Sunday, August 25, 2013

Concerning the Koi

6" x 6" acrylic on board "The Koi" Click HERE to purchase $100.00

Sitting at the edge
of the pond and

the koi,

I am captured by
their color,
ensnarled in their

I am calmed.

As I sit
in the massive
shopping mall
on the concrete
edge of the koi pond,

I feel frenetic
all about me:

bullying and
stirring the air

Sometimes for gain,
they perform
the unthinkable.

7" x 7" watercolor on 140 lb. NOT paper. Click HERE to purchase $100.00

When koi are released
into the wild,
they lose their
spectacular color within

a few generations

and don the dull cloak
of the carp.

They stir the soil,
making their watery home
muddy and
to everyone else.


Sometimes for gain,
they perform
the unthinkable.

the koi.


Here's a photo for Shadow Shot Sunday:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (And a Healthy Dose of Art Philosophy and a Shadow Shot too!)

6" x 6" acrylic on board.  "A Dog's World" Click here to purchase.  $100.00
In "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee", Seinfeld's online series, which is just about the Best Thing Ever ( I like the episode with Michael Richards), Seinfeld asks Chris Rock who it is that he likes, and Rock responds, "I admire people that have breakdowns.  Because once you have a breakdown, you can clear the slate."

Try as I might, I am incapable of having a breakdown.  I can metaphorically break a leg (see the last post) and put my blog into virtual paralysis, but between down periods and angry spells and  confusion, my mood eventually buoys like a beach ball in water.  And that, I suppose, is a good thing.  Despite the fact that I will never have the admiration of Chris Rock.

But there has been this kind of inadvertant virtual summer sabbatical.  The precipitating event is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me, not by a long shot, but it was indeed traumatic and had elements that have called into question perspectives that I have held for nearly half a century.  I am not the same.  I will not write about it directly.  But my soul has been stirred - even my feelings about art.  And I consider this blog to be a reflection of my soul.

From my moleskine this month.
Also in my moleskine - true, isn't it?
Despite the pause in blogging, I have continued painting.  I touched up an older painting, yet to be posted, and have almost completed another series painting.  I have wrestled with another wolf painting - and the wolf appears to be winning.  But I will continue to try to tame the beast. 

And during this virtual absence I decided to emulate the daily painters.  I painted six small acrylic paintings in quick daily succession.  The first, of a dog, is above.  I will post them all as this blog continues.

But all of that is beside the point.

I was pleased with the results of each of these works.  But in a way, surprisingly, I was dissatisfied as well with each and every one of them.  My springboard for these, as with virtually all I have painted before, has been "every day matters" - my fascination with all I see around me.  But I have begun to seriously question the premise.  I think painting what you see may not be enough.  To show the reality of the everyday I am thinking a painting may need to include what lies behind - the unseen.  And how do you depict that?  That is the question.

I am wondering whether this is what modern painters are attempting to show, an internal sense that there is more to the world than what is being observed.

A Shadow shot for "Shadow Shot Sunday" - it's been a long time..

Periodically there have been times - uplifting, invigorating, happy times - that seemed to be of high velocity, but that have come to a sudden, shocking halt.  A human life can be like that when it is tragically cut short.  In a poem I wrote after my daughter's short life and dramatic death, I likened the experience to a "roof unmoored by hurricane winds."  There are also times that the apparent surface events conceals the reality.  And sometimes we are fooled, and shocked when the reality is revealed.  And how do you depict that? 

My drive to draw and paint is as strong as ever, but what and how I paint in the future may change.  I have outlined for myself elements to include in future works, devices for showing the unseen in the observed, the hidden, the profundity, and I have an idea for paintings in this regard.  Will they work? Again, I don't know.  It is a hard place to be in.  And I may not have the skills to do it.

These are my thoughts for what they are worth.  Again, I don't want to be a talker, I want to do.  I am too much of a talker.  In art, my drive is to do.  But I want to share my thoughts, even with the risk that none of it may ever materialize.

Prologue  - [Sigh, I can't stop] but for me, this is the most interesting part:

After I wrote the above, and then saving the post for a week as a draft - wondering if all of the above was premature to say - I was mulling over painting ideas and noted that one image was awfully like a Magritte.  It made me wonder about the philosophy behind his works (beyond that of his famous painting of the pipe).  Lo and behold, when contrasting his art with the pop artist's "mistake" of painting "the world as it is", he contrasted their attention to the passing moment with his concern for portraying "the feeling for the real, insofar as it is permanent."

This led me to the photographer Duane Michals, who was influenced by Magritte.  You can see much of his work here.  In 1987 he gave a lecture which is here.  (It is funny that in that year, because it was recorded by cassette tape, only half of the talk was recorded because they forgot to turn the tape over!).  Key phrases, for me, from this talk are:

When looking at a picture:  "I don't want to know what I know.  I want to know what I don't know!"

"People are not what they seem."  And he said, and it's true, that one can't even know one's own parents.  [Recent events, for me, have called into question the entire premise of my "At First Glance" series.  Fortunately the series is aptly titled, because the idea of capturing someone's soul is a fool's errand.]

And, significantly:

"The most important things in life are invisible."

And how do you portray that?!