Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Get yourself to a vantage point of seclusion and view the world with your eyes alone. Think of the infinite spaces of the skies and the world beneath.

Charles Burchfield

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

Good words for a painter. Or any other human, for that matter.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I ran the post below a few years back, mainly about the quote in it from Fauve painter Maurice de Vlaminck. His attitude as expressed in those words really resonates with me. I, too, find myself not giving a second thought to anyone else’s work when I am in my own. The only concern then is filling my space, creating my own new world. His words are in my mind this morning so I thought today would be a good day to replay this short article with the addition of a video of de Vlaminck’s work and a few more images.

Maurice de Vlaminck- Houses at Chatou 1905

 

When I get my hands on painting materials I don’t give a damn about other people’s painting… every generation must start again afresh.

— Maurice de Vlaminck

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

I have to admit I don’t know much about French painter Maurice de Vlaminck (vlah-mink)  who lived from 1876 until 1958.  His work is best known for a short period  in the early years of the 20th century when he was considered one of the leading lights, along with Andre Derain and Henri Matisse, of the Fauvemovement.  Fauve translates as wild beast and the style of these painters was very much like  that to the sensibilities of that time.  It was brightly colored with brash brushwork and little attention paid to detail.  It was all about expression and emotion.

I recognize some of his early Fauvist work, mainly for the obvious influence ofVincent Van Gogh  it exhibits, and none of his later which becomes less colorful and exuberant, perhaps shaped by his experiences in WW I.  But his name is one that I have often shuffled over without paying too much time to look deeper.

Maurice de Vlaminck- At the Bar

But I came across this quote and it struck me immediately.  It was a feeling that I have often felt  when I immerse myself in my work.  All thoughts of other painters– of their influence, of comparisons and artistic relationships– fade into nothing.  It is only me at that moment faced with the task of pulling something new and alive from the void.  I can’t worry myself at that moment about what other painters are doing.  Their whats and hows and whys  are all moot to me then because I am only trying to express something from within.  It might only exist and live for me in that instant, though I hope it transcends the moment, but that is the whole purpose and all of the works of all the painters throughout time can’t change this singular expression of this moment.

This single, simple quote brought me into kinship with de Vlaminck and made me promise myself to explore more deeply into his work and life so that when I come across his name in the future I don’t simply skim past without a thought.  But when I am painting, rest assured I will not be thinking of Maurice de Vlaminck.  And that is as it should be…

Maurice de Vlaminck-The Blue House

Maurice de Vlaminck- landscape with Red Roofs

Maurice de Vlaminck- Landscape of Valmondois

Maurice de Vlaminck- The Gardener

Mauirice de Vlaminck – La Partie de Campagne

Read Full Post »

Busy morning here in the studio but I wanted to replay a post from over eight years ago about a painter whose work always dazzles me, Joseph Stella. I’ve added a few images from the original post as well as a video that shows the wider range of his work over his lifespan. Just plain great work…

When I see the paintings of Joseph Stella, particularly his modernist work, I am immediately engaged. They seem dense and complex, almost manic in their compositional content, yet the color and symmetry have an effect that I find calming.  I often wonder how Stella viewed this work, what he felt from it. Not in an artspeak sense. Not academic jargon. Just how it made him feel.

Stella (1877-1946) was an Italian immigrant to this country who has often been linked with several movements- modernism, futurism, and precisionism among them.  There is a contradiction in this in that everything I find about him points to someone with an outsider’s mentality, someone who never felt himself a part of any group  and with an “antipathy for authority” as it has been described, with which I strongly identify.  Joseph Stella Brooklyn Bridge

Maybe that’s what I see in the work.  I don’t know. I do know that I am drawn to the boldness and beauty of it. The strength of the lines. The depth of the colors. The sheer visceral bite of the  image that when taken in as a whole seems to engulf you. Gorgeous stuff. Work that makes me feel smaller, even tiny, for a moment yet inspires me to want to move my own work further ahead. To grow and expand.

Maybe that’s how I classify other’s work in my head- by how much they make me want to do better, by the way their work’s impact becomes an endpoint for me, a goal that I hope to achieve.

