, and then control of the constituent parts. Simple, and yet not so simple. I always learn something from drawing. This time I learned that although I think I know what I'm doing, as soon as the drawing is underway, I begin to learn all the things I don't know about drawing.

The walls I draw on, are rough, and in some places have a brushstroke textural surface from the years of paint, and repair. It's not something you can see just looking at them, and I'm not helping, by using pushpins, to reduce the problem.

I love talking about frottage in classes because it sounds great, and it's one of those things that I've seen used beautifully by some artists. If you aren't familiar with the word, it's french for rubbing, and in this context can incorporate all kinds of textures and patterns into the drawing, in both a specific organized way as well as an overall underlying texture that just becomes the surface upon which the image rests. The reason I mention it is, I'm not one of those people who uses it beautifully, in fact, I was disturbed and muttering to myself in early stages.

I discovered a stick of graphite knocking about in the pile of stuff I had brought with me. I've never used stick graphite, stick charcoal yes plenty, lots of kinds, but graphite, had always been something that either I hadn't learned to use, or had tried, failed, and never looked back. This time, I began with the stick on it's side, with rough shading to generally push the form into some compositional position. As I went on, I needed to reinforce some of the transitional areas and movements. Instead of repositioning the stick in my hand, it remained as before, and the long corner where two facets met, became the line making tool. It sounds complicated, or simple, but if you try it, from flat on one facet rocking over on to the corner, thats it. I make a point of boring you with this because, these are the marks that I've been admiring for years in loads of drawings, and especially Fechin. Nobody ever said anything about how the marks were made, nobody ever taught any one I knew what that was and how it happens. It happens as a result of both the textured surface, and the way the material is held, weather its charcoal, or graphite. I would hope I'm not the only one who is this excited about it. Now the big problem is how to control it.

As I said earlier, I find out quickly how much I don't know, and how much there is to still learn. I've used an eraser for years, and you would think that there are few things that I hadn't discovered, and you would be wrong, as I was. So the week was spent drawing, not glamorous, but still worth the time and effort spent in the journey. The two drawings above are the result, and I apologize, they are not the technical finesse that we see usually in drawing, they were dragged kicking and screaming into existence, as though it were a battle of endurance.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Then today I concluded two more things on paper. these are a way to keep pushing the process without having to deal with the seriousness of the canvas. These two were a miserable beginning. They have taken an interesting turn and maybe have some value, who knows.

This is the next one . It seems to be more fragmented and in some turmoil. Perhaps it's on the way to something else. As much as I struggle with what to do, all I can do is remind myself that between where the work is now and where it will end up, there is a bunch of things that I have to get out of the way, so don't suffer so much, just do the work.
When the previous things were concluded, I thought I would bring this one home to live with, which would give me space for the next. Both were started at the same time, that two at a time process. This one had been stuck and the last thing I did was add the blue notes through the center, and more green around the bottom middle and left.

There have been some new things, and some reworking of old things, first the new things.

These seemed to be going back into a predictable and tired area, which I have to say didn't thrill me at all. When this happens, I hate going back. I hate looking at the work, and yet the only way out is to go back, and look at the work. It's not flashy, but it's all you can do. So onward I went and found that It didn't get easier. I wallowed around for a couple days and finally decided to let it go, let the trite and cute things show up, I can always get rid of them. The idea has been I thought to try to get rid of representation, and the language of representation. Easier said than done because I have only that language to express visually my ideas. Or so it seems at this point.