Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Paintings For The G.W. Exhibit

Autumn Fields, Loudoun County
 oil on canvas  52" x 60"

 oil on canvas  52" x 52"

These are two of three paintings that I'll have at the Alumni Exhibit for the George Washington University - being held at their Northern Virginia Campus. If this painting is anything at all, it is the tangible record of simply letting myself enter in to a celebration of being alive in one place at a given moment - a kind of transcendance out of oneself, into the place. Abstract or representational, the best painting allows for this - it is what de Kooning was talking about when he said, "The best we can hope for is to bring some order into ourselves".  Perhaps on my best days this is accomplished.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

River Shoreline
 oil on panel  5” x 9”
“Art is what everything else isn't”.  Theodore Roethke
If one attempts to make a painting without care for the edges of things, without the linear definition of where one thing stops and another starts, one is flirting with disaster. But it is the kind of disaster that appeals to me. It is a disaster born out of losing the explanation of what ‘things’ are, what people expect to make looking at the painting easy. It is a disaster made of uneasiness, unexpectedness, uncertainty - a willingness to make a mess and intuitively react. It is a disaster built on a foundation of trusting the arrival of a viewer who would rather explore on their own in order to discover, rather than have everything prepared and explained for them. In this case both painter and viewer become unseen and unknown partners in an immersion in the true nature of the world, where all matter and energy are in constant flax and we can only struggle for understanding in small increments.
What a wondrous disaster to let go of the preconceived and embrace the unknown!
At the same time, this exuberant detonation of ‘thing-ness’ must be tempered by a disciplined practice of absolutely honest seeing - which can only be found in abandonment to the structure and essence of the visual world filtered through the sensibilities and spirit of the artist. It is only on this razor-blade edge between the chaos of unknowing and disciplined searching that art can begin to emerge. 
This brings to mind this quote,
“The difference between painters and artists is that artists make decisions that get them closer to an emotional response to the subject.”   T. Allen Lawson

Thursday, August 4, 2011

  oil on panel  8" x 11"
Donald Hall, in his marvelous book,"Life Work", asks 80 year old Henry Moore what Moore thought the secret of life is. Moore, at the height of his fame as perhaps the greatest sculptor of the 20th century, had remained a humble man who avoided any interruption to his work that he possibly could. 
At this point I'll quote directly from the book.
'With anyone else the answer would have begun with an ironic laugh, but Henry Moore answered me straight: "the secret to life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life.  And the most important thing is - it must be something you cannot possibly do!".
Wow - something you cannot possibly do as the center of one's waking moments, the focus of all one attempts. Pretty daunting at its face value but what Henry Moore was getting at is really something joyful and enchanting - the idea that happiness or satisfaction for a lifetime is found in the work of making art - of complete engagement in coming to terms with the swirling visual world as one discovers it each day. The impossible task of compressing time and space and light into tangible evidence that might mark the way for someone else to experience that  journey - and thereby to make their own discoveries. So here's a moment on a blistering day that I found under a huge old oak tree that sits just outside my studio. Perhaps just a marker along my time spent in a small way along the path Henry describing.