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Posts Tagged ‘Quote’

A number of artists, take Picasso and De Chirico for examples, talk about about trying to maintain the mind of a child in order to create art. I think there is definitely something to that.

I know that I feel best about my work when kids are attracted to it and know a work is at its best when a kid gives it their approval. They look at it without preconceptions and biases, judging it solely on how it speaks to them personally. They often can read the emotional tenor and meaning of the work without needing explanation of any sort. They seem to have a built-in ability to read the innate symbolism of art.

How to stay in that dreamlike state, that mind of a child? That is the real question and I don’t know that there is an answer. Maybe not trying to answer the question is part of the answer. Just do the work with the trust that you are being open and honest without condescending your message to anyone. Perhaps then the work may approach that goal, might speak with and to the mind of a child.

Or so I hope.

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“Living right in the heart of Tokyo itself is quite like living in the mountains – in the midst of so many people, one hardly sees anyone.”

― Yūko Tsushima, Of Dogs and Walls

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This is a new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that was inspired in part by the older painting I showed here last week, Raise Your Eyes.  Unlike my normal Red Roof structures which have a closed off feel without doors or windows, these cityscapes are all doors and windows.

All eyes, ears, and mouths.

But as the late, esteemed Japanese writer Yuko Tsushima described in the words above, even with the presence of so many buildings filled with so many people, there is often a sense of anonymity. Perhaps it is the scale of the buildings which sometimes seem like looming mountains that overshadow anything beneath them. Or maybe it is the sheer number of people, so many that the faces and shapes blend into an amorphous blur in passing.

I’m not sure exactly what it is that gives this sense of anonymity but I find the paradox in it fascinating. Maybe that’s one reason why I enjoy painting these pieces so much. The main reason I believe is in the focus required in putting these together. Starting at the bottom of the canvas with no predetermined endpoint in mind, the picture rises slowly with each new structure leading to the next, all the while trying to ascertain how each new move changes the weight and feel of the whole.

Every stroke is a solution to one problem and the beginning of the next.

For me, the result is kind of like looking inside my head. It resembles a jumble, sometimes sloppy and tangled. But somehow, through the mess, it is always trying to create a sense of wholeness, of rightness.

Trying to find order in chaos.

Sometimes, I find it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I am still not sure this painting is finished. I am calling it for time being Around the Clock but for a time had considered calling it Witnesses or Hit and Run. I saw it with a body on the pavement of the intersection at the bottom right of the piece. and maybe a silhouette or two in the windows that look out on it. But I am not sure that I want to add that narrative thread, not sure that I want to change what I am looking at now in that manner.

So, I will dwell on it for a bit before I do anything. Or don’t.

We shall see…

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People have the idea that an image must stand for something else, that the real meaning needs to be described with language. Instead it is the image itself that is the meaning.

Mark Ryden

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I came across the quote above from contemporary artist Mark Ryden and it struck a chord with me. So, often an image has a feeling to it  that is beyond words that adequately describe it. I know I have sometimes written about a piece of  mine and even though I have tried to fully describe how it strikes me, I often feel that the words fall well short.

Sometimes you just have to let the image be what it is.

Now, to be honest, I don’t know a lot about Mark Ryden except that he is a contemporary big name artist that works in the genre of Pop Surrealism. His work is sometimes also called Lowbrow which is a movement that began in LA in the 1970’s based on underground comix, punk music and other fringe pop references such as the tiki and hot rod cultures of the region. You may best know his work from his album cover painting for Michael Jackson’s Dangerous.

His work is engaging and appealing on many levels with recurring themes that run through the work. It is rich in symbolism though I think there is so much ambiguity that one could get lost in trying to decode many of the paintings. Which makes his statement about the image itself being its own meaning even more understandable.

I also came across another quote from Ryden that hits close to home for me: I believe if you follow your heart and do what you love, success will follow. If you enchant yourself, others will be too.

It’s something I have been saying for many years now. The biggest challenge as an artist is creating in yourself an excitement with your own work. If you are excited– enchanted in Ryden’s words– by it, more likely than not, it will excite others as well.

I can see where Ryden would be exchanted in his own work. It is something to which any artist in any field should aspire.

 

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Practically all great artists accept the influence of others. But… the artist with vision… by integrating what he has learned with his own experiences… molds something distinctly personal.

-Romare Bearden

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This morning, I came across this quote from Romare Bearden, a favorite of mine. It reminded me of a conversation I had with another artist last night at the opening for the Masterpieces exhibit at the West End Gallery.

