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Archive for the ‘Quote’ Category

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I have made a great discovery. I no longer believe in anything. Objects don’t exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence, what I can only describe as a sense of peace, which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry.

Georges Braque

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Just about anything I read  from Georges Braque (1882-1963) makes me stop and think. I am still trying to digest this. In one moment it makes perfect sense and aligns with my own thoughts while the next it confounds me, like I’ve turned down a street that is totally unrecognizable. Not sure which way to turn.

But there is something in the pondering that makes me think it might be worthwhile.

Braque had a pretty amazing career, moving from Impressionism to Cubism to Fauvism and Expressionism with his own unique voice. Here are some of my favorites.

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I have been in a funk in the studio for the past couple of weeks. It feels as though any momentum or confidence about my work that I thought was permanently embedded in myself seems to have completely evaporated. I should have known better than to think that things had changed, that I had somehow gained some new kind of unwavering confidence that would inure me to my natural uncertainty. This happens quite often with me, as I have documented here before. Like the words from Goethe below, my own progression as an artist moves in a spiral, sometimes pulsing forward and some times retreating.

Evolution and dissolution.

I went back to a post that I have twice posted here that describes a time not much different than my current situation. I felt out of sorts and uncertain, definitely in need of a pep talk that could only come from my own experience of overcoming this inertia. Here’s that post:

Robert Smithson Spiral Jetty

Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral
with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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I was looking at a book catalog yesterday, just browsing for something new and I spotted a book on the works of Robert Smithson, who is best known for his monumental earthworks. The most famous is shown here, the Spiral Jetty, which juts out into the Great Salt Lake in Utah. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by earth-moving on a large scale and have admired Smithson’s work whenever I came across it.

The reason I mention this now is that I found myself thinking smaller lately, painting smaller paintings for a smaller economy. Part of this was a conscious decision but part was the result of just becoming a little more wary with all the turmoil in the world. There has been a period of introversion marked by a noticeable withdrawal from thinking boldly. Seeing this reminded me of the need to think big.

I realized I had become a bit fearful of pushing myself, perhaps afraid of exposing my limitations. I had lost a little faith in my own abilities, including the ability to adapt to new challenges.

I was being safe. It was the retrogression that Goethe talks of in the quote above. I was in the spiral.

This all flashed in my head within a few seconds of seeing the spiral jetty. Funny how a single image can trigger a stream of thought with so many branches off of it.

I had forgotten that I had to trust myself and throw the fear of failure aside, that thinking bold almost always summons up the best in many people. Once you say that you don’t give a damn what anyone says, that if you fail so be it, the road opens up before you and your mind finds a way to get you on it.

So I have to remember to think big.

To look past the horizon. Just freaking do it.

Then progress will come…

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Will Barnet/Age

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Painting is almost like a religious experience, which should go on and on. Age just gives you the freedom to do some things you’ve never done before. Great work can come at any stage of your life.

–Will Barnet

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I have known the work of Will Barnet for many years and usually immediately recognize his work. But what I didn’t know was that the work that I associate with him is only the most recent work from a career that spanned eighty years.

Yeah, eighty years spread over nine decades.

To give an idea of the span of his career, as a child automobiles and aeronautics were in their infancy and he actually saw John Singer Sargent working on the murals at the Boston Public Library. At his death, we were on the verge of private space flight and self driving cars. Imagery is now transmitted instantly around the globe via the internet.

A small computer chip can practically hold all the content of the Boston Public Library.

Barnet, born in 1911 and died in 2012 at the age of 101, knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist. What I admire is that his career followed a series of radical transitions throughout his career, constantly changing but always maintaining his own voice and maintaining a high level on consistent quality.

But more than that was need to continue his work. On the day he died, he had worked on a large ambitious painting of his granddaughter.

It’s a fascinating evolution, one that greatly interests me at the current stage of my career. Seeing painters such as Barnet painting to such an advanced age while still evolving is inspiring, giving me hope that I can continue on the path I am on for decades to come.

Obviously, I am showing only a tiny portion of his work here. Below is a video of the work that first made me aware of Barnet. The others are a selection from various periods just to give a sample of the range his career encompassed.

Will Barnet- Martha and Her Cats- 1984

Will Barnet

Will Barnet- Abstract Composition – 1957

Will Barnet – Big Duluth- 1960

Will Barnet- Early Spring- 1977

Will Barnet- Father and Parrot- 1948

Will Barnet- Play- 1975

Will Barnet- Children Drawing- 1946

Will Barnet- Idle Hands- 1935

Will Barnet- February- 1980

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Art lives and dies in the unique heart of he who carries it, just as all feelings only live and expand in the souls of those who feel them. There is no history of art — there is the history of artists.

Marianne von Werefkin

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Marianne von Werefkin is a name that often catches my eye when I am digging around for art online. It always stands out even though I don’t have any knowledge of her work so at some point I finally looked closer at her work. And, like so many little known artists that I come across, I have to say I was pleased by the work I found.

Marianne von Werefkin Self Portrait

She was born in Russia in 1860 and died in Switzerland in 1938. Throughout her life she was associated with several important painting groups and movements in Europe though she never achieved widespread recognition for her work, certainly nothing close to that of her peers such as Kandinsky and Klee. It was difficult for a woman to stand out in the male dominated world of art at that time. Fortunately, that has been changing over the past century though I am sure not as quick as it should.

I am very taken with much of her work, especially the compositions and the way in which she expresses her self in forms. I also have enjoyed a few quotes and other writings she left behind, which like her compositions line up with my own viewpoints.

Here are a couple of other examples;

All bores me in the world of facts, I see an end, a limit to all things and my heart thirsts for the infinite and for eternity.

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The artist is the only one who detaches himself from life, opposes his personality against it, he is the only one who orders things as he wishes them to be in place of things as they are. Thus, for him life is not a fait accompli, it is something to remake, to do again.

I know I am not giving you a lot of info here today outside a few quotes and images. But take a look and in it strikes you, dig a bit deeper for yourself. I think you will be rewarded. I see her work as just good stuff. And for me, that is a high compliment.

DGA510708 The Black Women, by Marianne Werefkin (1860-1938), gouache on cardboard, 1910; (add.info.: The Black Women, 1910, by Marianne Werefkin (1860-1938), gouache on cardboard.
Artwork-location: Hanover, Sprengel Museum Hannover (Art Museum)); De Agostini Picture Library / M. Carrieri; out of copyright

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The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.

–George Inness
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I am always thrilled with the paintings of George Inness, an American painter who lived from 1825 until 1894. He died in Scotland where it is said upon viewing a spectacular sunset, threw his hands in the air and said, “My God! oh, how beautiful!” He then fell to the ground and passed away a few minutes later
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He obviously lived and died for the spiritual nature of his landscapes.
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I believe he was perhaps the most influential American painter of the 19th century. His work was groudbreaking at the time and his use of light and color created landscapes filled with a powerful spiritual element.
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I feel a sense of spiritual awakening in much of his works. He moved beyond mere depiction, adding poetry to his landscapes. They feel imbued with an inner light, one that hints strongly to the spiritual.
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You be the judge. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Working Title/Artist: George Inness: Autumn OaksDepartment: Am. Paintings / SculptureCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date:
photography by mma, Digital File ap87.8.8.tif
retouched by film and media (jnc) 8_30_12

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Painting is neither decorative amusement, nor the plastic invention of felt reality; it must be every time: invention, discovery, revelation.

–Max Ernst
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I like this quote from Surrealist painter Max Ernst. It seems that a painting that follows this described route– invention, discovery, revelation— takes on the sense of timelessness that makes it art.
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The invention comes in the actual composition and the initial execution of the painting. Discovery comes in allowing the painting to build in itself, to follow directions that arise during the process. Revelation is recognizing something more in the painting than the subject itself suggests.
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There’s a lot more that could be said on all three of these elements but the shorthand version suits me at the moment. Take that for what it’s worth.
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Character

I am busy getting things around today for a workshop that I am leading up at Penn Yan in the beautiful Finger Lakes tomorrow and Friday. This is only my fourth year doing this but every year I say that this is most likely the last time I will do this. The words have already left my mouth this year.

I do not feel that I am a natural teacher and get somewhat stressed out doing these, much more so than giving a talk. Because the folks at the workshop are paying to be there, I worry that they won’t get their money’s worth. That’s where the anxiety comes in for me. I probably overcompensate in response to this but if it helps me feel that I have given something of value to these folks, then I can accept that.

Even though it’s stressful, I have to say that I am glad to be doing this workshop this year, given what might be happening in the next couple of days in DC. I would rather be teaching a few of my techniques to willing and friendly faces than yelling and swearing at my television.

Now that is stress.

So, I am taking a few days off from the blog. The image and Helen Keller quote at the top speak very much to the trials this country is currently experiencing. Whatever character we possess as a nation, now is the time it will be truly revealed.

Good luck to us all. See you in a few days.

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