But, that is the point. I think you have to go where the work takes you and not worry about style, consistency or how the imagery fits into your body of work. Sometimes you just have to follow your eyes, don't question what you are feeling and do what seems called for in the moment. Like all people that have pets, I think our cat is fascinating. She is difficult, not very friendly and does inexplicable things. Why she sits in the places she does is unknowable, but extremely interesting in a visual sense. The way she fits into the architectural space seems somehow calculated. So, I did a few drawings when I noticed she returned to particular spots repeatedly. They are places where she is partially hidden or shielded. I don't know why, but I respond to how beautiful it is. And, she's kind of funny.
While small adjustments are made in the large painting, work on paper continues at a quick pace. The last couple of months have seen a large number of drawings of plants and flowers. I got charged up when we trimmed our holly bushes in the backyard and I kept a few branches to work from. A number of drawings in charcoal, conte, ink, gouache and other media resulted. They have a physicality and gestural mark-making that is very different from the layering and large areas of color that predominate in the big abstract painting. Then, at Easter, a friend brought us some lilies. I did a number of pictures of the lilies as they opened and then began to decay. These are more linear, but again, gestural and physical. As I've said before, it is important to me to have a range of approaches to handling materials that can be brought to bear on any given subject. I don't want to be locked into a certain stylistic manner. If personal expression is a goal, and it certainly is for me, then I should be able to vary the effects I am able to achieve in pursuit of what is right for the image or right for the feeling I am after.
It would be great if paintings would resolve themselves in a dramatic blast of passionate brushwork. Unfortunately, for me at least, that isn't the way it works. This big painting drags on and on as I make small adjustments trying to get it right. It is certainly close, but is not finished.
It was a good day in the studio yesterday working on the big painting. I sanded down some of the panels to make them fit together better and took the surface off of the stripes in the lower right. The panel had become "blob-y" and the stripes were too big in scale, anyway. I also ended up sanding off the surface of the second blue-green panel. I have to get a sander of my own. They are excellent for taking off layers of paint that has piled up and interferes with the matte surface I am typically seeking. The painting is now back together and hopefully nearing the end.
I first learned about Paula Modersohn-Becker in graduate school. At the time, I was only aware of a couple books about her. One was actually a publication of her letters/journals and it contained no images. It is amazing and should be required reading for anyone interested in the struggle of painters to learn and grow and especially of women artists to be seen as equal to their male counterparts. The other was a nice little book by Gillian Perry that had a limited number of small scale reproductions. Recently I became aware of two new books on Modersohn-Becker, one is the catalog for a show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen and the other a monograph by Diane Radycki. Both are worthwhile and have more and better reproductions than any book I have seen up to this point. The Radycki book is especially good not only for the images, but for the writing. Modersohn-Becker was a great painter and still under-appreciated, in my opinion.
Susie found this drawing in a box of old photographs. It is an "illustration" by my alleged friend Dave Ballard from sometime during our undergrad years at UConn. You can compare it with some of the self portraits in the BFA gallery for the full effect. It is tragically accurate. The guy on the right is Professor John Gregoropoulos with whom I had a mutually ambivalent relationship. Dave nailed him, too. I think Susie told the story of Mr. Gregoropoulos standing in the painting studio saying, "I love the young boys", pausing as everyone in class gasped and adding, "Joseph Beuys". He was rarely so funny, if you ask me.
Dave Ballard has gone on to make his living as an independent illustrator and he is very good. Check him out: http://www.coroflot.com/maceye Cheers, Angus!
I have struggled with the lower right section of this painting for quite a while. The last solution (up to now) involved some lines that echo the curve in the upper left. One small one in particular butted up against the black rectangle in the lower right corner. I drew and re-drew that line over and over, but it didn't work. There was a lot of paint on that little shape and the surface was raised anyway so it was getting out of hand. Finally, I decided to get rid of it altogether and extend the stripes over to the black rectangle. I assumed I had glued foamcore or another layer of plywood to the surface to raise it so I started cutting into the edges with a matte knife and then tried to pry it up. I wasn't making headway fast enough so I got a joint knife and hit it with a hammer to cut deeper and then lifted with the knife. Imagine my surprise when I lifted off a chunk of wood to reveal the wall behind the painting. Uh-oh.
Ah well, nothing a little foamcore and modeling paste can't fix and off we go...
I haven't had a website since the early 90's and I have never had a blog. Thanks to Katie Steed for all of her help in getting this together. For someone who is digitally disabled like me, the challenges would have been insurmountable without help. Also, many thanks to Glenn Kremer for photographing work for me. The quality images are his. Many images are slide transfers as a great deal of my work no longer exists or is unavailable to reshoot.
One thing I plan to do is post works in progress. I am always interested in how the work of other painters develops. Below are some views of a painting I have been working on since September.