Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Battle of Opposites, "Earth Your Dancing Place", May Swenson, A Celebration and A Holding Onto

November Stump
  oil on panel  8" x 10"

"Take the earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place."

May Swenson
from her poem,  "Earth Your Dancing Place"

Down Hill Stump
  oil on panel  8" x 10"

I cannot say exactly why, but when in doubt of my work or perhaps just when looking for a new path, I return to the woods, to the images of these rotting stumps. Beside the idea that they are central to a cycle of life that continues with no concern or awareness of us, these old stumps offer me much more. They are color and posture and gesture and allow me a precarious place between abstract expression and solid reality. This balancing place is the territory in which I feel I must plant my work's flag - and which can so easily elude me. All I know is this;  I will celebrate the physical stuff paintings are made of  - while I cannot completely let go of where they come from - 
this battle of opposites that fills up my waking days. 

Stump and Rock
  oil on panel  10" x 8"

"Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness in their limbs"

also by May Swenson
from "Earth Your Dancing Place"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Leap of Faith, Attempt What Is Not Certain, Richard Diebenkorn, Fastwater #2

Fast Water #2
  oil on panel  6" x 8"

from 'notes to myself on beginning a painting'
"Attempt what is not certain.
Certainty may or may not come later.
It may then be a valuable delusion."
Richard Diebenkorn

These notes point to a man whose working method is a large part a kind of solving a puzzling labyrinth. The best impetus I have found for getting a painting going, regardless of style or subject, is to embrace the idea of plunging into uncertainty. This does not require throwing over composition or color or any other important skill or approach - instead a willingness to avoid making the same paintings over and over. The most difficult task in painting is ti ignore the safety of similarities and push toward change. I used to tell students that it was the same as jumping off the high dive and trusting there will be water in the pool - a leap of faith.- that is what Diebenkorn was after to get a work started. Perhaps his 'valuable delusion' was simply a way to get out of the labyrinth. Enjoy!

Fast Water #1
  oil on panel   6"x 8"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Seeing With The Heart, Autumn, Loudoun County. de Saint-Exupery, 'In order to make art,...

Autumn, Loudoun County #3
  oil on panel   8" x 10"  

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart 
that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It seems to me that this line from "The Little Prince", r elates to the state of mind one must enter into when painting - a kind of faith that what one feels before a subject is most important. Of course, seeing with the heart requires one to be immersed in the sensory experience of the place in order to feed the heart or spirit. A necessary freedom from the 'things' before the painter coupled with an abandoning of concern for finished product are both necessary.   This all reminds  me of a saying - 'In order to make art one must have the mind of a scientist, the openness of a child, and the the heart of an explorer.' 
Enjoy!   Feel free to leave a comment or an observation.