Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2018

Rockwell Kent- The Trapper

****************

Force against reason: reason, because it has the power

of enlisting force to fight for it, will win.

From the recognition of that truth has come democracy.

 

-Rockwell Kent

***************

There are a lot of things that could be said this morning, especially with a governmental shutdown taking effect overnight. This shutdown is the symbolic culmination of the political attitudes of the past twenty years that have led us away from compromise and reason as a means of governance.

I am not going to go into my own grievances here. I’ve done that enough. But I will say that for all the anxiety this government produces as it tries to force itself closer and closer to some form of autocratic authoritarianism, I am somewhat optimistic. And that may be because I agree with the premise of the quote above from one of my favorite artists, Rockwell Kent.

I do feel that we are in struggle right now between force and reason, that the direction in which we are being directed via deception and fear-mongering– the force here–goes against the ideals and virtues that we have long professed as the basis for our democracy– reason.  The idea that reason is enduring because it has the ability to enlist those who will fight for the truth of it is reassuring to me and seems to be backed by history.

What we are experiencing is reminiscent of the way other empires have ended, when the beliefs that grew these empires are set aside by rulers who see themselves as being above those ideals and virtues. But I believe we are still a nation with enough reasonable people to resist the forces of greed and nativism that have descended upon us.

And that gives me hope, even on these days that seem so dark. So, thanks for reminding me of that, Mr. Kent.

Here’s a video of some of Kent’s landscape work, primarily of the Adirondacks, Vermont and Greenland. The format of the video is a little cutesy for my taste but it shows a lot of great work from Kent and features the music of Edgar Meyer and Joshua Bell. Have a good day and stay reasonable.

Read Full Post »

The straight line is godless and immoral. The straight line is not a creative line, it is a duplicating line, an imitating line.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser
****************************
I was originally drawn to the work of painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) by his use of color and the organic feel of his forms. Every line has a natural curl and arc and even those lines meant to replicate the straightness of a man-made object quiver and waver a bit. It all creates a world that feels natural and alive. Organic is the word that always jumps to mind although maybe spiritual is a better fit in that it seems to depict a world that is comprised not of the human body but of its soul and spirit.
I maintain a similar relationship with straight lines, viewing them as something to be avoided at all cost. The man-made feeling that comes with a straight line is something that I do not want to see in my work with the possible exception of the horizon line as seen on a body of water. Consciously painting that straight line is a real task, an ordeal of concentration.
As hard as it is to draw a straight line, it’s harder than you might think to not draw a straight line, especially after you have spent years drawing and painting, gaining a certain proficiency with pen and brush. I sometimes have to really focus on not painting a straight line or the stroke will unconsciously go straight and true. When that happens, it irks me to no end and I find my eye constantly going back to that straight line in the composition.
I think there is something in our brain that makes our eye seek out straight lines as though we are always searching for signs of humans, perhaps as some sort of survival mechanism. And a very straight line is almost always a man-made thing.
So, I am going to practice not painting some straight lines this morning with Hundertwasser’s words echoing in my ears. And eyes.

Read Full Post »

Lee Krasner- Night Creatures

My own image of my work is that I no sooner settle into something than a break occurs. These breaks are always painful and depressing but despite them I see that there’s a consistency that holds out, but is hard to define.

Lee Krasner

***************

I’ve been in a funk with my work lately, one that makes it hard to even want to pick up the brushes. It reminds me of the one I felt at this exact time ten years back. My Archaeology series emerged from the depths of that funk so even though there is general sense of blah, I am optimistic.

Part of my process in clawing out of a funk is looking at work– my own and others– and reading on the experiences of others. I came across the quote above from the late artist Lee Krasner (1908-1984) and it spoke to how I have been feeling as of late. I spent a little time looking at her work and chose several that sparked my interest immediately.

Now, I am not well schooled on Abstract Expressionism so I am able to speak with any authority on her work or on her place in art history. But I do like these and a number more by her, finding something in them that inspires me with their rhythm, forms and composition. Born into a Jewish family in what is now the Ukraine, many scholars find elements of Hebrew script in the forms of some of her works.

Most of you, if you know her name at all, recognize her as the wife of Jackson Pollock.  It’s unfortunate that she is mainly known in this way because her own work has had an enduring power that has been sometimes overshadowed by Pollock’s notoriety. She is an interesting figure in modern art. Take a look sometime. Here is short video with much of her work.

Lee Krasner- Untitled (Little Image)

Lee Krasner- Noon

Lee Krasner- Composition 1949

Lee Krasner- Promenade

Read Full Post »

Silence is not neutrality.

Silence is not a shield.

Silences relinquishes your voice and opinion to others, enabling those who seek power through division, disunity and deceptions.

Silence is the approval that allows dark deeds to exist in this world.

Silence is complicity to the darkness.

In things that matter, silence is surrender. 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Runnin’ Out of Fools

Lot to do this morning, mainly trying to start a tractor that balked at waking up in the -10 degree temps. Not something I want to do but at least it’s beautiful out there. Deadly cold but gorgeous.

Before I bundle up and head out I thought I’d share this week’s Sunday morning music. It’s one that I’ve been waiting to play for some time and today seems like the perfect day for a variety of reasons. It’s an old Aretha Franklin song, Runnin’ Out of Fools, that is covered here by Neko Case. The original Aretha version is great but I also love this performance.

Give a listen, stay warm and have a good Sunday.

 

Read Full Post »

Now We Know

This quote from the poet Maya Angelou has been floating around for some time. I think it’s a pretty powerful statement of a universal truth, especially on this particular morning.

Though there was never much doubt, we all positively now know what we are dealing with in this country.

Call it what you will– racism, nativism, moral bankruptcy and an ignorance of history along with a general lack of intelligence– but it sure as hell isn’t patriotism. No, this morning the mask is completely off and the barely disguised dog whistles have become megaphones.

And those that respond to the call of that megaphone can no longer claim they don’t know. By standing with this administration, they are revealing who they really are.

And when they show me who they are, I will believe them.

No doubt at all.

Read Full Post »

Hokusai’s Dot

At seventy-three I learned a little about the real structure of animals, plants, birds, fishes and insects. Consequently when I am eighty I’ll have made more progress. At ninety I’ll have penetrated the mystery of things. At a hundred I shall have reached something marvelous, but when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, the smallest dot, will be alive.

Katsushika Hokusai

***********************

I really like the bit of wisdom above from the great Hokusai, both for his optimism on aging as well as the idea that as he continues to progress his work will reach a point where everything he paints– even something as simple as a dot– has a life force within it.

Attaining that life force, where the painting transcends what you have put into it, in any one piece is a rare and difficult thing for any artist to achieve. But that idea that you might one day reach a point where your work has moved from a product of thought and craft to a transcendent expression of the spirit is something that seems beyond our reach or even our aim.

But perhaps we should keep it as an aim in our mind, along with the idea that we will continue to progress as we age, even if it is stored in rarely visited corner.  If we hold on to it perhaps we will subconsciously find our way to that goal. And when we are a hundred and ten, the dots we paint will have that same life force as those created by Hokusai.

It’s something to hope for…

I’ve included a few of Hokusai’s paintings beyond his famed wave and landscapes. I love his fish pieces and the raven is wonderful. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Max Ernst- Found Objects

Max Ernst- The Entire City

Every normal human being (and not merely the ‘artist’) has an inexhaustible store of buried images in his subconscious, it is merely a matter of courage or liberating procedures … of voyages into the unconscious, to bring pure and unadulterated found objects to light.

Max Ernst
**************************

Max Ernst- Nature at Dawn Evensong

Max Ernst- Temptation of St. Anthony

Read Full Post »

Consistency, Again

Sometimes when I speak to schoolkids, they show me their work. There is an interesting mix of pride and embarrassment in these kids which sometimes has them telling me that they don’t think their drawings or paintings are very good. I know that feeling well. I was those kids once, with an aim that far exceeded my ability at that point. A friend sent me an image from a 6th grade newsletter that had a drawing of mine from that time in it that had me gasping at how poorly I drew at that time. I think it was supposed to be Dr. J dunking a basketball but who could tell? 

