starts to make sense
head to the east
nose to the west
purpling wind on a whim I channel my inner Picasso
Dora. By Pablo Picasso
January is coming to a close and with it my mindful writing posts for 2019. I have not focused too much writing about my visual art mainly because I feel (the operative word here) that I’m in a slump sorts. It is the black vortex that all artists face, sometimes after a particularly productive period and sometimes not. It is the most difficult aspect (for me) to deal with: an uninspired, I don’t know what I want to paint, unchallenging and utterly bored/boring bump in the road. During these drought-like periods, painting often feels like a chore and production does not stop altogether, however the output or finished piece is not exciting to the artist. Pablo Picasso famously stated:
And so we do work and plow through these lulls which can last for weeks/months and sometimes for years. Every artist in every genre who is truly a creator, explorer and seeking to grow her/his artistry must work their way through the dull-as-a-dishwasher cycles to breakthroughs. For a fledgling artist this can feel like a first crushing heartbreak and that feeling of “oh no–not again” for the veteran creator. It’s not something you ever imagine could happen when you first fall in love with your vision/passion, and you never want, expect or prepare to end. But end it does bringing with the angst–necessary change for greater creative growth and a deeper more nuanced love. Inspiration is another archetype that walks along side us often at her own quirky pace. She must also find you hungry and willing to surrender to her fire.
The painting below seems to have evolved on its own. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m guessing my fiery muse had something to do with it.
until my brush sneaks past me
lost in the paint
pentimento…regret is always a choice ~
A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent. Since it is my practice to work over much more than traces of past paintings on the canvas–it would seem that I am very regretful for the failure of the original work. Hardly–and on the contrary, I look for used canvases and boards to paint over. A sterile and bright white blank surface often hinders my work. I love to work on borrowed art as long as I sand it down to simple traces of other artist’s paint. In fact, it’s like solving a puzzle to match a new concept to an old board of “borrowed” color and shapes. I am always grateful to repurpose these boards into new life. Some examples below:
“Paint the truth beneath the facts. ” This sage piece of painterly advice was excitedly brought to the attention of a small group of artists sharing studio space by our inspiring mentor and ringleader. Yes” came the enthusiastic response from all of us followed by blank stares at first. After a little discussion, the concept was clarified in other words: “paint the feeling instead of just replicating the scenery.”
Okay, but how to do that when painting an abstract idea to begin with? Can a feeling be abstracted or paired down anymore to its essence? Do we need to call in Carl Jung? What the heck is this all about anyway–I just want to paint please.
There are certain tools or elements to work with including line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space which can be manipulated along with design principles of balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast and movement. Throw in some rhythm and harmony and you’ve got it right? Wishful thinking.
Nuance and finesse can be the deciding factors. Anyone can manipulate line or shape and color, but it is the eye and hand of the artist who shows us what is hidden or unbidden inside each of us, whether that is through the cords of a bluesy song, sensual movement of dance, poetic license or strokes of paint on paper. It is the work of the artist who fights, really hard, to interpret that feeling onto a surface. Sometimes defined as a process or a journey–it is the task of the artist to touch and interpret feeling in order to truly “paint the truth beneath the facts” and turn personal vision into a sweeping sensation for all to share in the movement.
June—a favorite month to be outdoors—to breathe the nascent summer scents, to listen to birdsong and bellowing frogs and wear the warm cloth of the summer sun on bare skin. Evenings too, are especially sensual and sweet with fireflies (or lightning bugs), soft breezes, rustling leaves and rain or stars pulsing a sticky sky. It’s a perfect time to sit and write, read poetry and indulge longings of the creative sort. With that in mind, I let go a free flow of hand through brush and words come what may.
This June, I also watched and was engrossed in National Geographic’s program Genius: Picasso and was very inspired by his relentless pursuit of his artistry and his sad pursuit of women/muses often to the detriment of their lives. There is much debate these days about whether or not one can/should separate the art from the artist. Picasso was narcissistic, egotistical and highly competitive, traits I most often find offensive. However, watching the brilliant performance of the actors on a small screen, his story in hindsight and empathizing with Picasso’s process and pain as an artist, I was engrossed and inspired by his vision despite these flaws. Also with his circle of creative compatriots—Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Braque and others. I will read Francoise Gilot’s book Life With Picasso to get her take on their life together as his lover and contemporary artist. From the blurb: “Francoise Gilot paints a compelling portrait of her turbulent life with the temperamental genius that was Picasso.” Oh, and he was a poet too.
So this warm but comfortable night, I share these thoughts, words and paintings:
A few pencil strokes between the o
tumbleweed a rusling breeze
nomads of the night sky
the unturned stone’s lost syllables
in the holy of the artist rides the shotgun
The New Fancy
after an article by Joyce Cohen in The New York Times: March 26, 2017
The Hunt — Self-Employed Artists Find A Home Without Wheels
She a drummer
he plays guitar and acts.
They both sing
“misfit pop” tracks.
The couple rolled into NYC
in an ’82 Volkswagon camper
landing in Bedford-Stuy, Brooklyn,
rough around the edge but not cramper.
As self-employed artists they filmed
“Consumer Comments On Vegan Mayonnaise”
(cannot make this stuff up)
neither a critical success or a campy craze.
Always looking on the bright side,
they searched for an affordable rental:
750 sq. ft. in central Harlem — its windows covered
with paper, certainly to these two, nothing detrimental.
On a clear day
it’s off with the paper for plenty of light,
while the bathroom faucet growls on and off
frightening away critters throughout the night.
The water pressure is so low —
one neighboring wifi network is aptly named,
“NoWaterPressureHere,” thus insuring
urban wit and creativity, above all, take aim.
“It’s better than the wheels,” so they say
and certainly not permanent.
As artists seeking gritty New York,
now all they have to do — is pay the rent.
ag ~ 2017