choose an inspiration spot and set it up with materials, good light, great chair, huge palette, tons of brushes/tools, canvases, paper...even if you can't imagine even going near it...put up some images that inspire, old photos, drawings, half finished works, torn out mag pages...keep out the work that reminds of how you got stuck. Sit there, even if only to stare at the wall, for a minute, touch everything, smell the turp, test the chair, fondle the brushes.
THE JOURNEY BACK TO THE EASEL
it's been now years since I have posted here, and I want to acknowledge here, among many others, the contribution of my good friend Tom, whose staunch faith in the creative cloud floating above our heads and hearts reminded me over and over of who we are and why...The long trek back from my creative desert has entailed much personal strife, during which I was not able to paint or write for fear of publicly overstepping both common decency and personal boundary ... there is no doubt that my work is nothing if not autobiographical to my own eye (though it is quite possible that nobody else sees that...) and revealing all was just too overwhelming, even for me!
Now that time has spread a diffusing veil over all, I thought I would restart this blog by writing about my ongoing journey back to the easel, back to that part of myself that lives slightly beyond the grasp of words. This is the part that feels dizzyingly like a true self, free falling in an elusive intimate space. Writing about that space has always been a crucially useful tool to clarify both my thought and my image, the two inexorably intertwined, a way in. Words and paint strokes bear an uncanny relationship in my thought process, as if one might not exist without the other, or might be relegated to only half of their true possibility. My images are not in any way verbal, but I do elaborate my concepts concurrently visual/verbal, an awareness which greatly benefits from being articulated...
For the past few years nothing has induced quite the degree of anxiety as those tightly wrapped and taped boxes marked "studio" or "canvases" or "art supplies". They sat there for such a long time in the bottom of my storage space, taunting me, inducing a gut wrenching doubt that perhaps my creative days were just a fig newton of my imagination, some lost state of self I might never recover or that I merely dreamed about.
So much has changed in these past few years, I had come to terms with my bottom line and found it terrifyingly wanting. What I needed was time to grow a whole new set of eyes adjusted to my new surroundings... I was still looking at the world (i.e. myself) with my old eyes...Slowly I am waking up to a new way of thinking (seeing) and gathering my wits around a whole new self perception, a sort of rarefied, atomised, floating idea, where nothing is fixed, nor even in need of a precise location, and yet, strangely, the new work is all about geography...
Today the only work I got done was a single stroke to correct the floater's left elbow...tomorrow won't be much better either...:(
Interesting process this multibody composition that fuses under constant gaze into one huge abstract, each square inch requiring it's own approach and solution, a methodical ritualistic mantra one rediscovers and repeats until all somehow melds into a whole...I like to work around the canvas, it is so huge, zooming into a small area as if each were a painting in itself, and then moving to a neighboring bit of surface while the colors are still wet. Several of the bodies still need refining in the underlayer even though I do like the sort of unintelligeable (sp?) jumble of limbs that seem to be supporting the floater. I have started shooting photos, you can see a couple stuck in the upper canvas, so I am now staging poses and lighting and it's a lot of fun. Luckily I have a couple of excellent models lying around the house, so in the next couple of days I will have a few new images to work on...
hummingbird, 2010 (detail)
This image is all about the darkness of the figures in the foreground, vs the light that rains down from above. I must keep that in mind. It defines the composition, the distance between the viewer and the pictorial space, the plot, the weight of the bodies...everything. Her floatiness is in counterpoint to their solidity. I have added the drummer (minus the drum) to the right. I like his glasses and his upturned face and his gaunt body. Pouring the light onto him will be a challenge as his is not part of the original composition, as he looks on somewhat detached and guarded from behind his shades. Today I started adding the light. I used titanium, for maximum opaqueness, mixed it with the terre verte as I develop the verdaccio layer. I sort of attacked the smiling man, but I will go back and redo him, first with a verdaccio, and be patient about my progress. I find the verdaccio layer helps me define the bodies in a more substantial way, and that is useful. One step at a time. As I work each figure they acquire a role in the ensemble. Their form and their role come into being at the same time, and that cannot be rushed.
I have created two entries points into the picture, one emotional, in the manner of the man facing the viewer. This smiling face and downward gaze and open body invite the viewer in. Another opening is a figurative opening between the muscle man's back and the drummer. Yes, the female figure (which I call Eve, as she walks away repentant cast out of eden) fills the space but not before allowing an entrance into the pictorial space.
By the way, if you are wondering what the swirlies are at the top...over the last three days a humming bird has flown into my studio, doing a few loops and turns and then gratefully exiting through the window that I open for it. At first I was terrified by its buglike buziness and nosedives, but now I look forward to the visits. I record its trajectories in the space above. I love that.
hovering - the underpainting
Ok, so here is a new image. It is immense, 100x160 cm canvas, and what I have so far is a raw under-painting on an irregular pinkish/yellow ground of a group of figures carrying a woman above their heads. Keep in mind that the under-painting is the equivalent to a writer's brainstorming where all is still possible in terms of inclusion/modification or elimination. I like this part a lot. A swipe of a solvent soaked cloth and it is gone! Right now I am merely defining the light and dark masses while eeking out the composition.
Ostensibly it is an image of an Ibiza summer party, fun and frolick, but needless to say references abound. The woman's body relates to earlier works of figures that move/float/fall through space (or water) though in this case for the first time the there is actually physical support to her position, many hands holding her up and sharing her weight. Reference to crucifiction in the wide open arms stretching diagonally across the canvas and bystanders/apostles/fellow active participants or mere bystanders in varying degrees of engagement and proximity.
The space above the figures will be abstract, watery filmy dreamy with psychedelic and symbolic references mixed in with water sprays yet to be defined, but speaking to the reading of the image. Lighting from above, of course, isn't that where all illumination comes from? On the right hand corner I plan to sketch in a drummer, so stay tuned.
wow, it's been such a long time!
It's been a while since I have updated this site, but as you can see from the new image I have been doing some heavy lifting that has kept me away from both the studio and the web!
Hopefully this somewhat triumphant blue woman will mark the beginning of a new period of work for me...I used the solid color background to connect me to the last image, icarus ascending, also as a color space for breathing, and God knows we need to breathe. The blue woman is something I have been thinking about for a while, she'll definitely be back, not sure why, but I am sure it will come to me.
Today I am very excited to have found a model to pose for me so there will definitely be some new life studies!
Keep you posted, x
Getting ready for friday
Like Icarus Ascending, 2010
I have been worrying about the bumble bee effect of the suit for several days now, ever since I painted it. This type of problem I simply cannot approach with my head, as much as I do try. I have the panting sitting on an easel at the bottom of my bed and I stare at it or I catch it in the corner of my eye 1000 times a day. I am waiting for it to become part of my unconsciousness...and finally today, in a massive day long free falling session, I suddenly decided to paint everything orange and I absolutely love it. I also turned the image on it's side and now it all works for me. The entire surface is wet and I can't go near it (I used my Milanese oils and they take forever) so next session I will only attempt to glaze the flesh a bit and finish the hair...but not tomorrow....tomorrow I seem to be hosting a party for 20 teens, God help me!!!
Give me a minute please to boil myself down to a single descriptive sentence...I am still working on this!