It was cringeworthy but it helped me in being able to tell these kids that where they are now is now where they will end up so long as they continue to practice and take small steps forward. You can’t judge a journey by the first steps on the path.

I thought I would share this post from about four years back that deals with this idea of development and growth. Plus, it’s just a great way to share some good work from Georges Seurat.

George Seurat -Paysage Avec ChevalI subscribe to a service that provides information such as auction results for artists, both living and dead. It is always interesting to scan the auction results for my favorite artists, to see how they are currently viewed by buyers. For example, anything by Vincent Van Gogh always draws huge money, even the work that doesn’t possess the signature brushwork and color of his better known works. Those pieces that do, go for astronomical sums. His popularity with the public is as strong as ever. I guess that is no surprise.

A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884.It’s also interesting to scan the results to see work from artists other than their more famous paintings that hang in museums.  We tend to think of artists by their best work and seldom see the complete chain of work that runs through their career, never really seeing their weak links or  the developmental work that led to their signature style or voice.

The image at the top, Paysage Avec Cheval,  a painting that recently went up for auction at Christie’s London, is a good example of this. It’s a lovely piece but you might not guess the artist.  This is from George Seurat whose work, such as his most famous work shown just above, is forever tied to pointillism. But scanning through his records, you can get a better sense of the evolution of his work. [ Note: This painting, small at about 6″ x 9″in size, sold in 2014 for over $1.8 million]

I am also looking for consistency in the artists whose work I am scanning through. Again, we always think of the artists in terms of their best known works and are often unaware of the totality of their body of work. Some artists are incredibly consistent, even in their early formative years. Others have high peaks and deep valleys, with a huge disparity between their best and not-so-best work. I am always encouraged by both types of artists.

I strive for consistency in my own work but have had dips and valleys in my work, particularly in the formative days early on. In those days, I thought of the great artists only in terms of their best  works that hung in the great museums of the world, thinking that they simply got up each day and turned out incredible work. I could not fathom the possibility that they had swings and misses. It’s encouraging to see that those icons whose work I revere often struggled in the same way as me and that the great works we know them for were not created in a vacuum. They came with great effort and day after day of moving ahead in often small increments.

I think any aspiring artist should take a few minutes to look through the whole of the works of their heroes. They might be encouraged, as I often have been, to know that the path they are on is not so much different.

Read Full Post »

I opened the YouTube site this morning in hopes of finding a suitable song for this Sunday morning’s musical interlude and it was right there, waiting for me in the recommended section. I began to listen to the song and opened my files to find an image that jibed with the song, at least as I was hearing it in the moment. I opened a file of images from several years back and the first one I looked at felt instantly like a match.

Sometimes things fall into place.

And I appreciate that because there are so many other times when everything is a struggle, when every decision seems clouded with doubt and every action feels out of rhythm. Slog is a word that comes to mind. Just the sound of the word brings to mind the effort required on those difficult days.

But these effortless days wash away all remnants of that word and feeling. I remember that the painting I chose, Only Now, shown at the top being done on such a day in the early days of 2012. It seemed to fall on to the canvas without much assistance or direction on my part. It needed to exist in that moment, needed to find its way into this world.

Needed to find its way home.

Interestingly, this painting has never found a permanent home in this world. It has been at the gallery that represents my work in California for several years now and the ease and freedom in it that makes it a personal favorite for me has never spoken loudly enough to someone who might give it a permanent home. which is not that unusual as some of the paintings that speak to me most personally are often the last to make their way to a new home. Maybe the void in these pieces that need to be filled by the viewer in order to complete them can only be filled by me.

We’ll see.

So this week’s song is fittingly titled Can’t Find My Way Home from Blind Faith back in 1969. Blind Faith, for you youngsters out there, was considered one of the first rock supergroups. The group was comprised of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Rick Grech, all stars in big-name, established bands. They didn’t last long– one album and one tour– but they left a mark, including this song.

Give a listen and have yourself a good day.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: