Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Trees, Milton Avery, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, ink wash drawing

Winter Trees
  12" x 16"  Ink Wash on WC Paper

"The object of the painting was a series of relationships of form 
and color in which nature was a binding force."
Milton Avery

"The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything has it's share"
Henri Matisse

It seems to me, considering these two quotes, in order to bring some form or understanding out of the chaotic visual world, to impart some expressive impact, the subject matter has to be translated and composed.  Every painter (or poet for that matter) discovers this to be true at some point or their work can never progress beyond mere imitation - and into the realm of art. A painter must struggle to be absolutely true to nature without being dominated or completely restricted by her.

Lately I have been reading a book that relates first hand stories about Cezanne and his working methods. In a synopsis of many conversations related by Joachim Gasquet, a friend of Cezannes' since childhood (and a poet and writer himself), Cezanne spoke of his approach to the complexity of the visual world.

"Nature is always the same, yet nothing we see endures. Our art must convey a glimmer of her endurance with the elements, the appearance of all her changes. I pick her tonalities, her colors, her nuances,...they become objects, rocks, trees, without my thinking of them. If I get carried away with theory, if I intervene then Bang! All is lost;
 everything goes to hell!"

This is a wonderful explanation of the act of painting but Cezanne was a complex man and sometimes  seems to be contradictory in his writing about painting. My understanding of his statement is that preliminary to the act of painting one must stop and think; "Why have I chosen this subject, this point of view? Where id the visual poetry in this motif? (These are the "glimmer of nature..." Cezanne referred to).  Then the painter must forget the 'thingness' of his subject and begins the painting - trusting that the rocks and trees etc. will appear as if by magic. To be immersed in this process is a terrific affirmation of the wonder of just being in that place at that moment. Enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stormfall, Vincent Van Gogh, Stuart Shils

  oil on panel  20" x 24"

"I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart. I am still far from being what I wish to be, but with God's help I shall succeed."
Vincent Van Gogh

"What Interests me is perceptual joy, and I always see the painting
as equivalent to a love letter to someone I'm crazy about."
Stuart Shils

And every time a new painting begins all one has going is to completely commit to the work at hand, with all one's heart.  Its only in the process that one will discover
 the joy held within, the love letter telling all about the mystery of the visual experience.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Two Sheds, Emily Dickenson

Two Sheds
  oil on panel  9" x 12"

"It's all I have to bring today.

It's all I have to bring today - 
This, and my heart beside - 
This, and my heart, and all the fields - 
And all the meadows wide
Be sure you count, should I forget
Someone the sum could tell - 
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell."
Emily Dickinson

I can't say exactly why I'm drawn to these two sheds, or subjects like them -except that there seems to be on them the echo of lives, of those once here and now gone. Awkward utilitarian monuments to time passing as the saplings and weeds begin the process of taking them over. Anyway, these two simple structures in a late fall afternoon are 'all I have to bring today' - and to my mind, quite enough.