This year I concentrated on a program of self-directed study. I’ve gone back to basics to focus on drawing, color, and composition. I want my paintings to feel contemporary while relating to the history of painting. I often miss and they end up looking old-timey. I’m asking myself painting questions, of how to imbue my work with meaning and emotion without crossing into illustration.
The era of mass produced reproductions made it possible to consume enormous quantities of visual information while never really landing someplace in particular. Making copies from master works is a way to internalize the art that I love. The bookshelf I had growing up contained Norman Rockwell, Rockwell Kent, and Walt Disney right next to Bruegel, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Cultural wires were crossed.
I am relatively happy with my progress with drawing and color while compositions continue to be static. I focus on issues of pictorial space and explore varying points of view, avoiding flat designs. With the current series of paintings, I’m maintaining the outside dimensions across media, scaling the format to keep the ratios consistent for sketch, gouache, and oil, in order to better understand the spatial opportunities of a particular size.
In his book ‘On Depiction’, Avigdor Arikha writes about the edge of the canvas in relation to objects within pictorial space. His work has an honest spontaneity that is deceptively hard to achieve. It’s no wonder that Manet was criticized for looking artificial compared to the Spanish realists he loved so much. Seeing Morandi’s work two weeks ago rekindled the excitement of 20th century issues: the tension between representation and abstraction being a locus of meaning; the way people look at subjects and painters look at paint; quiet, subtle painting as a respite from the world’s chaos and strife.
I’ll continue to post the good with the bad of what I’m doing. I am taking many small steps.
ABOVE: Still Life, gouache, 7 x 9.25 in, (17.78 x 23.5 cm), 12/10/2008
Still Life, micron pen and ink, 5 x 8.25, (12.7 x 20.95 cm), 12/3/2008
Still Life, oil on paper, 7.5 x 11 in, (19.05 x 27.94 cm), 12/1/2008
Still Life, gouache, 7 x 9.25 in, (17.78 x 23.5 cm), 11/29/2008
Still Life, gouache, 7 x 9.25 in, (17.78 x 23.5 cm), 11/30/2008