Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Painting’

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

For the mystic what is how. For the craftsman how is what. For the artist what and how are one.

–William McElcheran, Canadian Sculptor 1927-1999

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

This morning I came across the quote above from the great Canadian sculptor William McElcheran that I featured here a few years back. Its wordplay and meaning both still ring a bell for me, even though I am not sure of McElcheran’s definitions of what and how. I have searched several times trying to find the origin of this quote to see the context in which it was first said but it seems to simply stand alone.

And I guess that’s okay because it says a lot and is complete in its meaning, at least in the way I perceive it.

I guess I fall in the artist category here. I am definitely searching for the what in my work regardless of the how that is required to get there. I will gladly alter my how to get to the what. My how is not based on tradition, is not absolute in any way and changes as needed. Yet, it is still crucial that it remains my how because if I feel that if I defer to another how exclusively it ceases to be my how and fails to express my individual voice.

It is when the how and the what merge that I feel most satisfied in my work.

Now, if you can follow that– and I am not really sure that I can myself– you must obviously fall into the mystic category.

I used the painting at the top, Spirit of Silence, which is part of my current Principle Gallery show, because it feels to me like it falls in that area where the how and what come together. It is a simply built painting where the how of it seems to roll perfectly into the what that it conveys. I immediately thought of this piece when I read the words at the top earlier.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

+++++++++++++++++

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

+++++++++++++++++

I wish I had a bit more time this morning to write about this smaller painting, a 10″ by 20″ canvas that takes it title, Nature’s Heart,  from the words above from the fabled naturalist John Muir. There has been a recent assault on many of the protections given to our environment and we can’t afford to idly stand by while this happens.

We need clean air, clean water and clean soil to continue as a species. Just as important, we need those pristine places where we can wash our spirits clean, as Muir said.

I see this piece as a plea for everyone to take a position as caretakers of the world in which they aim to prosper.

Take an active stand. Listen and speak up.

Be nature’s heart…

++++++++++

This painting, Nature’s Heart, is part of Haven, my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria that opens next Friday, June 1.

Read Full Post »

++++++++++++

I felt deep within me that the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge or Virtue or Goodness or Victory but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!

Nikos Kazantzakis

++++++++++++

I was all set to write something this morning about stupidity. I noticed that a post I wrote a year ago, On Stupidity, has been getting a large number of views lately. It is about the danger of stupidity, about how even the very highly educated can be stupid, especially in highly charged times when they can fall prey to social and political movements. This coincided with recent thoughts I have been having about how we have devalued intelligence and reason in this nation in recent times, to a point of vilifying the cerebral and elevating moronic behavior.

I was deflated by the whole thing and decided I needed to focus on something other than that, something that dealt with something far more uplifting. I came across the words above from author Nikos Kazantzakis from his book Zorba the Greek. It’s part of a scene where the narrator, a young, bookish Greek man is asked by Zorba, a raw and raucous peasant, to explain the meaning of the stars and the universe that they are sitting beneath. The narrator tries unsuccessfully to put this idea of  Sacred Awe into a form that Zorba will understand. While he doesn’t understand the given explanation, Zorba does recognize the depth of the mystery that he senses in that night sky.

That brings me to this painting, a 36″ by 36″ canvas that I am calling Sacred Awe. It is part of my solo show, Haven, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, opening June 1.

This piece has been hanging in the studio for several months now and I have spent a fair amount of time in the space of this painting. Like Zorba, it is a painting that begs for an answer to the mystery of the stars and the constellations that swirl above. Yet all that is given in response is a sense of awe and nothing more.

And nothing more is needed.

Sacred Awe elevates the mind, stimulates the senses and is the beginning of all art and poetry. In it we connect to a mystic continuum that sees us as small as particles of dust and as large as the great waves of light that pass through the vastness of space.

It is all and it is nothing.

There’s a great meditative  and mysterious quality in this painting, at least for me. It both pleases and puzzles me.

A fitting response to sacred awe.

Read Full Post »

Marsden Hartley- Himmel 1915

++++++++++++++

I have come to the conclusion that it is better to have two colors in right relation to each other than to have a vast confusion of emotional exuberance. . . I had rather be intellectually right than emotionally exuberant.

–Marsden Hartley
++++++++++++++
I have been a fan of the paintings of Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) for some time now. I was reading about him earlier and came across this quote  that caught my attention, making me think about what I hoped to accomplish in my own work.
.
I often speak about creating work that has an immediate emotional impact achieved with colors and forms. But maybe, as Hartley’s words have prompted me to think, this first purely visceral and emotional impact is pure exuberance. Just a gut reaction that comes in that instant before the mind has time to engage.
.
A shout that makes you turn and look.
.
While that is good and desired, it’s doubtful that it can stand by itself and have a lasting effect unless it has an intellectual aspect to engage the viewer’s mind. There needs to be a balance between the mind and the gut.
.
If you turn at hearing a shout and the person doing the shouting is shouting just to make you turn and has nothing more to say to you, you keep moving and soon forget that person. But if you turn and the shouter has something more to offer, you might linger a bit to consider what is being said and engage in a conversation.
.
When you do move on, you take something from this engagement with you, something that will stay with you.
.
I am not sure this an apt analogy but it immediately came to mind on reading Hartley’s words. I don’t exactly know how this mind/gut balance works or how it can be accomplished in reality. Maybe even consciously trying to do so throws the whole thing off kilter.
.
It’s early in the morning and I am just thinking here. Time to go try to put it into action…

Marsden Hartley- Portrait of a German Officer 1914

Read Full Post »

When you think of painting as painting it is rather absurd. The real world is before us – glorious sunlight and activity and fresh air, and high speed motor cars and television, all the animation – a world apart from a little square of canvas that you smear paint on.

–Wayne Thiebaud

+++++++++++++++++++

These words from the great contemporary painter Wayne Thiebaud ring completely true for me. I have talked and written many times before about those moments in the studio when I suddenly find the whole idea of painting, of smearing paint on some surface, completely absurd. The whole idea of making these two-dimensional things that represent inner feelings about the outer world seems suddenly abstract and, to be honest, a little ridiculous.

It’s a little like waking up one day to find yourself standing in your yard with a forked stick in your hand. You began by thinking it was a divining rod that would mysteriously lead you to something valuable but in that moment you realize you’re just a fool standing in your yard with a stick.

Believe me, there are days when I feel like a fool standing in a room with a stick in my hands. Of course, my stick has bristles with paint on them but it might as well just be a stick in those moments.

But somehow that feeling passes and I find myself immersed back in my own little world and that stick returns to being a divining rod.

Wayne Thiebaud has long been a favorite of mine.  Most people associate his name with his paintings of  cakes, ice cream and confections with their bold colors and beautiful thick brushstrokes. They are wonderful but for me, his most striking work are his landscapes, often set from a high perspective.  They have such great color and their compositions feel as much like abstraction as they do realism.

Just plain good stuff.

I always feel inspired by this work, moving me to try to find that same balance in my own work.

Here’s a video of his confectionery works, which is, as I said, his more popular work. I haven’t found video with his landscapes but this is still a good intro to his best known work.

Read Full Post »

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

I see the words of James Stephens, an Irish poet who lived from 1882 until 1950, in the painting above, Native Voice.

The sun and sky represents the first condition, Chaos.

The fields represent the first law, Order.

The direct line that runs from the sun and ends at the Red Tree represents the first reflection, Continuity.

The still reflection of the Red Tree is the first happiness, Quietude.

Something to shoot for…

 

 

Read Full Post »

I have been living with this painting, Introspection, for several months now in the studio. It’s been in a spot where my eye regularly falls on it and it never fails to make me pause for a second or two to give it some consideration. It fulfills its title very well for me, reminding me to look inward on a regular basis while trying to shut out the noise of the world of man.

It’s leaving the studio today, heading out to California to hang at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo. I think I am going to truly miss its gentle reminder.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: