June 24, 2010
DNA PAINTING, STATE 3
Colour slowly creeping in. Very difficult to keep relating it to what I'm seeing, which is what I'm aiming to do.
June 22, 2010
KINDS OF GENIUS
My cyber-friend Wally (alias crackskullbob, alias Wally Torta etc.) who is a kind of genius - I say kind of because that leaves me room to escape from the authorities in case they declare he's not a full-blown genius - has just posted his drawing of me from a recent photo which I put on Julia Kay's Portrait Party,. He accompanies this terrific sketch with one of his free-associating verbal flights of imagination which are a constant feature of his blog-writing and drawing, like the inspired riffs of jazz musicians. I love this ability to leave behind the prosaic gravity of everyday thinking by playfully following any clue that presents itself - a name, a word, a passer-by, a shadow, a sound - and simply taking off with it, wherever it may lead. I say that this weightlesss space-travelling talent is one of the essential components of genius in any field, and the authorities be damned if they disagree.
June 20, 2010
CHAOS TURNING INTO DNA
I've temporarily titled the painting My DNA. I thought it would be interesting to record its various states because the end result may be quite different to the beginning and it's a way to preserve the process.
Everything in the picture is an edited version of things I see around me, including parts of other artworks. Building the composition from these fragments is selectively random: if a shape catches my eye, I'll put it in but not necessarily in the same place. In this process the painting is acquiring an order that looks nothing like my cluttered studio but that you could still recognise if you walked in there.
Central to the design are the figures of my parents, five times removed from reality: I am painting them from an unfinished painting which was based on an old snapshot and they were, of course, more real than that photograph and now they are gone, though their known and unknown history is still alive in me, consciously and unconsciously, as I sit in messy upstairs studio creating an illusion of orderly space with material paints on material canvas.
In making art what has always intrigued and frustrated me is the conflict between working from life and working from imagination (which is also the conflict between abstraction and representation). I love painting from life, it's incomparably thrilling, but there always comes a point when I feel dominated, subjugated by the real and want it to get out of my way. Then down and down, round and round I go to that old black magic of inner images and concepts and that's exciting too but, oh, there comes a time when I long for the fresh air of face to face contact with the light, the shade, the shape, the space of the three dimensional so-called real world.
As you can see in state 2, I've introduced a still-life of my palette in the foreground and will paint this as realistically as possible. But it leads into planes and perspectives which do not exist in reality and which arise spontaneously out of of some kind of inner logic. So, while I can't claim to be resolving the conflict, at least it's an attempt to do so. Only black and white thus far but colour is coming.
June 14, 2010
UPSTAIRS AND THE UNBEARABLE NECESSITY OF CHAOS
What attracted me to this top floor flat when I first saw it was that it had an upstairs: a small, awkward-shaped, added-on loft, the sloping ceiling high enough in the middle for me to stand upright but not for any taller people. A space obviously unsuitable for large artwork but I took it anyway. Kindly friends helped to lug my heavy etching press up the narrow staircase, I had a sink installed, built racks and shelves for my equipment, and for quite a while the place served me well enough for printmaking and graphics.
Now, almost sixteen years later, it's become less of a studio and more of a chaotic storage dump. Mea culpa, yes, but I also blame the advent of the digital age. The Mac is downstairs: that explains everything, doesn't it? A computer, a graphic tablet and thou, my muse, and we can happily ignore all of that upstairs mess - the paints, the unfinished paintings, the broken frames, the stacks of paper, the smell of solvents, the greasy rags, the bits of wood, the bottles and jars and boxes and tins and tubes of art-stuff which, the less it is used, the more it accumulates in case it will be used at a later date.
But wait. Lately I've been neglecting downstairs (less blogging, less computering in general, did you notice?) and cautiously venturing back upstairs to sit there and think. A few nights ago - late night is usually my decision time - I resolved to start clearing the chaos. But then I noticed that the mess was visually quite intriguing so I decided to start a new large painting instead.
You can see its present stage in the middle of the bottom row of these photos. The painting will incorporate, in as yet unpredictable fashion, fragments of the things I see upstairs, including parts of an old, unfinished painting of my parents when young (middle row). The canvas is almost my height, the ceiling not high enough for an easel and the room too narrow and crowded to allow some other support so I have to work in a variety of crouching positions. But now I need the chaos to stay as it is because it's my current inspiration.
June 1 , 2010
TEN RANDOM QUESTIONS ABOUT LOVE
1. What is the question to which love is the answer?
2. Is love a feeling or an interaction?
3. Can love be felt without a love-object?
4. If it's an interaction, what's the minimum number of participants?
5. Does love of one's self feel the same as love of an other?
6. For love to persist, is a loving response required?
7. Why are love and happiness usually considered to be a pair?
8. Why are love and unhappiness so frequently seen together?
9. Can there be love without joy? Or joy without love?
10. What is this thing called love?