The work of Joseph Stella is definitely such an endpoint. Now I must work…
_

_

joseph stella old brooklyn bridge

Read Full Post »

Painting has come to play a big part in my life. I’ve had a couple of different conversations with some folks over the past few weeks where I have tried to explain what painting has meant to me, tried to explain the void that it filled for me and the sense of purpose it brought to my life.  I talked about never feeling any sense of destiny or anything like that in becoming a painter. It just seemed to work for me in the ways I needed it to work. These conversations brought to mind the blog entry below that I wrote back in early 2009 called The Need to Paint that I thought I’d share today:

I wrote a few days ago about how I am often mystified by the meanings of my paintings and how I this makes me glad that I still have the need to paint.

The need to paint?

I thought about that after I hit the button to publish that post. I have often heard artists say they had to paint, as though it were some sort of exotic medical quandary.

Paint or die.

It always kind of bothered me when I heard this, as though these people were saying they had some sort of predestined calling. Like they were prophets or shamans that without their visionary paintings the world would spin out of control. I don’t think I ever felt afflicted with this and it always sounded just a little pompous to me. 

So when I wrote that I had the need to paint it made me twitch a bit. Maybe I’m the pompous ass here. That certainly is in the realm of possibility.

But I find myself kind of standing behind what I said– I do need to paint.

It’s not some call to destiny. It’s not to transmit some psychic message to the world. It’s more a case of me needing have a voice or form of expression that best suits my mind and abilities. Painting just happens to fill that need. If I could yodel–and thankfully for us all I cannot– I might be saying that I have the need to yodel.

But I need to paint.

I need to paint to try to express things I certainly can’t put in words, things that awe and mystify me. I need to paint to have a means to a voice to make the universe aware that I exist.

I need to paint just to remind myself that I am alive and still have the ability to feel the excitement and joy from something that I have created. I need to paint to feel the surprise of exceeding what I felt was within me, to go into that realm of personal mystery within and emerge with something new. I need to paint because it has given me the closest thing I know to answers to the questions I have.

I need to paint because it is one of the few things that I’ve done fairly well in my life.

Would I die?

Nah…

I’d adapt and find something new but it would be hard to find something that would suit me as well. So I guess I do need to paint after all. Call me a pompous ass. I don’t give a damn- I’ve got work to do.

Read Full Post »

I was going through my little treasure chest the other day. It’s an old square cardboard box filled with old experiments, failures, breakthroughs and other assorted oddities from my earliest days painting. I enjoy doing this because many of the pieces stimulate some of the same sensory triggers that drove me back when they were painted, back in 1994 and early 1995. Feeling that same sensation now creates an urgency in me, one that makes me want to get back to work so that maybe I can create that same feeling in this moment.

Motivation comes in many forms. It even rises from work that I felt was not good enough to show years ago. Over the years many of these pieces have grown in my estimation and I see now how they fit into my larger body of work and how they made the transformation from borderline fire-starters to things that I value highly today.

While I do see motivation in this sometime visitation to the past, part of me wonders if there is any value in going back and experiencing these pieces once again. After all, I have moved on since that time and can’t return to the point that produced that work. The nostalgia of it makes me forget the frustration that was present at the time that came from knowing that these pieces weren’t hitting the spot I envisioned, that there was much progress to be made in my work before it would satisfy me on a consistent basis.

So maybe going back serves little purpose. Maybe it prevents one from moving on to new paths, new ideas, new work. As aviator/author Beryl Markham wrote in her memoir, West With the Night:

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” 

She may be right. But this morning I am looking back to a place I don’t want to return to in the present moment. I know I have to move forward, have to progress. These works now belong to a past that cannot hold me back from that formidable future ahead.

And they won’t. If anything, they make me want to be better…

 

 

Read Full Post »

I have been working on some new small pieces. When I finished this piece, which is 2″ by 6″ on paper, and was trying to read what I was seeing in it, I immediately thought of the blog entry below from several years back. The article and the painting both deal, as I see them, with how we often look for answers from far outside ourselves and fail to see the riches and possibilities that surround us in plain sight. I call this painting In the Gem Fields.

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”

—Earl Nightingale

______________________

It’s funny sometimes what you take from an experience in your life.  At one point in my life I was in the retail car business, working at a Honda dealership both as a salesman and a finance manager.  In order to keep their sales staff engaged and excited about pushing their product, the management there would periodically send us to seminars with industry-specific motivational speakers and would also have sets of motivational tapes from other speakers that they would encourage us to listen to in our free time.

