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It has been a whopping 5 months since posted in this blog. I did one and went at it through the wrong route so one photo went out too big and bumped the bullets on the right side Hopefully I am re learning the tools to be neater. Anyway that one is just below this one. I am keen on a dialogue with other artists so please feel free to drop a line. Right now I am working (as I have for years) on images from nature. I would love to do a show of these sometime. I am wrestling with the ongoing issue of representational vs. abstraction, or more to the point, how to resolve the melding/interpretation of this problem. I have overlaid shapes that are key design system shape (like a circle, triangle, meander, etc.) and finding shapes (especially in water) that can be brought to the fore.
This is a painting I made after seeing a white arch bridge in Japan. The arch is an extremely important natural design element.
How to resolve the problem of going beyond realism and retaining the imagery that you find interesting? I have dealt with this issue from the beginning. I can do strict abstraction and strict realism but I am not interested in going there. I relate best to the work of artists in between, especially Vincent. After writing and deleting several hand wringing discussions with myself I conclude that the problem is a blessing, I will just keep trying to catch the rabbit and I hope I don’t.
Nature offs a few hints, the shapes in water are fascinating because they keep changing. In photos you can see an amazing system of interwoven shapes and designs. These are visual prompts to exploit and investigate. That word investigate-it is a key word for me, making is the process and result of an on going investigation of visual problems.
After the first cave painting the next guy took a look and added something new, but used something he just saw in the old painting. So it goes. In my opinion the real question is not your style or technique, but the ideas/concepts you are putting out there. It seems to me some of the “fresh, amazing and totally new” stuff is actually gimmick work and carries very little or no concept. The painting I just finished for Indiana’s bicentennial is going to suggest Jasper Johns because of the technique, using stencils. But I am not concerned because I believe the ideas overcome that.
Once, when I was in school I told one of my professors about an idea I had but expressed concern that it would be too obvious that a source was another artist. He said, “Do it anyway, since you are doing it the thing will turn out differently.” He was right. So my free advice is to do it anyway. The big mistake is to not do anything.
JUMP 24″ x 36′ acrylic on canvas
Indianapolis is just one of many U.S. cities that are quite conservative and have been for decades. The skylines of cities like this do not embrace soaring modern architecture. I have always been a fan of Sullivan’s concept: “Form follows function.” One thing that irks me about conservative politics and architecture is the desire to retreat. It is not enough to be stuck in the past, it would be better to go backwards, as if to grow is wrong. Another is the desire to “fix things” by adding non-functional decorative elements. The beauty of nature is in the efficiency of nature. The same is true for things we create to make our live more efficient.
My grandmother had hand crocheted dollies pinned to the arms of her easy chairs. This was an add-on that had no function and she thought it was “pretty.”I took these shots on the expressway in Indianapolis. These add-ons do nothing for function or beauty. They add cost and are, to my mind, unattractive. They are the architectural equivalent of a filibuster.
RECORD WHAT INTERESTS YOU, SORT IT OUT LATER.
It is a good idea to trust your instincts….you are almost always right.
I am interested in a lot of different kinds of images, advertising, reflections in water, old trucks, clouds, demo derby cars…lots of things. I investigate with my eyes which are the window to ideas. I think this is true for most artists, so this is no big revelation. I just thought I would show you a simple example of this I ran across last week. After walking across a large white bridge I noticed the reflection of it in the water. I always have my camera with me and so I took this photo. It was almost like real life imitating a painting ideas I have worked with before..
I then printed out the picture and took it to the studio. Below is a photo of the painting.
I did the blues first and let them dry. Next I painted the reflection. I used acrylic painting markers as well as a fine brush. People who have no idea this is a bridge reflection seem to respond to it as a purely abstract image. I always point out that actually, all “abstraction” comes from concrete reality. I am particularly interested in water shapes right now. The bottom line is the same as the top line….trust yourself, do not worry for a minute what others might say.
Not everything we try is going to work, but we should try everything we wish to make work.