Monday, September 5, 2011

Gonzo 2

Gonzo 2
  oil on panel  30" x 24"

“Where the hand goes, the eye follows; where the eye goes the mind follows; where the mind goes, the heart follows, and thus is born expression.”
Sanskrit writing

The thing about these is the required attention to surface and shape and mark and color - they are the subject rather than a landscape or naked lady or cheeseburger. These things are fine as subjects but there is something seductive about the risk involved when the relative comfort of things is removed from the equation. That and the fact that one cannot for even a moment loose focus on process.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shazam 2
  oil on panel  16" x 24"
“‘Why’ is the most important word in this planet’s language, 
and probably in that  of other galaxies as well.”      
Wislawa Szymborska

One of my favorite poets here hits on the reason for any endeavor worth our time, asking ourselves 'why'. It is the repeated question of small children as they try to understand everything bigger and new to their experience. It is the source of adults' finest works in every field of knowledge, every constructive effort. It drives an artist to the absolute joy of working and 'absorbed-ness' in that work. 
It's the voice of curiosity and the source of exploration.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shazam 1
 oil on panel  16" x 20"

“What you do when you paint, you take a brush full of paint, 
get paint on the picture, and you have faith”.   Willem de Kooning

“I can never accomplish what I want – only what I would have wanted 
had I thought of it beforehand”.   Richard Diebenkorn
I’ve included these two quotes because first, they are from two artists whose work has always been a kind of beacon for my own, and second, because they so well sum up my feeling about what painting must be, no matter what style or subject. I guess all my art is of one piece because it comes from my sensibility and experience.
Each brushstroke is a decision”.   Robert Motherwell

Monday, June 27, 2011

 oil on panel  8" x 10"
Just a small study to gear up my color and surface and space mojo as I'm moving toward some sort of melding with my representational work. Its an old challenge that's been hashed over by many since about 1907, but still relevant because of humankind's constant battle to come to grips with the internal life as opposed or in-sync with the external, visible world. My hold on the visible is always not to allow the work a certain lazy approximation of the visual structure because of freedom of color or brush handling - I have an internal wish to retain the discipline of remaining connected to what I see. In these works it just happens that the paintings evolution is what I see / am sensitised to/in love with.  We'll see how it goes (pun intended).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring And All
oil on canvas  11" x 14"
What can I say? easter colors that I fought to a stand-still.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Study For Spring
 oil on panel 8" x 10"
Balance and freedom of handling the paint are the two strongest elements and, along with a high keyed color scheme, seem to battle and complement each other almost simultaneously. I will do these paintings because they force me back into the most elemental quality of painting - allowing or even insisting that I constantly consider only the needs of the painting - only what is needed to make the work complete. It is intuitive as well as a measure of all I have seen up to that point - it allows me to escape the tyrrany of the subject - after all, every painting, no matter what style or subject, is first and foremost an arrangement of shape, space, color, and a process toward understanding.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

oil on canvas  5" x 18"

"The best we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves"
Willem de Kooning

I think what he was saying is akin to the title of the Bill Walsh book -'The Score Takes Care of Itself' - every painting is a struggle and a roll of the dice but as we immerse ourselves in the process we learn the joy and discipline of this mysterious personally directed exploration of visual existence.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

  oil on canvas  12" x 18"
Hemingway often said he would put in everything in the first draft and then cut everything out except the absolutely essential. He wanted you to feel the stuff that wasn't there anylonger - without clubbing the reader over the head with it. He used to claim he learned this looking at Cezanne's paintings in Paris in the early 1920s. This seems to me to be a pretty good way to describe my working method on these works - a fight to bring form out of the chaos of everything - with the power of the thrashing chaos still present. Cezanne's form was attempted by bringing the visual world to understanding through his color and regular marks. The man is present in his method - in his way of seeing and recording. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

choobie 2
  oil on canvas  22" x 26"
Sometimes it is difficult to enter into a painting - everyday life has a way of tresspassing on one's momentary ability to focus or to muster the discipline of undivided attention needed to paint. The only thing that seems to work at these times is to begin - eventually, because focus is not sharp, one is bound to create something ineffective and then become absorbed in fighting the battle toward a painting that works. It seems to be a backwards way to work - make something bad to react to and paint out -
but it seems to work.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

krackle  1
oil on canvas  12" x 18"
Sometimes, when one expects it least, color will begin moving forward and back, shapes will occupy new ground and the dynamic of the painting begins to revolt and shift. Most times I have found this to be a good thing - it means I am so lost in process that my sense of time, of place, of self, have evaporated. 
I think this is similar to when novelists claim that their imgined characters take on a life of their own.
One of my guideposts has always been a quote attributed to e.e. cummings.
"mystery is significant."

Monday, January 31, 2011

  oil on canvas   14" x 16"
"Its not a matter of painting life. Its giving life to a painting" Richard Diebenkorn

In the book, "Temperaments, Artists Facing Their Work", author Dan Hofstadter has a wonderful interview with Richard Diebenkorn spread out over several visits with the artist. The general tone was of Diebenkorn's hesitation to ever pretend to know where he was going with a painting when he started the painting. He was adamnant about avoiding repetition or formula. Yet his body of work at each stage of his career were obviously related in a series.  I remember a quote by Diebenkorn that "painting is an art form in which one recognizes something one has never seen before."  So the balance is between avoiding repetition and exploring anew similar challenges and ideas. Remain comitted to exploration without pre-conceived ideas and open to discoveries - let the painting tell you what it needs while working in the memory of ideas spawned by the last one. Not a bad way to go.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

hurlyburly 2
  oil on canvas  12" x 18"
The task of any art form - (drama, music, painting, sculpture, photgraphy, etc.) - is to bring form out of the chaos or, in simpler terms, understanding out of life. Abstraction searches for the essence of the visual experience using the most basic visual elements, without the distraction of representation. What remains is the struggle between surface and depth / cool and warm color / line and shape / dark and light - all held in the shallow space near the surface. The artist has to remain true to the idea that a painting, before it is anything else, is an arrangement of colored oil marks on a flat surface. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

  oil on canvas  12" x 18"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

 oil on canvas  12" x 18"
'Every realistic image must be evaluated as an abstract composition and every abstract image must be evaluated by how it deals with the real.'  This is a paraphrasing of Fairfield Porter's ideas about the essence of painting and how all paintings are related, regardless of style or approach. His writings are collected in a small book, "Art In It's Own Terms", something I will reread sections of every few years. The 'real' Porter is refering to as the goal of abstraction encompasses all the design elements but also the act of making the painting - the compression of a period of time into a single, frozen expanse of space. I would add that one of the contemplative rewards of paintings are reading the artist's process by the evidence left in the work - that is the work.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

oil on canvas   12" x 18"
Probably the single best thing about painting is the heightening of the senses that comes about as one becomes absorbed in the process. This happens, not because making paintings is easy or simple, but for the very opposite reasons. The complete engagement with all aspects functioning simultaneously - not only color and shape and space and form - but also paint and surface quality, gesture and knife / brushwork - all these are in the air like juggling knives. Ignore any one aspect at your own peril. 
krackle 2
oil on canvas  16" x 24"

Something I've always loved about painting is what might be called the battle of opposites.
The fight that becomes the painting between movement and stasis; form and line; space and surface. This is truly the energy and purpose of any painting and requires nurturing a kind of split personality (no problem here) - like playing 3-D chess with yourself, on a board without squares.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Choobie 1
oil on canvas  22" x 28"
Fairfield Porter wrote that the subject of abstract painting was no different from representational painting - that of light, color, shape, and space. The best of each, it has always seemed to me, also reveals the the process of building the painting. Whether Vermeer or de Kooning, there is so much to be discovered beyond the initial visual engagement - that will be my exploration in this blog - how the process and the simplest elements can engage us fully.