This artist, who has a formidable talent level that was obvious to see in their past work, is in the midst of breaking loose creatively in a way that is establishing a distinct voice. It’s exciting to see the work blossom, thrilling to see an artist take their toolbag of acquired skills and transform them into something unique and personal, something that moves them out and away from their teachers and influences.

It is interesting to witness this artist’s enthusiasm for the new work balloon in a way that creates even more enthusiasm. Each new piece pushes the next forward and forms more and more energy. And that personal voice becomes stronger.

It’s a rare thing to experience and a hard thing to describe. But it is certainly fun to watch when it does happen.

To go with the Bearden piece at the top, Jazz II, from 1980, I thought I’d share the Miles Davis classic So What. Seems like a good way to start yet another dark gray Saturday.

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Art has always been my salvation. And my gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart. And when Mozart is playing in my room, I am in conjunction with something I can’t explain — I don’t need to. I know that if there’s a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart. Or if I walk in the woods and I see an animal, the purpose of my life was to see that animal. I can recollect it, I can notice it. I’m here to take note of. And that is beyond my ego, beyond anything that belongs to me, an observer, an observer.

–Maurice Sendak

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Amen to these wise words from the late great Maurice Sendak.

Thought it might be nice to share some of his work beyond Where the Wild Things Are. It is equally as wonderful.

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The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become.

Alphonse Mucha

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You most likely know the work of Czech painter Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) for his extremely popular posters that set the style for and were the epitome of the Art Nouveau movement. It was beautiful and graceful work much like the piece shown here on the right.

That was definitely the extent of my knowledge about Mucha’s work. And that alone would be a worthy enough achievement for most artists. But his greatest work may well be his monumental Slav Epic series.

The Slav Epic is comprised of 20 large works that depict the history and the mythology of the Slavic people. It was painted over the course of 16 years with the aid of financial support of American industrialist/philanthropist Charles Crane. The works are all painted on a grand scale with some of them measuring 20 feet in height and 25 feet in width.

They somehow survived Czech occupations by both Nazis and Soviets who both saw the work as being counter to their ideologies. Mucha died soon after being interviewed by the Gestapo in 1939. The paintings are now in possession of the Czech government who are in the process of creating a museum to permanently display this magnificent work. I am sharing a number of images below that show them with viewers so as to give  an idea of the sheer scale of the works.

Pretty amazing. Good reason to get to Prague.

Alphonse Mucha- Slavs in Original Homeland

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Diego Rivera- Zapatista Landscape 1915

 

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As an artist I have always tried to be faithful to my vision of life, and I have frequently been in conflict with those who wanted me to paint not what I saw but what they wished me to see.

–Diego Rivera

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Big fan of the work of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), the great Mexican painter/muralist and husband of Frida Kahlo. There is much I love in his work such as the way his colors harmonize and soar off the surfaces, the sheer brilliance of his compositions, the scale and breadth of his murals and the fact that his work was beautiful and powerful in whatever genre or style he chose at any given moment. He was also fearless in expressing his political and philosophical beliefs in his work, often becoming a strong element in his work.

I also admire his absolute devotion to his own voice in his work, as noted in the quote above. He painted his own vision, not what others desired him to see. That’s a big thing for any artist and not something easily done. Too often artists try to work for the approval of other eyes, for people who want their work to remain as they have always known it.

It’s understandable from the perspective of a viewer to want an artist to remain in that space that first attracted the viewer. They know and like the work as it is and perhaps can’t imagine it becoming more than it is if it somehow evolves or changes. Or they fear it will become less or something that doesn’t speak to them in the same way. As I said, it’s understandable.

But from the artist’s point of view this present a threat in that this may stop them from expanding their creative vision. They begin to be afraid to go off their own beaten path, to try new things, to move out of their comfort zone to challenge themselves, and to grow their self-created universe. They remain in a known space and may never know how expansive their vision might be if they only tried.

From what I know, Diego Rivera always moved to new creative spaces with his work. He painted with his own voice, even in his commissioned murals. I still stumble on pieces of his that surprise me.

A true inspiration.

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Diego Rivera’s Mural at the City College of San Francisco

Detroit Institute of Arts Mural Segment

Diego Rivera- Flower Seller

Diego Rivera- The Alarm Clock

Diego Rivera- Nocturnal Landscape 1947

Diego Rivera- Symbolic Landscape 1940

Diego Rivera- View of Toledo 1912

Detroit Institute of Arts Mural Segment

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