Method and Learning

Where you will find any comments or references to other artists, artworks, all kinds of source material on both art and execution.

This post is a followup to the Nature of Progression.

A method I use to maximize study is to constantly revise a work in many successive layers. Layer after layer, partially used for depth and partially used for revision. Always attempting to study the changes made and their effect on the feel of a work of art, in search of the many possibilities and the one possibility that fits perfectly.

One can maximize study and learning by working 3 dimensionally within a single finished product, rather than rifle through finished product after product. Both are functional paths for a progression as an artist.

I also try to find interesting ways to reappropriate what I consider failed pieces or pieces in whom there is not enough merit in finish and progression to be worth the time spent (or frustration) putting a full finish on the piece. Perhaps the composition is simply flawed in a way that cannot be revised. Or perhaps the original concept simply bore it’s purpose, without the work having been worked any further. Sometimes, in a method such as mine that relies on progression and artistic growth so much more heavily than a specific aesthetic focus, a work can reach a point where the study of it in the time it is worked is the product of it. Rather than the product being the work itself.

A few times I have found myself leaving a work for some time, only to come back to it and create a finish for it which heads in a totally different direction. Some of my earlier pieces were finished this way, such as Mother and Child. You would be surprised to see what that started out as and evolved into over repeated sessions.

I try to make this work for me. Sometimes I can achieve a far more interesting background or a new composition in what was a work that I ceased from moving in it’s original direction, and painted into it an entirely new direction.

In the most drastic cases, as I have a few works that fit this bill right now, I am inclined to stretch a new piece of canvas over the original one. I have some thin linen which works beautifully for this purpose, and have 4 works currently that are years old and in whom I will never desire to put the time into to finish as they currently are. If need be, years from now, I can restretch the new works and find what’s underneath to perhaps revisit these works. If of course they are still in my possession.

The point being that the work and any obstacles faced within it should never create a situation that harms the artist’s progression. They are the product of the progression ideally, and approaching the studio in such a way where they are exalted above the artist him or herself is a destructive endeavor.

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#6 in a series of random notes and addendum to existing posts.

On the strata of my progression through art, and the reasoning for my choices of subject matter.

If you have had a chance to leaf through my galleries of finished works you will find my works lack a focus on a specific set of subjects, as well as a lack of dedication to a specific pre-defined set of methods. In fact you’ll find a relatively wide array. You may even find a wildly shifting set of works, seemingly unrelated to each-other. You may even equate this to an overall appearance of indecision in who and what I want to be as an artist. And in what exactly I am trying to express through the work. Part of the reason for a shifting subject matter is that I have largely put aside chosen subject matter and direct execution in deference to the importance of an overall structure in what is, in the grand scope of things, an early period of my work.

In reference to the lack of a direct line of subject, attacking a specific subject with intention is a higher level of work, and must be done without other concerns standing in it’s way. And in some ways it is simply not of as great a consequence as many of the other answers I am currently seeking in art. In my approach to art I am willing to open a wider range of possibility and treat the entire process as a longer term development in order to yield a larger range of expressive capacity. My focus also is far more intensely concentrated on the action of becoming an artist and painting with the feeling of the vision, rather than the subject of the vision.

One of the advantages of discovering and pursuing a specific niche, as so many other artists have done, is the capacity to push through the familiarity with materials, color as you need it, form as you need it, and a singular set of methods faster. This is done with the intention of reaching a point where more advanced questions of subject matter, composition, and context of the work and the statement behind it are available to the artist to consider and apply in the work. It makes perfect sense to choose a specific path and focus heavily in one vein if your intention is to heavily work that vein and illuminate strongly within it. A thin line must be walked between knowing and creating too small a thing as an artist and having the work suffer for it, as well as losing the spirit of what is art. Such a linear progression and process in my mind leads the artist and art to a place with great disadvantages. Disadvantages that have inadvertently led to things such as the perceived death of painting, the destruction of the validity of past art, and quite a few other condemning consequences I have discussed heavily in previous posts in this blog. I’ll pass on those disadvantages and take the sacrifice of the devotion to a singular path, and will look to the advantages of that choice.

Following a significantly wider and less specific set of questions in the beginning of my execution of the artist’s career compels me to deal with a much more vast array of possibilities from the very beginning. The expressive underpainting as I have used it (similar to the concepts behind automatism) provides what amounts to a basic sketch for work when the concern of the work is not yet the subject or the context. This is fitting when all work is in a stage where it can all theoretically be considered studies. Everything in art is a study of some kind, and an approach such as mine requires a beginning of entirely study absent of choice but to study everything possible. Choices arise when an ability to desire something of art arises.

When an artist executes a work which has no study within and behind it, there still remains a slight chance that such a work can be a masterpiece of art that displays a part of ourselves in the best way that art can. And along with that chance there is also a certainty that the lack of study signifies a wall which the artist will never pass within that work. Knowing a work entirely, or a method entirely and focusing only on that guarantees no growth. There is also a certainty that the artist him or herself must tear down his or her own work in order to move forward or have it torn down by someone else to do the same. In following this repeated path we enter the same vicious cycle of destruction in order for progression to exist that I have spent so many words expounding on.

When all work is treated as a study of the self in the practice of only being the artist, the progression is ever forward as long as genuine intent from the artist exists. But in order to proceed with such a method the artist faces the great void of art from the very beginning. This is easily related to the birth of a child into a world it sees for the first time, in the skeleton of the theory. If this relation to birth holds truth, then the growth afterward makes a fantastic corollary to the growth and direction an artist can expect to find moving forward. A child does not formulate advanced concepts at an early age, such a conceptualization is for later development. Simple things, equated to art, would be the expectation. Color, material, simple form.

There is no sense in attempting a crappy work of something well beyond your reach and then spending the rest of your artistic life chasing your tail in reconciling that. There is also no sense in having that be the reason to abandon art altogether.

A productive first step is to spend the time necessary being as simple as you are and first discover this – am I an artist? And if so, what do I see? After those two extensive questions are answered enough to crave another question, what follows is likely to be – how do I create what I see? Those three questions in that order form the skeleton of the entire process both on an empirical level and on a local level applied to every step, every question, and every movement forward.

Matthew Adam Love in Our Valley 10% finished

Matthew Adam Love in Our Valley 10% finished

Matthew Adam Love in Our Valley 65% finished

Matthew Adam Love in Our Valley 65% finished

Referring back the automatist underpainting, I have often let that determine my subject through seeing, semi-subconscious. Chosen from a place within myself but that I cannot yet clearly see alive as art. I can feel that place and it’s true form, but I am not yet capable of that direction. Many of my early works only held pursuit for me in color, color relationships, the symbolism of color, the relation between simple forms (such as quite a few of the 2008 gallery works). The inside and out of the materials and what they are truly capable of in their full versatility, meaning, and deconstruction (such as the first few pieces of the deconstructed flesh series). Certain things I have set as being of crucial importance and so I often if not always choose to incorporate them.

This approach is not a process without choice, just without predetermination of future choice. Figural work is pursued as the key to all possible form, and acceptable as the centerpiece of all of my subject matter. Any form can be accomplished by a master of the human figure, so it makes sense to learn the highest art only so that all art underneath it is possible. The figure as a subject is also simply one of the very few things that any living human can understand and relate to. In that it holds the capacity to be universal. Focusing on and searching for what is universal is a stable foundation of choosing what to start with when faced with an endless void in which to find possible choices. Basic understanding of color is necessary for the execution of anything. And so on.. We are looking for choices in the early going that leave open possibility and serve the artist for all of the artist’s future, not just for the immediate career and a search for “the next thing” in art that leads art nowhere of consequence.

The study of form and color is ongoing all throughout from the very beginning to end (you can never understand color and form well enough as an artist), slowly enveloping into composition. Composition is a meaningful execution of the fullness of an image, and meaningful executions are only worthwhile if they can be understood fully as they are executed. Subject is a later concern, once freedom of form is possible from shape and line to composition, and color study and color architecture is clear. Context is a very late concern, as the capacity to put aside struggles with color, composition, subject, and all content and form cannot be standing in the way of a pointed statement. Color, form, composition, materials – these elements exist as pieces of a greater picture. Those elements are a foundation of a capacity to express one’s self. That capacity is marginalized as long as there are unanswered questions on these elements. A mastery must exist in all, in the very least they must be mastered well enough to stand out of the way while true considerations of communication are being tended to in a work.

A recent revelation that the most important part of all painting is having room within a work to be an artist while working. To be able to paint with feeling a work, not just making a work. Everything learned is added and then torn away so that feeling the way through it may return.

My search is for a mastery as an artist, not in a mode of art. My search is for a fluid mastery of being the artist. My search os for the ability to feel a work, not to just work. I am willing to sacrifice a lifetime of childlike color study if necessary (it won’t be, but the point is I must be willing if that is what the path of questions dictates). I must be willing to accept the possibility that I may never achieve a capacity in advanced concerns such as context and subject, in order to uphold the importance of adherence to the method of being an artist over the method of making a type of art. A bias to a type of art is no less than a bias of the seeing of an eye. A bias to a type of art is no less than a bias to one feeling over others. Everyone wants to be happy and fortunate all the time, and always feel safe in that. But that is a lie to life, because it is not so and is not meant to be so. Creating art that is a lie to life is not productive, no matter how great the desire exists to do so. That bias to a single type of art is the artist in a closed box, seeing and feeling and sensing only one thing. The great problem is that an artist is both a single being and a whole life. The whole does not exist this way and never will.

You can see a clear progression in my work, which you would see even moreso if it were possible to place each day of art I have engaged in, laid in a straight line for outside view as the days of my life have been laid out. I trust that lifetime of color study is not necessary, and if you could see that straight line of progression the same way I could you would know to trust that too. One of the reasons for all the transparency I put forth is to help in seeing that. To help in seeing that this new wider path for art functions exceptionally. But I do feel a great urge to break out farther than I have reached so far. In feeling.. That is the one urge I have that I must both foster and resist in this pursuit. I cannot manufacture my desire for tomorrow by destroying what I am today. What I am today is either accepted for what is to be learned from it or I receive nothing greater than it tomorrow.

One very important point of this strata is establishing personal identity before and without art. There is no true artist or true art to establish without personal identity. Personal identity discovered through art can only be valid with the assurance that it is not a flawed or tainted identity. There is no such assurance in this world, inside or outside of the world of art. Such assurances come only from within. In the end even if you are truly an artist you are a human being without a brush in hand born into this world long before your birth into art. An artist must know the void of his or her self entirely before entering any void outside of the self. Whether that void is the absence within art or another pursuit, it does not make a difference. The self comes first, the human self. The art comes next, but only as “art”. Not as a type of art. After the art and self merge enough to consider there to be a balance and cooperation between the two (a balance that is both conscious and fostered through choices and yet flows outward instinctually), choices can then be made with the two functioning together and moving toward an intended direction with both meaning and purpose.

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Continued from the current direction in contemporary art..

So what is the plan? Ive outlined in myriad ways what is wrong with the direction of art, and what is missing from contemporary statement. In that last post I basically chewed it all to bits, how very judgmental of me. To some degree I have already outlined a plan (in previous posts) which I am sure is as maddeningly intangible to you as it has been to me every step of the way. A plan which is, in summation, to follow the path of the self above the art, to seek meaning through art, and to make the art secondary to the self as a ritualistic pursuit enfolded within the process of creation. Focus on the progression and the movement rather than the product. Find what is truly creative, universal, and the essence of art. Let the product follow, and the individual artist lead. When we follow an ideal, a movement, a set of accepted ideals that no longer invite a legitimate pursuit of meaning and no longer hold a predefined purpose, we invite the possibility that they will betray the future. Your path, my path, the path in an individually possessive state, these are the paths that lead the artist forward. And when the artist moves forward then the void can follow.

At this point, just let me point out something that may be helpful. We are no longer looking at the wide view of the entirety of art the same through this change. The entirety of the view of art must change as well. It is not creation that is the focus, it is now that we focus what is within creation, and progression over production reflects this.

Humanity does not create. Humanity lauds, curates, and focuses creation, however what exists in creation is there and has been there before and after humanity. The reversal of the words (“creation as the focus” switched to “the focusing of creation”) is a succinct representation of the reversal that exists within the work and the process. More than anything it is a reversal of personal perspective and a devotion to that newness of sight. When I say humanity does not truly create it references the quote “everything has been done”. It it’s barest simplicity this is quite true. The world is what it is, the creation we live in is what it is. Whatever we do is simply a reorganization of what are puzzle pieces holding the fluidity of the possibility of change in their ordering and understanding, but not their base nature. This corroborates the hunt for newness and rejection that art holds so dear. Humanity, living in a world where contributing an entirely unique human creation is nearly if not truly impossible, is destined to contribute what then? What is the point? Who am I then? And if humanity will not ask for fear of the answer or the lack of a satisfying answer, modern humanity concludes any preoccupation is a good enough one for today to drown out the pain of that unanswered question. That preoccupation is the societal wave, which art has now readily surrendered itself (its self) to.

Let me return to a sentence in the previous paragraph to provide some clarification that I think may be necessary. “When I say humanity does not truly create it references the quote “everything has been done”. It it’s barest simplicity this is quite true.” I would even venture to say not only has everything been done, but that everything was already done long before we arrived. I relate to this idea more thoroughly later in this post.

I wonder aloud if it has occurred to an artist out there that the course of human history has already followed an underlying purpose that simply lies in waiting? That meaning and purpose are present, underneath the lies humanity tells itself, and have been building for millenia only to be revealed when humanity decides to practice acceptance of the life and self that exists?

Searching for purpose, for meaning, or denying this search, has been a long standing occupation of humanity. Despite the admonitions of fine art as we know it today in the heart of postmodernism, humanity is still deeply enveloped within the search for meaning and purpose, even through an adamant denial of it. An adamant denial is a sign of deep involvement, just the rejection of it. Humanity may be hiding this to varying degrees for every individual and group, but nonetheless it goes on flowing as strong as ever. This is the true reason church is the church we know today, the reason science has so many devotees. The reason any endeavor finds eager and willing accomplices. The more comforting and wide-ranging the endeavor, the more devotees. The comforting nature and scope of that endeavor is directly related to the breadth of the painful question it can soothe. The search for meaning and purpose is the reason so many things find devotees.

I would invite the world, (if I could, and in tangible ways I cannot. I am essentially nobody from nowhere, sitting in a bubble whilst I play out this internal theater) to take a long hard look at this notion. That the search for meaning within humanity over the course of the entire history of human consciousness has been nothing more than a series of comical stumbles that has produced and created nothing outward of significance that was not already there. The search for meaning in many ways is not a search insofar as it is an illumination of a void that we entered into upon birth. And a growing void in art, the closer we move toward total exposure to what the world has to offer. And at the same time move toward a total and complete inability to do anything about it.

Birth, as individuals and as a collective conscious force in life. All the buildings in the world, all the works and wonders, all the societal structures, all the accepted truths, the reformation, the enlightenment, the modern age, and the whole of the life staged by man has served to truly create nothing substantial and lasting in the realm of the truth within individual meaning and purpose. All of this amounts to nothing when one asks of the self “who, what, where, why am I?”. It has created nothing elementally necessary to life and we have seen no real difference in the core experience of life from the world of today all the way back to the world of the caveman. Don’t ask how I know what cavemen lived like. It’s evident. The sun, the stars, the world of nature, and the moments in which humanity sees itself and wonders. That is all as it has ever been, for any living person across all time. Nor do I believe it will ever change. The only thing that can truly change is how we see the world and ourselves. We can add or subtract our sight and the possibility of certain basic things such as a state of wonder, (inner) peace, (inner) joy, satisfaction.

We have curated our seeing (or lack) of meaning, we have not engineered the nature or existence of what meaning is. All of the constructive effort within history has yielded no crop of definitive purpose with which to live each day. Philosophy, psychology, sociology, at best they have revealed in expression the truths that fall evident to any given human being in the course of a life, whether they are felt without words in a moment or they are expressed. This is what postmodernism could very well be saying, that human is powerless to create anew so there is no meaning. While that powerlessness within man may be entirely true as a feeling of self awareness (or lack thereof), it does not automatically deface meaning altogether of it’s own accord. That is the mistake of postmodernism if that is it’s purpose, so very arrogant. Meaning does not cease no matter who says so. But as all mistakes in history, they exist in order to be replaced by answers and ideally, forward movement beyond the error (and often as a direct result of learning and discovering through the exploration of that error). What the failed search for meaning discounts is an objective possibility of truth. It’s only objectivity can be personal, and is truly determined by choice. This proposes that meaning can be absolute, for one individual and through that individual, shared. And that such meaning is and can be determined by choice of which only that individual can be certain. It proposes there is an inner certainty. And that it can be achieved through a path of successful choices, that success to be determined by acceptance of what cannot be denied or changed, and rejection of what stands in the way painful or not.

Despairing the lack of meaning and true form that a human can him or herself create (which is lightly referenced in the power of the paint over the representation, in abstract expressionism), despairing the purposelessness of originality (as Koons would best represent it) or even more-so the complete impossibility of it, defacing the past as a tainted journey (as Jake and Dinos Chapman may represent it with their defacement of Goya, as does the deconstructive nature of the history of art overall) due to the tainted product of the present, these examples are quite valid in their assertions regarding the current state of art and humanity. The Chapman brothers are generally accepted to have defaced Goya in order to destroy what captures their obsession (they destroy what possesses them), but other inferences such as the above one can be made. The meaninglessness of postmodernism does abound for humanity, currently. Maybe or maybe not for the individual (we all see and search meaning whether we divulge this to anyone, even ourselves), but certainly for the world society. It exists as a burning question in it’s wide rejection, but is doused by the failure to achieve any lasting satisfaction of it.

All perspectives, all throughout the past are valid for their time and place, and needed for their purpose. The beautiful thing about it all is that if the world finds an answer not to the general liking, no matter how prevalent it rules sociologically at any time, it will change in another time. It will be torn down and replaced. What the drive is does not really carry importance. Boredom, unrest, or one upping. Or at it’s best and deepest stated as a burning desire for meaning and to destroy whatever has not given that meaning. (To destroy whatever does not give peace of self, and then destroy the father and mother for the pain of having the self). Wherever that drive surges from, the world will find a way to change what doesn’t quite fit. We’ll pick, we’ll prod, we’ll poke, until the flaws are found and someone somewhere finds a way to undo what is done, and to redo something that looks better (not that it is better). Following this line, what looks better is only better looking because it is new.

Today is not an empty end unto itself, postmodernism and the course of art history will say so. And in putting forth that appearance, today would be sorely incorrect. But this is a fantastic diorama of the state of the human impatience. If the answer cannot be found by now, are we now to profess there cannot be one? Not quite true, not at all. It can only be given from the source. The true individual self and common life, the source is so obviously the very place that seeks it. How can you be so utterly foolish as to never look in the one place it will most likely be? Not by accident, that’s for sure. For fear of discovery, not for ignorance.

The current art brings about nothing in terms of an answer to a question that still exists. For we still seek the answers, do we not? Quitting a search out of a desperate futility does not erase what may exist in answers. There is no end if we still search, no matter how strongly it is declared by how many souls that reject search. And even if the search is widely abandoned, it must be abandoned by every living soul, and then entirely extinguished as a flicker of desire, in order to truly cease. Those statements of the absence of meaning, however true, lack the satisfaction of a response. They serve only to make honest the despair that still abounds. How do we answer that?

I would say that if you want a reversal of the same repetition of the same answer (or non-answer) then begin to look wherever you have not been looking. I started this passage with a statement on the possibility that humanity has been existing in a world all along that holds purpose and meaning that has existed the entire time. Not waiting to be invented by man (who cannot truly create which renders this invention an impossibility), but rather just accepted as it stands and where it has stood all along. It is the lack of simple acceptance in the world and of the nature of the world as it already is, as time has passed by, that has eluded society, humanity, and “progress”. The destruction of the obstacle is what has eluded the human, done constructively. Not done with the motivation of finding flaws, or rejection, or to take a throne for the self. But the true destruction of a true obstacle that stands in the way of receiving life, only because the individual can see the obstacle as the obstacle that it is and act without prejudice. How can it take a world of so many people over so many generations so long to understand the proper use of self awareness to be for it’s own sake?

There already is meaning, simply waiting to be uncovered, rather than created. And uncovering this meaning necessitates a process in which humanity accepts not being placed in position to create but rather to allow. To pursue an existing path rather than forge one. Not to rule the self or the world, but to serve the self and the world a. To serve the world a helping of what it is, not a personal vision of what it should, could, or would be. To take in the offering of life as it has stood and waited for all time past.

A true progression is a series of choices, as choice is very much within the capacity of humanity. What exists, exists. In one form or another, nothing is truly unique or disconnected. The only thing that we can create is possibilities for the human experience, through choices and the ways in which they alter and assist in determining a path through time. This living work is the clearing of vision in order to receive the sight of life as it unfolds, rather than the creation of sight as so many artists, movements, and modes of change within history have so vehemently (and to a purist, both blasphemously and hypocritically) claimed unto themselves. In hopes of refuting that, I will say that in no time of history has any artist really created anything but their own ability to see what they could not see before (but which was there to be seen). And that no human seeking accomplishment for the self alone has created anything new, ever.

Newness has never existed. It has only been claimed and theorized upon as the presentation of individually defined newnesses at points, without understanding it’s true nature. The true nature of anything cannot be understood without an understanding of the true nature of the self. On the deepest level newness itself is only a theoretical concept. And that theoretical concept derives from the experiencing of receiving to sight what has been unseen, hence it is new to the individual who perceives it for the first time.

What has been done is merely a pathway of choices that have served to focus something unseen (if speaking of visual art) and return it as something seen. This history within life has been an unfolding of consciousness. And the final step of unfolding that consciousness, with great humor, is the realization that it has been nothing more than that all that time. With that conscious understanding anything can be understood and become new.

The new direction is an acceptance of an existing conscious state, step by step from a new beginning. The new beginning being the realization that the unfolding consciousness is the only meaning within life to seek, which has been there, quietly occurring (like a cliche comfortable pair of slippers and a pipe in front of the fire when you get home from work) at every moment. That unfolding of consciousness in all it’s complexity is best summed up by one word. Living. If God were present, or an all knowing computer (or whatever form you would choose for the giver of any answer to any question), the answer to the question of why life is would be for living.

This is the whole of the meat and potatoes of what I do. There is no plan but the plan to live according to how my self would crave to do so. There is no new. I know my desires at their core and within their full range and put aside their specificity. I maintain my drive above my direction I am being driven towards. There is meaning, and purpose, but the purpose is only to be with meaning. And the meaning is to seek purpose. I place the symbol far above the object in terms of importance, as it is in truth (this is a much broader statement in it’s meaning than I am fleshing out here, and I will do so later). The singularities such as events, moments, specific meanings, specific purposes, strictly defined accomplishments, these things are present but in no way stand alone above the bigger picture or above each other. They stand where each belongs. If it is a big moment, it looms larger than smaller moments. If it is a powerful purpose, it holds power above a lesser purpose. All things specific determine their place through choices. And none of those things stand above the self or the whole.

This theory will never go so far as to claim the perfection of a singularity (what a niche, theory, and direction really attempt to do). The perfection of a singularity is the attempted exaltation of a human, not humanity. There is no lasting perfection of a singularity for humanity, as no singularity exists above time and the processes of life beyond personal control. Even the individual is not a true singularity, because the individual does not exist without life. And life does not exist for the individual.

Time casts it’s net over the entire world, and will not hold still for one individual or any product of that individual. This idea is to accept of the course of existence and your natural place within it, exerting the choice of which you are capable, and ignoring the glory of the (im)possibility of original creation. The glory of the possibility of original creation is not a glory and never was, only a purported possibility. It will never be more than a theorized possibility, and will never be real and lasting. Why? Because it isn’t real and isn’t lasting. It couldn’t be simpler. Stand back and look at this – what exists exists because it exists. What does not does not because it does not. It is crucial to also ignore the despair of acknowledging the impossibility of original creation and responding to it with the eradication of meaning entirely. I believe any individual will find no despair in that concept, so long as they seek their own rightful place in the order of the world and their life, and the confluence of the two.

Within the postmodernist landscape we see the previous course that led to all of these statements, proudly displayed. From Warhol’s absurdity of production (canned art), a statement on the modern age that had been waiting in the weeds for centuries in order to be spoken clearly. This is the driven knife into the heart of the lie art had been an unknowing participant in for a long era. That lie being the glories of the modern age and their professed creation of modern man.

Andy Warhol green coca cola bottles

As a natural opponent of that statement in painting, we have the abstract expressionists and their depth of meaning and religious unformed images. If the truth becomes something which cannot be accepted, create nothing to oppose it. It is a valid nothing as an answer to production, but not an end. Has art (and painting) really progressed beyond this tug of war in the last 50 years? Everything in between representation going back hundreds of years, forward to abstract expressionism being the peak of non-representation is one or the other, part of the construction of technique or the deconstruction of form. Form, for the purpose of this discussion, is the beginning. And formlessness proved to be an insurmountable end for painting to bear.

barnett newman yellow painting

This deifes culture and production by defying the representational image altogether. Grasping onto meaning and holding tightly for dear life in the absence of recognizable form, making the paint itself the new golden calf. A progression from the pervasive influence religion and the modern idea revolution held within art. In deconstruction we have seen that run it’s course. Technical study and skill, modern age development deconstructed the purpose of the artist. Without self (the self).

12th century Christ icon

Saint Barbara Greek 12th century icon

Religious subject matter unraveling to simply an unformed depth of feeling deconstructed the meaning, the same exact level of religious reverence, without the meaning of the individual. Without form (the void). The human has been reduced to but a line, no form and no life, but time moves forward in a line nonetheless as in the Barnett Newman painting above. Time is all that is left and life continues. Without form or meaning.

As a side note, has it occurred to an artist at any point that having two concurrent modes of art existing separately is a mistake of union? You have the self and it’s representation, and you have the void and it’s representation. Can someone show me when art unified them? You’d think before we give up and dive on into meaninglessness and declare the deconstruction complete and extinguished, there would be at least a vague attempt at that union. It makes me think that the path of art has not been a deconstruction at all. It speaks more of a destruction, but whose?

As these dead ended directions faded so does the possibility of originality, as it becomes evident everything has indeed been done. If anything were ever done? When you destroy everything as a matter of a daily principle of a hunger for newness (a guise for fear of self) for thousands of years, then it’s safe to assume at some point everything will be done when there’s no rubble left to reduce further. Art has entered the age of particulates. Works so specific and so thoroughly distilled that they are as atoms to the human conscious experience. The problem in this metaphor is that while particulates may very well be the building blocks of a physical existence, they are imperceptible and inconsequential to a philosophical and meaningful existence. Large questions rule those arenas, and particulates mean nothing. Between represented images and everything possible outside of representation, at that point what is left for a world of art that has had it’s beginnings in deconstruction and thus has reduced itself to a cumulative near zero as a result?

Koons and related artists follow with reference to the trite nature of searching for originality in kitsch, and essentially, pop crap. I’m not as much interested in the reference that pop is crap, I mean the work focuses on popular crap. It’s normal to reference in art what abounds, and pop does abound. It is not normal to do so for a failure to be capable of producing an answer from within after the world of answers has left you high and dry, or has left entirely.

Jeff Koons Pop Kitsch

Commonplace, everyday, pointless. Commercial. Kitsch. This thrives on to some degree with Hirst, in replacing the artist with the salesman and the art with the actual sale as the art. Koons is all the salesman he is, but if you thought Kitsch had little substance then meet Hirst. His work is entirely the sale of the work, and in that is highly valid. In everything else art might have been, it is not. How deeply can art delve into self reference and commentary on what is evident and previously existent in life before it exists for nothing at all?

Damien Hirst Works

Concurrently with abstract expressionism, minimalism abandons the representational image entirely beyond the step taken by the abstract expressionists, the 2 dimensional surface, and paint/color entirely.

Carl Andre Iron

Lowbrow art has it’s seed at this point as well, beginning with an underground culture attempting to run in reverse to the mainstream. Lowbrow develops into and out of street culture, through a representational perspective but without fine art acceptance or the representation of what fine art has held previously. It declares “I am”, and “You are wrong” to the disappearance of representation and the “everything has been done” mantras. It is devoid of meaning beyond the individual exercise, and essentially can be seen as a widespread contest between artists in proof of technical skill. It says “you are an artist if you can prove your chops” and “art exists if we make it”. Not quite. Graffiti as a vein of lowbrow says the same general thing in a boiled down state that is easy to recognize.

Minimalism and related minor movements develop into a mainstream vein of art where the simplicity and non representational nature of it makes it a perfect option for public and corporate art. It holds no questions, it’s just there, and it is clean. Clean of meaning, clean of statement. Money buys it, money moves it, and it stirs nothing which is what it is supposed to do, like so much elevator music for the eyes or radio stations playing while you are on hold on the phone. The fact that it stirs nothing has made it a perfect “escort” so to speak, for the non confrontational and non stated perspective of those whose interest it is to make no waves, just money. It’s the comfort of a clean nothing, and the expected presence of finery.

Along the way minor movements develop that call for a return to past movements, that refresh styles and ways of seeing and creating that call to the past. However they lack the context of history and so became a banal version of something that once was. Valid to some degree, but never able to represent art as a whole nor forward movement within the world of art. They represent a yearning for a day when we create a revisionist history and see the glory art held in a mirror to a imagined past that never truly existed. Regret, remorse, reminiscence, and most of all, a revisionist memory of the picture of those moments. And besides, that is nothing new. Neo-whatevers have been around as long as pharoahs have been saying they wanted neo-whatever places to rule and summarily drop dead in. The borrowing of past aesthetic is not a new invention. But it is a convenient one for any generation to pass the time between more entertaining changes.

Where does it go from here? It can go the way of society, with the endless repackaging of old ideas in order to make them appear new and designed to continue life support endlessly. Time itself as it relates to consumption and interest continues to be propped up well beyond it’s date of death. It can go that way, as it has before. Prepare to see many more recalls to refitting old styles, in retro waves returning to us again and again. And on and on, ad nauseum as far as the other ways it can go. In that direction doesn’t it really continue to go nowhere?

More fitting within this blog is to ask, where can I go?

One possible answer is to deface and curse meaning itself at the frustration building with it, but you know I’m not here to do that. This is what we see a bit of in the Chapman brothers, which is merely the only works of defacement I am aware of. For certain there have been countless others I have not studied, nor will I. Painting itself, defaced from Warhol to now, in many ways faces it’s attempted destruction because artists are truly frustrated at it’s continuation without a purpose and meaning.

What am I here to do?

I will provide a couple small examples of my answer to that, but I have already pointed out the importance of following the overall view rather the specifics. So it serves to reason the theory and view should be outlined before and well above the examples.

I am the self, everything else is the void. I will utilize choice as a tool of the self, within myself and within the opportunities I am able to illuminate within the void. The rest is up to you and what every other influence within my life will allow. It is my responsibility to allow what arrives. And my method to align my self entirely with a path of illumination. Living the method is the only way to arrive at the self. And living the method serves at the same time to arrive at the illumination of the possibilities of the void.

There is an idea I had sketched up some time ago. Here is a shot of the sketch.

Cubist (ish) man sketch

Concept sketch

And a second sketch of the same basic idea.

cubist (ish) man sketch 2

Concept sketch 2

The figure is intended to be sporting a face and figure refracted and fractured in a Cubist(ish) fashion. The clothes will more than likely take on a loose representational and sweeping style, romantic in their execution, perhaps soft and cold. The shoes, perhaps a direct reference to Van Gogh’s shoes. There are no shoes that hold more daily truth and capture the viewer so strongly with their humanity more than Van Gogh’s. The background itself, perhaps it is repetitive and washed out of color. The bricks, a mind numbing pattern of pieces smaller than they would be through direct representation. To both disappear into the background and entrance the viewer. We are not discussing a work that is cohesive in it’s execution and a signal of the “signature” of the artist. We are discussing the organization of work in which the elements speak together to the story it is telling and what the story requires to be told. We are talking about a system of visual narrative.

The face is fractured, one eye looking up to the sun searching for meaning, while the other looks to the floor searching for the self and the source of the sorrow. Two forms of prayer, one of humility and one of question. How can you have a figure looking both up and down for the self and the direction? Many ways I am sure, but at this point I feel it is very necessary for me to execute works in a way where the reasoning is as evident as possible. Cubism’s aesthetic fits with the discordant lost nature of the figure and of the possibilities of an unreal form it allows. The use of many perspectives at once creates a fractal aesthetic, and can allow certain possibilities. Forget the real beginnings of cubism at this point set in the painting of differing perspectives at once. It becomes (cubism) whatever we need it to be to help us speak. It’s context is lost in this, but it’s context is long gone anyway. Time moves on. This doesn’t mean there is nothing left for that art but the buying and selling of it. Those differing perspectives need not be confined to the form only, they can make statements on the differing perspectives life introduces into the human life.

The clothing. A romantic sweeping flowing tattered gown of a broken life. Cliche maybe, but this is just an example. It could be done a million other ways in reality. The shoes fall in line with the clothes, but in the heavier style. They weigh the heaviest of all, binding humanity to the earth upon which we reside. Trudging heavy footsteps in a failed life. Bound to the life we are faced with, and forced to choose or to not exist. The background repeated pattern may as well be any place, in time or on earth. It stands apart from no other time, with it’s lack of color, and stands apart from no other place with its repetition of form. And the bottle points to the meaning well above our understanding, and our struggle with that. The stairs are right above our heads, but on our heads and out of reach at the same time.

The point is that every choice of composition and execution of form, all elements are chosen individually and placed within the image according to their meaning far above any other concerns. My work is a stratification of the past, present, and future. A card catalog if you will that points to anything and everything as possibilities for the utilization beneath an umbrella of meaning and symbol. You may think a work about sorrow or the unsuccessful search for the self which makes a homeless individual the central focus is trite, but I would just respond by saying it is fitting, trite or cliche as it may be. Fitting is what we are looking for in every way, rather than the glorification of anything we can find that hasn’t fit yet (originality).

Quite a bit of art is trite. Much art is obvious when it is executed, and what captures us about it is the capacity of a person to see it and make it a reality, where we could not. But great art, truly great art is not trite, it is fundamentally internal. Real. Universal. Makes no statement other than a confluence of meaning, expressed visually and aesthetically in a way that can be stated in no other way. It is a search for the intangible qualities (and the finding of) that make great art. I will answer why to make great art in a later post. It is still a valid question after all of this theory. Why even make great art?

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Filippo Brunelleschi linear perspective

(cont. from Art history of rejection and trade)

The mistake of that assumed necessity of rejection and the destruction held within it is both varied and vast.

Tradition contains many crucial elements for the health of art. Training, the possibility of a stable place for the artist and the value of the artist in society, the support of the arts, etc. That will not be the focus of this post however. The greater focus of the post is the possibility of the development of art through a mode of acceptance rather than rejection. The health of art as a whole is an outward concept, we are here to consider the health and path of the artist and the inward concepts.

You will see the empirical view and connection of all things at work here in this theory. That aforementioned mode of acceptance should apply very literally to past artists, past methods, past styles, and in general learning and growing from history rather than acting as if a history cannot exist for the future to find it’s way. The all encompassing nature of this goes as far outward as the world society’s view of art, to as far inward as the artistic creative process within the artist.

A forced training path, or even a path outlined by another individual is a mode of rejection. (This is in opposition to my declared support of tradition above, so please try to maintain a sense that for argument’s sake I argue against linear training. And that argument is not a vehement rejection of it, only a placement of a concept within an argument for the purpose of an illuminating conclusion.) And that training, and education in art relies on great degrees of study, repetition, and the search for a unique view. A direct search. The prescription of an individual to a standard mode of learning is by nature a rejection. The individual by nature is not a standard, a standard crosses beyond individuality into classification and ease through standardization ( a fundamentally production-based idea). Standards to fit to and move to the pace of offer a rejection of the individual possibilities of a unique artist’s mind and eye. And a rejection of the desires of the self in it’s own natural development. The human self has a unique hunger, moment to moment, day to day, year to year. Standardization, even for benefit, can thwart that hunger and ultimately extinguish it and leave a quiet absent unformed pang in it’s place. That pang of deep soulful hunger shadowed heavily by a cloud-bank of production, conformity, standards, and the forward processing of art as the world accepts it. Not art as the world or the self truly desires it.

The mistake in this particular case is not the training, the methods, the repetition, or the search for uniqueness. It is the utilization of a standard path of development. A standard path of development is a rejection of individuality, and therein lies any hope of an artist’s true uniqueness. It’s no coincidence the modern age has brought about these questions. They very closely mirror the advancement of the tool for repetitive standards and processes, from the end of the middle ages and the ensuing reformation and development of modern man, to the acceleration of the modern age in the last 2 centuries. The more an assembly line approach is accepted for production, the more that production approach invades art through through humanity’s adherence to and dependence on it.

But since the lost vision of the artist is solely within the artist, whether influenced or not from the outside, this approach cannot succeed. The success of this approach can be widely and easily argued based on vantage point. Success to me means art does not end up in a pointless void, we’ll have to leave that at a personal opinion based on common sense.

Being an interconnected web as much as life itself is the same, this argument ties itself together. You’ll find in history that the greatest successes of artists do in fact come through a rejection of what has come before them (is this a contradiction?). However, that rejection was only made necessary by a forced standard of developmental process toward a direction that required individual rejecting. And so they did, and so they were able to move forward in art, laying waste to the conventions they were taught. Bear in mind I am going specifically out of my way to point to the “greatest successes”, and I want to make clear my definition of that would be strict. Accepted and upheld glories are not necessarily the greatest successes.