One of the sets of tapes was from a famed motivational speaker named Earl Nightingale who had a deep and engaging voice that added a serious dimension to whatever he said.  As I listened to his tapes, it was easy to feel my interest growing as he told his little tales and his lessons began registering within me.

One of his stories was a short retelling of a classic lecture  called Acres of Diamonds from Russell H. Conwell (1843-1925), an interesting fellow who was a baptist minister, a lawyer, a philanthropist and the founder and first president of Temple University.  The lecture, one that Conwell delivered over 5000 times during his lifetime, made the point that the riches we seek are often right in our own backyards.  His tale is of an African farmer who sells his farm in order to go in search of diamonds and finds nothing but failure that ends with his suicide.  Meanwhile, the man who took over the farm found an abundance of diamonds and ended up with one of the largest diamond mines in Africa.

There were a lot of lessons to be learned from this tale but primarily  what I took away  was that I must leave the car business–it was not my backyard.   It was the place to which I had come in search of my own diamonds.  I had not even, at that point, began to search my own backyard. I am not sure if that was the message that management had been hoping would sink in.  Or maybe it was.

The other part of Nightingale’s message was that you had to set a course, aim for a destination.  Everything was possible if you knew where you wanted to go and truly set your mind to it.  He gave a laundry list of great human accomplishments that were achieved once we put our minds and wills in motion towards their fulfillment.  That resonated strongly with me.  I had seen many people over the years who seemed deeply unhappy in their lives and most had no direction going forward, no destination for which they were working.  Aimless, they drifted like a rudderless boat on the sea, going wherever the strongest current took them without having any influence over this motion.

If you can name it, you can do it in some form.

As I said, it’s funny how things influence you.  It’s been about twenty five years since I heard those words but they still resonate strongly with me, even now.  I try to be always conscious of the goals I set, knowing that the mind and the universe will always try to make a way for the possibility of achievement.

Read Full Post »

I was going through my files, looking at some work from several years ago. It’s something I do on a pretty regular basis as a way to charge my batteries. I see things in these older pieces that reignite ideas that have been swept away to the folds of my brain. Sometimes an idea, like a new composition, comes in a flash that seems exciting, something that tells me that I need to followup on it. Then hours later it is gone or has turned hazy, replaced by the work at hand.  

Oh, sometimes I write them down, rough sketches on loose bits of paper but more often than not they go into that heap that resides somewhere deep inside me. Sometimes they come back on their own, happily for me. Other times, they need a little coaxing, a prod of my memory that sometimes takes place when I revisit older work. Seeing this earlier work in sequence, grouped together, kicks off memories and these older ideas sometimes jump forward. Old friends.

I had that feeling just this morning. I wasn’t going to write anything, was just going to get to work on some things that needed finishing and maybe start a new piece with the hope that the work would create its own inspiration. That is often the case. But I came across a piece from a group of work that I did back in 2011, sepia toned interiors with landscape seen distantly through windows. It excited me on many levels to see the whole group together and I had flashes of other ideas that had either been hiding or were newly forming. It energized me greatly.

Here’s one of those pieces from back in 2011 and what I wrote at the time:

This is a painting I recently finished, a small piece, only 4″ square on paper.  It’s a mix of landscape and very uncomplicated still life with stark but distinct elements throughout.  There’s a simplicity that runs through this scene that covers a depth of feeling, a pang from the heart.

I sat this aside for a day or two after finishing it and found myself coming back to it.  There was a familiar tone to it that reminded me of something that I couldn’t quite identify until this morning when I walked into the studio.  I looked at it as I sat down and instantly said to myself, “Far From Me.”

It was the old John Prine song from his first album which came out forty years back, in 1971. There was something in this piece that filled me the feeling of Prine’s lyrics of gradual loss:

And the sky is black and still now

On the hill where the angels sing

Ain’t it funny how an old broken bottle

Looks just like a diamond ring

But it’s far, far from me

This piece will probably always be that song now for me, a personal avatar for a song buried deep inside and often forgotten.  Funny how things work…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: