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Posts Tagged ‘Quote’

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Painting for me is like a fabric, all of a piece and uniform, with one set of threads as the representational, esthetic element, and the cross-threads as the technical, architectural, or abstract element. These threads are interdependent and complementary, and if one set is lacking the fabric does not exist. A picture with no representational purpose is to my mind always an incomplete technical exercise, for the only purpose of any picture is to achieve representation.

–Juan Gris

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I like this idea of painting being a fabric with a weft and a warp of elements that bring the representation to its full realization. It’s this idea that allows for such differing versions of the same image. One set of threads bring the recognizable form while the other allows for the individual artistic interpretation. Some fabrics are richer and some are coarser. Some are stronger and some are weaker.

I may not be explaining it very well but I understand it.

This comes from the great Cubist painter Juan Gris, who was born in Spain in 1887 and died in France in 1927, leaving behind a consistently wonderful  body of work. He is thought of as one of the most important of the Cubists, perhaps only eclipsed by Picasso and Braque.

Since he died at such a relatively young age– 40 years old– it makes one wonder how his work would have evolved in the later years of maturity that he never obtained. As it is, there is a lot to see in his work.

His most famous piece, Still Life with Checked Tablecloth from 1915, is at the top of this page. It sold at auction in 2014 for $57.1 million and is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. You can click here and go their Met Collects site to get a closer look at the painting. Being able to look closely at the surfaces is very illuminating to me. Take a look for yourself.

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Kay WalkingStick- New Mexico Desert 2011

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Avoid methodology. If what you’re doing is about technique, that’s not art.

–Kay WalkingStick

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Very much agree with this quote from contemporary landscape painter Kay WalkingStick. Soon to be 84 years old, Kay WalkingStick is a member of the Cherokee Nation who was raised in Syracuse and was an art professor at nearby Cornell University for a number of years. She incorporates Native American symbols and patterns in her work, which are often executed in diptych forms.

Even though there has been a physical proximity. I don’t know a lot about her work. I would love to see it up close to examine the surfaces, to see how the pieces speak in person.

Her advice about not tying yourself solely to process is a most valuable lesson for all artists. I think you need to live in the fringes of technique, always ready to stray into territory of material use that is new to you as an artist. You need to feel a bit lost so that you react intuitively, using what little you do know in new ways.

That is where the magic sometimes happens, where art takes place.

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“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

― Winston Churchill

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I saw an idiot* on television yesterday say, “The buck stops with everybody.”

Inspiring stuff. A new chapter in Profiles in Courage.

But, even though this pains me to say, the moron* was right.

Well, right in a way, not in the instance of which he was speaking, where he was trying to relieve himself of all responsibility for the particular situation in which he finds himself. No, the fool* is the primary bearer of the responsibility for that.

I am saying the buck stops with us all right now. We have allowed and enabled this whole ugly situation to take place. We have willingly given a looter a flamethrower and we are now witnessing how much damage can be done as he flees the scene.

And he* is very much a looter.  Think about it.

A looter comes riding in on a wave of chaos and confusion, grabbing whatever he can as he runs through the mayhem. He thrives on the bedlam taking place around him because his only concern, his only focus, is on himself alone. He carelessly pushes people aside to get where and what he wants. Not a bit of care for the damage being done or the losses suffered from his actions. Not a single thought for those hurt as he tramples through.

And when it looks like the authorities are closing in, the looter* uses his flamethrower and sows even more confusion. When the whole city is ablaze, you focus on putting out the fire. The looter* focuses only on moving himself to safety.

It is now time for us all to understand that this is our responsibility to end this chaos, to extinguish the fires and take the flamethrower out of the tiny hands of the looter*. We must make our presence felt and our voices heard. Hit the phones and keyboards. Take to the streets and do it now. We can’t depend on anyone else doing it for us.

It is our responsibility.

If we want to continue to be considered a great nation, this is the price we must now pay. Because as Winston Churchill states above, responsibility is the price for greatness.

Or as a reality TV show nitwit* once said, “The buck stops with everybody.”

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My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the ‘light’ and never mentioned the other, then as an artist, I would be a liar.

–Charles Bukowski

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This is a painting, Sleepwalk, from back in 2002. It is part of what I call my Dark Work which was when I first began working on a black painted surface. The idea was to make the blackness part of the painting, to give the painting the darkness against which I could set the contrast of the light.

Like the poet Charles Bukowski says above, I felt that in order to be honest as an artist I had to incorporate my own darkness in my work. Utilizing the darkness kept the perceived optimism of the work from wandering into the territory of cockeyed Pollyanna-ism. It provided contrast in the form of a sense of reality, a basis for validating the optimism of the light and the color.

Light needs dark, plain and simple.

The Dark Work was very important for me and I continue to paint using the same process and techniques I developed in that time. This particular piece has lived with me for many years now and I love pulling it out to study it from time to time. There always seems to be something new to focus on. A brushstroke. A section of the texture. The transition of one color into another.

It provides lessons that memory has long forgotten as I continue my own sleepwalk through this life.

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Chagall/Work to Live

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Work isn’t to make money; you work to justify life.

Marc Chagall

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Whenever I am feeling frazzled or creatively blocked, there is always comfort in turning to Marc Chagall. Both his work and his words work wonders for me. I can’t speak for other artists but making using money as an incentive to create never turns out well for me. The work must validate my existence, give me a reason for being. Otherwise, it is hollow and lifeless.

Art is life and life is art.


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Where I used to strive for movement and restlessness I now attempt to sense and express the complete total calm of objects and the surrounding air.

Lyonel Feininger

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Earlier this year on this blog, I showed a few paintings from American painter Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956). Every time I come across one of his pieces I am struck by the harmony and calmness they present. That perception– and the seeking of it– of the quietude of object and place is something I understand. Or, at least, aspire to understand.

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In a way Winter is the real Spring – the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.

Edna O’Brien

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Today is the Winter Solstice. It is the day in which the Earth, tilting on its axis as it makes its way around our sun, reaching its maximum tilt, giving us the shortest, darkest day of our year here in the northern hemisphere.

It is a day that fits well symbolically into our current state of affairs. At the moment, I am not sure that it will not spin right off it axis.

Here, the darkness of the day fits, as well. While unseasonably warm, it is exceedingly dark and rainy. Grim, really. Especially here in the woods where I have reverted from being a creature of ice into once again being a mud person.

Every move outside is a trek traveling through are what seems like endless trenches of mud. Even the trail through the grass that chipmunks have made through the years from a nearby rock pile to our bird feeders has turned into a muddy trench.

But despite the absolute criminal lunacy (this solstice does comes with a full moon, by the way) of what is taking place within the executive branch of our government, despite the grimy and endlessly gray muddiness surrounding me, despite the anxiety of an upcoming holiday, despite it all– I am comforted by the day.

Perhaps it is because, as the great Irish novelist Edna O’Brien says, it is the time when the inner things happen. For me, this has been the truth of my life for the past twenty years or so. I am comforted by knowing that once I get past the next week or two, I will be willingly locked in a creative cocoon. It is very much an internal period, one that has generally been a highly productive time for my work.

So, in the darkness of the solstice, I gird myself for what new horror today’s news cycle will reveal and for the distractions and responsibilities that comes with the holidays, prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.

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