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.