Those pioneers were required to partially or entirely destroy what had come before them in order to wipe clean the scar of it put upon them in development. There’s two specific problems I see here. First, that rejection was and is a hypocrisy of itself. The foundation of a pioneering artist is almost always based in and founded on the the traditions that came before. How can you claim newness if you’ve already created it from the seed of the labors of those you seek to destroy with that very newness? And with that rejection, the artist made a vision of what has increasingly constituted an examined piece of art and not a whole. As a metaphor, knowing a human as you dissect the physical body for scientific research does not create life. It only creates an understanding of working parts and their function, without any relation to their meaning, purpose, or true living action.

To cut a body to pieces after death does not create life, so why should it be a mystery postmodernism has left the void it has? The dissection is complete, and the body is a tattered slice of Swiss cheese. The dissection is the deconstruction of art over the past 6 centuries into studied pieces coupled with rejection on top of rejection. The body is art as a whole and it’s direction in the world. And that body is just as much the spirit of the artist as it stands today. The tattered slice of Swiss cheese is the result of rejection upon rejection. And the void is the absence of life after the dissection is completed, the details are learned, and what’s left can never be put back together to represent the life it once embodied.

Call this theory a reconstruction, a reformation or a resurrection if you will. Any of the terms can be stretched to fit a metaphor for a new process for art that is based on the concept of acceptance.

Delving a bit deeper into the details of what the past 500 years meant as far as the method of art itself, and even more-so the past 150 years or so, let’s examine the corpse with the intention of understanding the life it held.

From the very beginning, it was a process of both destruction and rejection which we have covered. The rejection leads to embracing a new vision, but essentially a vision held within a detail, a piece, a microcosm of the whole. Impressionism for example, is essentially one element of all previous painting and not a whole. The layering, depth, and realistic creation it rejected was reduced to an impression of said structure. A rejection indeed of the formality of fine art, but a rejection that rejects itself. It is the same realism, only altered or stylized, romanticized, seen in a new way no doubt, but a continuation on the same basic path of painting. Just without a handful of formal elements. A new vision, but incomplete from one perspective, in comparison to what it replaced. This rejection also renders realism incomplete as it lacks the possibility of style, of expressive imagination. It lacks what impressionism has, and impressionism lacks some of the things the former realist work had.

On a different level, realism and impressionism lack something much more important. Realism lacked the perspective and opportunity to see realism and have it enhance itself. It is art before exploration, and therefore incomplete. Impressionism comes off of the partial deconstruction of realism, and yet it serves as a partial rejection and unraveling of realist work. It lacks the perspective of it’s own place in the progression of art as well. Neither knew what they were having been condemned in a way to the time and place in which they existed, and neither were complete in their understanding without each-other, and all that later followed for art.

It enhances the world of art and yet it damages both, and instead of following the birth and development of impressionism with a marriage of the past and present, the future continues on to bull it’s way into the heart of all of them. What follows is post-impressionism, to render death to both, and on and on at an exponentially increasing pace of tear down, rebuild, and move on. (you would be amazed to discover how many times the word “rejection” is used in description of art movements) The only acceptance along the way insofar as new movements was in fact rejections of new movements entirely in order to hide in the comforts of traditional modes of art, such as the pre-raphaelites. These movements can scarcely be identified as original in retrospect. Maybe redeveloped traditional modes with a fresh new look, but a rejection of the flowing current nonetheless. It is an indication of the desire for not leaving behind was is being torn down, but only an indication and not a lasting success. There is a vast difference between having an inkling of something, and having an understanding of something. Nothing has been truly married, the whole way through the history of art. At no point has it been assumed that, for example, realists could use the methods and elements of impressionism to learn from and expand their creative palette. Or the fauvists could use realism to expand theirs, as opposed to bulling it out of the way. Or the abstract expressionists could use impressionism. And most hypocritical of all, almost all artists within these movements did so regardless, while stating the opposite in order to rationalize the newness of their work.

I do not declare to be the most studious person on earth, so disregard those assumptions and we’ll say for the sake of argument that all of the preceding movements and artists understood their connection to the past and embraced it. Still, what we seek is not to be found. Only now at a vantage point where all of these movements sit waiting in history, can the rejection or marriage between two successive movements be reversed. Impressionists could only reject or accept realists, having been preceded by them. Fauvists could only accept or reject what had come before them. An artist now could make any acceptance or rejection between any part of history, in any order.  That alone is enough to provoke a deep discussion of possibility, and that alone can provoke movement in art. The real question is whether or not the artist can marry a real future with the past, and that is a discussion on an entirely different path.

Having learned from the masters of all these schools, and having based the foundation of their work within all of the modes they rejected so vehemently, I understand past artists having difficulty with accepting the new and a marriage of the old. If impressionist works were partially realist or accepted it, an artist could risk any number of difficulties. Ambiguity of their message, alienation amongst previous peers, the inability to boldly proclaim newness should they accept the “fault” of dependence on the work of those who came before them. It can in many ways be termed a weakness of that artist to incorporate and rely on old ways in what was glorified as new work. It seems the pursuit of personal glory, or the failure to risk has frequently clouded the present and future of art.

Now certainly every movement added a new direction for artists to pursue as far as expression, and that was and is absolutely necessary, and entirely valid. Without that opening toward new expression a historical deconstruction could not take place and therefore a reconstruction could not follow. I am not a rigid traditionalist who believes the the past 500 years of the development of art are no more than an error. That’s not the case at all. I simply believe to accept the death of painting as everything having been done is to be blunt, comical. The truth that I accept is quite the opposite. After the dissection of a human, shall we declare the death of all humanity? That makes as much sense.

I read something recently that illuminated a very important point for me. It is written that Brunelleschi (accepted founder of perspective in painting, of course around the time of the reformation and the emergence of the concept of modernity, modern oil painting, etc.) took up painting in order to further study the geometry of his perspective. There’s an important voice to that reality. The entire path of painting from that point on, which he immensely influenced, was started from a place that had absolutely nothing to do with the purpose and meaning of painting itself. Development followed from that, but the entire path of that development was skewed on that path. If even the slightest bit, it is still unpure. The idea of great art as art that finds something uniquely wrong with the art that preceded it sprung from that seed. From it’s outset on this particular path, painting is made to rationalize it’s existence as more than a secondary pursuit that exists for the greater good of other things – the geometry came first in his pursuit of painting, not the artist and brush. I believe such a point of origin has altered any possible destination sourced from that origin.

How do we recreate art with a true path? Thankfully, that seed has sprouted, grown, and sent itself into the postmodern era where meaning has headed straight into oblivion. When nothingness exists in full it is the perfect time to create a complete newness. The trick is to abandon the newness so highly sought after as well, and create something both new and entirely familiar at the same time.

My intention is to start with the idea of a fully accomplished deconstruction, to build a firmament of understanding. Build from there. If it takes one lifetime to take one real step in a true future of art, at least it’s a real step. A true forward step, not a backward step. One forward step is worth 100 backwards ones.

I cannot support the supposed validity of beginning with building a whole, then applying deconstruction to it. At that point you are tearing pieces of the whole to find your personal piece. That is how killing works. That is no different than the path of the last 500 years of art, and while it has been at times a glorious 500 years, where is art now for it? That is metaphorically like being born as an adult, then killing yourself so you may know what you are made of. I’m not one to judge, but that seems overtly wrong to me when I apply one following personal truth to the situation. I believe all life follows life, that life is and should be a metaphor for life, and that life is a reflection across itself. On a singular individual level, on a societal level, on an empirical level – life is and should be the same, to make sense, to foster order. If a metaphor for what exists reveals itself to be senseless, there is great possibility that reality it describes is senseless as well.

This leads in to my method. Begin work, first and foremost, with a foundation of personal identity. One self in this world cannot move forward without that self, this is pure logic. This, for me, was not accomplished with art even remotely placed in my mind. If you do not have a conscious personal identity, expect the subconscious possibility of pursuing it through your art and to get sucked back into the deconstruction process while you try to find the pieces of your self. My first work speaks directly to that. It was painted not for practice, not for study, not for art at all. It was painted out of desperate need. It’s not a work of art as the work I present as an artist, and it stands alone as a piece of the identity I am referring to. I think it is important to have that be my first work and to be a stand alone. It came before art arrived in my life, it reveals identity as standing above art. It reveals the importance of being over the importance of doing, understanding action before enacting action.

The works that followed are a progression always moving forward to the present day and beyond. Building upon themselves, as my creativity, ideas, imagination, and study all move together in bits, forward from zero. It began with studies, simple studies of color, disregarding form and representation for the time being. As a child learns first to splash paint and color, what we are looking for is a mirror to child development. As time passes, familiarity with that grows and representation can slowly be incorporated. Abstract works in simple shapes, general tone and color relationships, experimentation with the possibilities of the medium, and so on. The foundations of every part, slowly merged and built together, concurrently. This is what my method of answering questions as they are asked provides. A developmental process that moves forward in unison, gradually.

Once again, if it takes one lifetime to take one real step, it will be a real step and truly forward in nature. Very much unlike the deconstructed rejection and destruction of the historical movements of art. As every day passes I find something more within art to accept and incorporate, and answering the questions as they arise allows that incorporation to be natural and functional. What is added is not added blindly, which is a perilous pitfall when working in a world of seeing (as art is). What is added is added for need and want, it is added as it belongs. The aforementioned time spent forming an identity outside of art allows every step to contain the crucial element. Meaning and purpose. Without meaning, properly applied symbolism, and fitted reasoning there is no order to any of what I learn, and there is no schema within which to fit the tools of creative expression I obtain along the way. Rejecting what preceded your work and destroying the validity of work in a place you want to occupy holds no reasoning and purpose other than to rationalize a tainted personal identity. Accepting a unique path, without bias, without placement beyond the self, and a beginning devoid of any form, is the proper foundation for forward movement and creative expression.

There is perhaps no more common philosophical statement than “know thyself” across any range of belief. It is the foundation of identity. What the phrase does not include is that knowing yourself holds both the knowledge of the self and the evident nature of the world that surrounds you in relation to the self. One does not exist without the other, and both are necessary to find a true identity. Since this is not a post about self discovery, we’ll leave the “how to” of that up to you for now. The point is that it is fundamental to the nth degree. The following post will discuss more about the philosophy. That is a process of rebuilding and as for right now, the process art should be concerned is the abandonment of rejection, and the reversal of destruction. The advantages of deconstruction, and in general art discovering it’s true identity in a world where the identity it once held can widely be considered dead and gone.

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In the previous post I covered an overview of some of my studio methods, and more importantly their meaning. Now I will relate it to what I actually do to make this happen.

As in the last post, I am constantly changing my palette in order to not only learn the colors but to learn how to recognize their potential use.

Here’s some other active methods.

I purposefully use paper palettes as opposed to a wooden palette. And I save them when I am finished, all of them. It’s paint isn’t it? It’s used, from the tube. It’s stroked onto a surface.. These are paintings. Paintings without specific purpose, not for sale, not for images, but work of the brush and hand nonetheless. I can use them later to compose an image, cut them up for collage, or simply use them for study. Take a look. See what I like and how to replicate it. Every color and medium I have used is on there, in every way I have used them over the years. It’s a possibility of another tool at my disposal in what is hours spent mixing color. Why waste those hours if they can illuminate the way?

I have even recently begun using canvas sheet as my palettes. I bet they could serve beautifully as underpaintings for specific works, or even works unto themselves. Ideally, I would like to mix my paints on these canvases for a painting on my easel and create images while mixing on the canvas palette itself. Paint 2 paintings at once. Why not? All that would take is more focus than you could imagine, but it is possible. Focus is the only concern. In the long term process of developing the aforementioned ability to see my colors and recognize them rather than focus on their specifics, as time passes the need to consider them becomes secondhand. So when you know what colors you want to use and how to use them, is it time to lay them on your mixing palette mindlessly, and learn nothing from this? Not for me. When their use is secondary, the palette can become a work unto itself. Potentially. Or in the very least, another step can be taken – whatever you imagine could be done can be done.

I attempt, at least attempt, to touch my hands to every step of the process. Stretching canvas, priming canvas, building frames, and everything else involved. And I mean everything. Understanding the canvas, weaves, weight, and beyond that. Understanding that the canvas is no different in essence than the cotton we wear on our bodies every day, or the linen of a bedsheet. And that bedsheet is a symbol for sleep, a symbol for entering a personal world, a philosophical reference to sleep in every way the word holds meaning in the world. No different than the fabric of any object in our lives, of perhaps the fabric of space itself, philosophically. The weave is a corollary to the grid of a city block, a set of line no different than calligraphic writing, or computer binary code. The weave can be a formation of soldiers, or anything repetitive in our world. There is a connection to be made in any way you can see the connections. The frame upon which the canvas is stretched can invoke any meaning of the word stretching, the act and action of it. Can connect to any meaning of the word skin, as the canvas is a skin over the bones of the frame.

Seeing outside of the simplicity of the task at hand, connections and corollaries can be made wherever you seek them. There is a world within a work of art that goes well beyond the colored mud and oil particles the eye sees through the reflection of light photons.

I seek out how to prime a canvas properly as much as I seek out how to do it improperly. Once you learn how to do it improperly, you can understand why and unlock the keys to your material’s limitations as well as it’s possibilities of discovery. I seek it’s construction, what is acrylic primer, what is it made from? What is oil primer, how is it made, how is it used, how can it be replaced and why can it not be replaced? What are their successes and failures? How can they be incorporated into the creative process, how could they stand as works of their own? Right off the top of my head, they are foundational. Like the base of a house. Any connection can be made to make sense, and the challenge remaining is how to express it faithfully. How to achieve personal artistry on a level enough to work with a full consciousness of the work and the self. As crazy as it sounds, you can prime a canvas creatively. You can construct a frame creatively.

Add those two ideas (touching the entire process, and making all connections possible) to the idea that as time passes, as an artist, the art is the only real product of an artist’s life outside of the self. You can’t capture a moment of being someone else, but to have that person express that moment is a way this can be accomplished. Visual art is an expression of  those moments in a way that can be believed as much as it can be seen. Put those together and you have the concept behind my series of flesh tone deconstructed paintings from mid 2009. The canvas and frame as skin and bone, the artwork as the real piece of the artist. These two paintings were the first I finished.

Art as artistEven the 5 staples on the corners of the frame of the second image hold some meaning. Like hands holding together the concept, the artist, and art.

As the idea progressed the works became more complicated, more visually specific. Work on those ended when other questions arose and put the concept aside. I will be revisiting the concept definitely, and have a work in progress that heavily incorporates this deconstructed method.

These works represent the deconstructed method (past history of art follows a deconstructed path of the work, but not the method within the artist). There is not only much to learn within every fiber of a piece of canvas, all the way from the weaving of the fabric to the finish varnish and everything in between, but endless possibilities of connection outward within all of it. Reaching back to the idea of exponential learning as opposed to linear, and the possibilities and connections between all things become more clear with every step. It felt odd to me while working on this series, how is it that while the whole course of art history has been a process of construction and deconstruction, that no significant lasting note has been made of the possibility of the deconstruction of the canvas and frame themselves? If it has been done, it has certainly not been done prominently. That alone, through intensive study, could make a prominent art career for someone or many artists.

Something so basic as the very flesh and bone of every painting in history, never fully deconstructed. Seeing that, I realized there is so much more left to be done in art, in all the cracks that have been passed over and all the connections within those cracks. And that led me to the so-called death of painting. With so much left that is possible, why run toward death? That is a good question, a philosophical and psychological question of a sociological choice that has been made by the collaborative history of humanity. Definitely food for another post.

Back to methods. I save all my scraps in a pile, including sweepings, canvas pieces, staples that have been stapled, etc. I run a fully recycling studio. Any manner of things can be used for texture and art through recovered or found objects is already widely established. So why throw these things out, if even to try them out and if they fail, something is learned. One of my current works is made through this method – the portrait of the inside-out king. Garbage on plywood : ). This is both a testimony to my working methods of using everything at an artist’s disposal to develop the artist, and a statement on the so called death of painting. Garbage come alive, as a phoenix. Painting has been thrown away for dead or used up, can it reemerge?

I found it best to save the scraps from my own studio to illustrate a few points and save myself from a few others. Illustrate the connection of all things, and the use of all things. The same idea as painting on the palette while you are painting on the painting. And the same idea as compounding learning and progression within the artist first and the work second. The cut pieces of canvas, the dirt of the floor, these are products of my work as valid as a finished painting taken in the context of only work, disregarding the end result. Taken as simply material which has touched the artist’s hand they are equal. In the trimming of a canvas, which piece of canvas is more the essence of canvas? The piece stretched to the frame or the scrap cut off? If you’re referring to a canvas philosophically, then the stretched piece holds greater meaning. It is canvas, as canvas is used in art. The scrap is negligible. Taken another way, as only material, not so. Are the flakes of skin we shed daily any less skin than the living ones on our body that are revealed by the shedding? Only across time. They were once the same, the dead cells are a negative of the living skin.

Same as the canvas, the trimmed pieces are a negative of the process, of the “usable” piece. Same as a negative of a photograph isn’t useless at all, neither should those pieces be. They hold meaning, and use. They speak to the alterabiliy of canvas through the tool use and artist’s hand. Why destroy the negatives of a process? Why take pieces that have seen influence from an artist’s hand and disregard them? Today’s art is a negative of the flaming crash painting has endured.

And beyond those considerations, creating images out of the negatives of an artist’s work is a reflective corollary to the process I delve into. All things are to be considered and brought into use. The reverse development of the work itself, laid underneath the importance of the development of the artist is a process of building through negatives. It is a process of learning how to create not by moving in a linear direction into teaching one’s self the specifics of learning how to create, then to create increasing specificity. Rather to teach one’s self to recognize the self and accept the process as it unfolds. This particular work is as it looks. Pieces, negatives of the process, mistakes and learning working itself randomly to create not only the work but the image of the artist him or herself.

Here’s an interesting tidbit that illuminates a deep truth within a process of trust in work and life. This plywood substrate and the oil paint base on which it is painted was not originally meant for what it ultimately became. I laid on the house paint base for creating something I can’t remember. While it was drying for months, someone who didn’t belong where they were in my studio stepped on it, leaving a large footprint. What it was once slated to be was no longer possible. Does that make it garbage? For what I originally slated it for, perhaps. It ultimately didn’t become that however. It made it yet another opportunity to accept a changed path, reveal new questions, and continue creation on that adjunct path. It made it far more accurately aligned with its new end result. And who knows, if it is never purchased and never appreciated it may ultimately become garbage. Such is the nature of open possibility, and such possibilities have a much wider range of sight than a strict adherence to a condemned path.

My next post will continue from this, highlighting the differences between the method of linear discovery art has so far known and the method I embark upon I can only call “uncovery”.

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Jackson Pollock 1948

From a working perspective on my current method (bear in mind this is current and is subject to change. In fact it is expected and encouraged to change organically with my development as an artist):

Part of my work is the use of expressive underpaintings, done in “action painting” style process. Early on I used this extensively to use the canvas as  a mirror in which to look and learn to see better, stronger. And to both define an unseen subject as well as disregard subject in order to focus more directly on other tasks within the artistic pursuit. To look at an unformed image and acknowledge and outline complicated form, tone and color. And time has gone on I have used this less and relied more on incorporating more advanced sketch technique to begin a work, or to define precisely what I wanted in a work from the beginning. The expressive underpainting is also a key to what I am trying to illustrate. I have been able to, and will continue to attempt to incorporate previously disparate styles and elements into a world where their cohesion is based on the proper placement of said styles, methods, and elements within a studied structure of meaning, symbolism, and purpose.

My works for the most part contain many revisions and layers, as studies over studies. If only I could separate out the layers, I would have 20x the amount of available works for sale. Often my studies are contained within the process of my finished works. This is important in my overall method. In recognizing and within the desire to utilize many styles and elements as part of a broad language of visual art, it creates quite a bit to learn and absorb. It is even more challenging to keep so many possibilities at the forefront of my mind and on my mental palette for purposeful use. One method I have developed to assist with this challenge is the idea of taking every moment and every opportunity as a study. Layering in my work is a natural way to achieve depth and to effectively revise and tweak a painting. But I tend to take it a step further, lay in extra layers and use the entire process as a study at every step.

I could create a finished work from a path extending outward from each layer. The layers are used as depth technique in the spirit of the Flemish masters, and yet they are used newly as sketch technique and for the purpose of learning as well. I would call the Flemish technique linear in it’s purpose. Layers laid in to achieve the greatest depth possible, working in conjunction toward the same composition and image. My process is not linear in that I am doing this, but sacrificing some of that smoothness of depth where possible in order to incorporate an endless series of “what if” questions and answers into each work. The layering serves both the depth of a linear finished work, and the open development of the artist. It serves an understanding of form, a taste for seeing what effect revision takes on, and a thorough exploration of color, transparency, techniques, and more. It is sketching while finishing, it is depth with understanding flatness, it is technique turned inside out, it is Davinci’s anantomical study applied to the anatomy of paint and image. The layering becomes a non linear path to both finishing and complete dissection, and all the possibilities within a work, the choices  within that work, and the flaws within that work are revealed along the way for understanding and overcoming them productively.

At this point in the learning process, the end result is less crucial than the process and everything learned within it. My foundation is my self and process, and the work must follow that. Not the other way around where the work is the only important element and the process is enslaved to it. The strict adherence to the 4 layer or 7 layer techniques is an art of an artist following a work. In a broader sense, it is an artist’s enslavement to the object. There is no freedom and truth for artists in following the art. The artist must be able to lead and have the art follow, this is newness.

The end result and placement of it at the peak of meaning of a training process for an artist defines a strict set of methods to achieve a particular result. For instance, not many artists can be effective within landscape work with a very wide range of oil colors squeezed onto a palette. This often confuses tone and other considerations. I have brought images of famous painters into Photoshop (Lucien Freud for example) and found that while sampling colors from all different points of the work the general base color of them was virtually identical across all tones dark and light. Very little variation. That says two things in my mind. Excellent artists wield great control over color and tone. And, it pays, even with the best of artists, to limit the palette which I am sure even Freud did. Perhaps.

I definitely agree with that. However… One aim of mine is to find ways to speed up the process of development by putting the focus entirely on the artist and letting the art only follow. I limit the palette, but am constantly altering it from layer to layer to achieve the same ends with differing paint colors in combination. This is a set of choices with a wide range of benefits, and that is the biggest point of doing it this way. I am able to focus on the effective use of a limited palette as most any artist would be doing, but learn more about effective color pairings, undertones, overtones, slight color differences, and the overall use of all the paints in the same range of time. Multi tasking within the learning process. Just a small example of a bigger idea I seek to execute in ever aspect in the studio. Shake everything up. Learn why it is done why it is done, then do what fits. Doing without understanding is a guaranteed failure before the beginning.

In my studio methods I attack this from many angles. I am just as likely to do something the wrong way on purpose to discover it’s limitations as I am to strictly apply myself in learning the proper method and eschewing all other methods. How does making mistakes on purpose serve me?? One key word – why. Rather than having the answer to the question – why do it this way? – disregarded or answered for me, I learn why. And in the process learn the entire of validity within an action. What can be stretched, what cannot be altered, what is the essence of any art? And I take that one skill fully learned and am able to apply it to any question freely. How it affects conservation, composition, tone, form, symbolism, etc. etc. In learning something as you are taught you gain a skill. In learning something as you discover it you gain a tool. A skill is a repetitive singularity. A tool is yours to decide how to use, an organic permanence.

As an overview to this post, I am focusing on learning in the studio through both failure and success, through both doing and undoing, from every angle and approach without missing a moment of working time on repetitive action.

I will invite you, as an exercise, to take the following Lucien Freud work and save the picture to your desktop.

Lucien Freud


If you have Photoshop, bring it into the program. Navigate to the color picker and the eyedropper tool, and check most any spot on the entire figure to see the color. The foundational color will generally and miraculously stay within a very small range. Yellow orange to red orange and in between. Everything else is dependent on shade and tint, and color intensity. There is an inordinate range of possibilities with, realistically, what could be in actual use, a 5 color palette at most. One black, one white, red, yellow, and perhaps a brown or blue. Or if you want to work traditionally, a white, a black, an ochre, a muted red and that’s it. Many renaissance painters functioned within the use of Flake White, Ivory Black, Yellow Ochre, and Red iron Oxide for the vast majority of their work. Add a blue and you can create just about any color. Of course juxtaposition of tone and color and the composition of such only adds to the possibilities.

Getting back to the point, working within a small palette is a time honored method of study. And realistically you could spend an entire career doing so and still have much to learn when you go six feet under. I alter that palette consistently to widen the range of study. One day it is traditional, the next day it may be Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Lamp Black, Indian Red, and Cobalt Blue. The next possibly Unbleached Titanium, Mars Black, Jaune Brilliant, Perylene Red, and Ultramarine. After a while, we’re developing not the particular use of a set of colors but the understanding of how to read their use. I am not particularly concerned with what Cadmium Yellow can do, it’s specific mixing use and it’s undertone and the other details of the color. That is information more for a reproductive painter, or a paint maker. As an artist, I am concerned with my own ability to recognize the use of the color, to see it where it is, and to be able to take one splash of it onto a palette and be able to read it’s use, it’s undertone, etc. If I develop the ability to see it in all it’s scope and what it is capable of, the mastery of it’s use is now as easy as with any other color on the pallette.

That ability to see also develops my abilities in the other parts of the studio process, and that is the key. After enough time, I have not only gained the use of my paints as a tool (whether or not I have even extensively worked with them), but also added an ability to recognize. The ability can be applied to anything within my work. I am chasing after my self at every step, so every step multiplies upon itself in my development in a non-linear exponential fashion. All things affect all other things, and this what I am attempting to shift the focus to and to refine within my process in the studio.

This is just a specific and singular example. Apply the compounding ability to learn and BE an artist, and that ability can be applied to anything an artist needs to consider.

Creating a painted image can be an exceedingly complex set of questions. There is nothing in art more potentially challenging than an empty canvas. This thought occurred to me while doing Calligraphy for the invitations for my upcoming wedding. I took on the responsibility of doing them, as an artist, for the purpose of simply learning something new. And while studying a bit, I discovered this. While the art of scribe can be a beautiful life’s work which requires great dedication, it pales in comparison to the work of the painter on canvas. Ink, pen, words. Different hands, layouts, there are great possibilities within it. However, painting on a canvas involves all of the considerations calligraphy can present and many many more once you take in the scope of what a painting can mean, express, and represent in every way it can do so. Art on the canvas is as wide open as any mode of expression can possibly be.

Compounding your ability to learn is crucial to be a truly expressive painter. This is what drives my daily studio methods. Working with a firm commitment to the questions art poses and a desire to create freely, and putting aside specific devotions, I am left with all the possibilities and only my self to discover them.

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Matthew Adam Long Road After Dissection

After reading back through the front page synopsis I realized it would be a good thing for me and any readers out there for me to better identify some of my working methods.

My work is currently based loosely on developing a functional thought/creation system for matching the transitory nature of color and light as it defines our life in form and it’s context in our world, but through seeing first rather than method and training as the primary foundation. I take method and training quite seriously as a professional artist in every conceivable way, but it is meant – for me – to be taken after purpose and self. That is a mainstay of my work and theory, and everything else outlined in this blog is a study.

As an overview, I walk a line between many worlds of art in my work. I do not work from life or support material in most cases – not directly. If the specific work calls for realism to be used purposefully as a symbolic or otherwise necessary element to say something I do not feel can otherwise be said effectively, then that is a case in which I would use appropriate support material to create that realist element. Any support material necessary is a possibility, be it models from life, photographic material, etc., but only for specific use to illustrate a specific image or portion of an image. It is used under the umbrella of it’s purpose and symbolism, and not as a majority dependency.

In using this material I am more likely to take the structure or study the system of light and form it reveals and learn to use that fluently, rather than copy directly. Everything I endeavor is meant to both express and to further my self as an artist, and the artist’s self is never placed in a secondary position. In creating an image I am taking all the time spent on it to study the relationship of light placement and type against form and composition. This is more important to me than to faithfully execute the best source of working support I can create from other outside material. If an ability to see a fully functioning and complete picture is fleshed out in the mind (truly realistic in it’s truth of depth measured against life, not necessarily for realism – made possible through intensive study) then not only could that potentially equal what could be accomplished with source material, but any minor or major changes can be made in the mind as well. It is the idea of Cezanne’s minor structural changes used to refine a picture for the artist, inside or outside of the limitations of realistic rendering. Taken further however. We are no longer creating minor changes or moving in steps. We are attempting to rebuild the ability to create an imaginative realism, and then make choices within that capacity in order to open all possibilities. Think of it as a 3d modeling program for the imagination, and then consider what would be possible with such a tool at an artist’s disposal.

Those changes can be to alter the images to the desire of the artist, stretch the boundaries of what is realistically possible into what is not possible but still convincing, and to be able to realistically create what cannot exist outside of the mind. Any perspective of rotation, placement of composition, source of light, color of light, pattern of tone, or any other fluid changes in form and image are possible. These are facets of an early period in the process. The ideal is to build this capacity through training and then when a foundation of facility is created, freedom to truly express begins to exist. It is a search for the ideal of an artist being able to create anything that artist can dream. If only I could accomplish that one thing in art, the possibilities it makes available are endless. Even in attempting to accomplish it, with the application of devotion, discipline, determination and great focus, the possibilities are quite wide open. Wide open enough to provide many lifetimes of work that is worth pursuing.

On rare occasion I render from source material, then embellish later if it is absolutely necessary to lend a realist notation to a work for that work to be successful. In the early stages it is more than necessary to study from life, work from material. How can one learn the true depth of the visual world without having an eye toward it at all times, and one eye toward the self.

I am also more likely to design a work around a unique model (who I cannot yet afford to pay, so the very few people available to me suffice right now) and what that model reveals in his or her humanity rather than try to fit a model to a concept. I can spend a lifetime looking for the perfect model, and waste that time because life cannot match the imagination, or I can find deeper creativity within the reality of what a unique being creates with their own existence and find inspiration within it. It is an organic approach to possibility. There are occasions where I desire the ease of a model available, but taking that restrained situation there is a lesson in what I cannot have. I am forced to find another way, and that other way has meaning. That other way almost forced upon me is not a burden or a mistake. It is a message to the possibilities of something greater, begging to be followed. And that is a large part of what I truly do as an artist – to accept the possibility of other ways and understand a greater advantage within them.

It may very well be better without models, and sufficient to simply to rely on preliminary searches and studies from source material. Then move forward from that foundation into free embellishment. It is a reverse process in many ways. I study something real, piecing together what I am after in my mind, then spend the time working on a piece chasing after that vision. Along the way taking in whatever fruitful “mistakes” that naturally emerge from my hand.

I can chop and kitbash any visual elements, features, and poses I want and find appropriate. The risk is a great need for trust in myself. The struggle is the immensity of the challenge and the incredibly slow pace to be expected when as an artist you desire to recreate life from the ground up. But the payoff, that is complete and total freedom and movement. Even the possibility of that is enough to sacrifice a lifetime for.

Rather than being caught in an attempt to be faithful to rigid source from life which may or may not limit the true nature of a vision that defies reality. If I tried to fit models to concepts I would probably badger them to tears expecting perfection of pose, depth of emotion, perfect light, and more to the point where it could scarcely even be accomplished by anyone but a world class actor willing to go nude for mad cheap, and surrounded by a world class photographic studio packed with assistants. The point isn’t that I’m a pain in the ass (which I guess I am), but that for a large number of reasons I desire to paint what cannot otherwise be accomplished, and need to be able to rely on my mind’s ability to create an image far more than I need to rely on the copying of an image already before me. I need to establish a strata of meaning for historical and established forms of visual expression far more than I need to find “my style”. I need to find a definition and meaning for all styles, and play Dr. Frankenstein with them all in my own way.

There are a handful of fundamental standards which I prescribe to. Tying into the preceding paragraph, I am not excited by painting that which can already be seen otherwise. With a confluence of perfect conditions that never seem to appear in the real world we live in that does not disregard chaos as a great work of art can, what excites me is the imagination and the hand of the artist bound to it.

Working from a model or direct source material can only yield as much as that model or material has within it, and in the grander scheme of things this correlates to the way of the artist. From a purpose point of view, it is not my purpose to do what can already be done. Often I look at works and rather than see the beauty of them I see a model, somewhat out of place within a dreamy context. Maxfield Parrish comes to mind when I think of this. All the credit in the world goes out to his work, and yet the model in this work (and others)Maxfield Parrish Garden of Allah screams out loud to me as a studio model around whom the setting was placed from artifice. It almost appears to be collage. And working in that method in my mind is only appropriate if you want to create works that either resemble collage or can be better executed as actual collage. This is not meant to decry collage or his method, but only (as is the case for many of my arguments) to illustrate the point that as a foundation it is better to eschew identification with a dependency of methods. Whether a style is best done in collage or resembles collage in my world is a specific choice. It is a choice within a realm of meaning, so if I choose that style or execution it is for the reason that the particular work demands. As a consistent method it doesn’t serve my needs. I am teaching myself to see and create seeing, and take every method available as a specific support to that seeing and not to be the central focus of it. This method is useful, and meant to be used. Where it is appropriate. And much better served as an accompanying tool in artist’s breadth of vision, rather than a devotion to a singular process.

It is clear from the model’s dress which is dated to the time period. Such is the danger of being faithful to a studio model, and the reason for nude models in general (dress is dated and the human form is not). If you;re purpose is to incorporate history and the time period into a work, it is served well with a clothed model to some degree. If you do not desire to be betrayed by the passing of time, a clothed model will betray you in the end. Expanding that, a niche of style consistent with the time period will do just the same. This I seek to avoid with vigor. I refuse to have my work betrayed by time simply because I was not adventurous enough to pursue my own vision of art.

Clothed models serve up to the artist another thing to strongly consider, possibly a useful tool as well but also a trapping for an artist who cannot operate with the foresight to understand the passage of the present.

Now that is part of his style and has a style all it’s own. Looks great too, he is quite an artist indeed. However, I am not looking to lay a model or figure into a work in this way, unless by choice. The greatest available asset to me as an artist would be the ability to fluently create within the spectrum of the most deconstructed abstraction to the finest detailed realism, from thought and learned trained skill. Pulling work from a palette of paint as wide as possible, a palette of brushes whose mastery I have for all of them, a palette of techniques whose understanding I control. Techniques which I can fit to purpose and meaning as easily as I can find the right tube of color. A palette of style used in the same fashion, with full breadth of vision and control. And so on, for context, statement, composition, form, line, and on and on. A true and full mastery gained from a bare and empty self perched on the bird’s nest full rotational view of history, art, and self. Out of vision alone.

This is virtually impossible in the grand scheme of things. Should one day come when I have been dubbed by god and life a master of all things and free to openly create anything and everything using a completely open mind and a perfect hand, within the ideal Utopian workspace, this is possible. Come on.. Anyone looking for that and the absolute perfection of it is looking for a loony bin.

What I am after more is what I like to call risk aversion bohemianism and the self exploration of the canvas. Now, that is a term I coined thinking one day of my life and why I live the way I do. In essence, I am in pursuit of pleasure and enjoyment of the single forward (forward in time) life given to me, but driven in that pursuit by avoiding what I cannot tolerate at every step. I am not going to go deeply into that as it applies to my life, but for this discussion I will lay out what that means to me within the artworks.

I follow the method of avoiding direct source material in order to avoid the other things that come along with it. You know, the catch. The largest catch to source material is the possibility of a dependency on it as an artist. As opposed to consistent study of source material, which I do obsessively. But not for specifics and not for dependency. It is for answers to questions as they come, with the intention of accomplishing the aforementioned fluency.

I want to make certain I remain creative, and that part of my work maintains the creation of the source material of my imagination. The more real material I use directly, the more likely my work is to be already in existence, or capable of already being in existence and therefore possibly saying less of what is within me and my untouched mind space. I also want to avoid direct devotion for too long a period of time to one method, theory, or subject. I am seeking a fluency I can utilize. The longer I spend in one structure, the more that structure overtakes my work.

My daily process – Rather than devote myself in one place, I stay in that one place long enough to overcome the obstacle presented to me when I sought that question’s answer. When the next question or obstacle presents itself I leave the last behind, finished or unfinished. Even if the previous question is unresolved the new question has signaled I am no longer mentally available to take any more from the previous question’s pursuit. This is how I maximize my progression. For example, there is no way I have become a master of color just because I have asked myself what it is to use color effectively in a certain way. So I seek to master the portion of the use of color that applied to the particular question. To stay too long attempting to resolve more than what I asked for stands in the way of the next question’s arrival. A particular question of color may not lead to a deep study of color, it may very well lead to a composition issue or a flaw of form in that specifiic, to continue with color at this point now becomes a non-productive mistake. Color cannot undo the flaw in the form or composition. The next step is to resolve those questions and put color down for now.

The questions that art poses, and the possibilities of what I may or may not be capable of quietly take the place of linear devotion to a style or method, a set of source material, or a particular statement. As an artist, this is what it means to exist as a natural element rather than a manmade element. Fliud vs. rigid, as a student of art and life. Three dimensional vs. linear, and the idea of existing within the work of being and not just doing.

If I did stay in that one place too long, when the time came to act upon a question art posed to me the question will pass by. These questions we ask one after another as we drift through life, they are fleeting. The answers are even more delicate and fleeting. Should I devote to a singularity another, and another, and another question passes until I have deeply formed my abilities within whatever particular method I have clung to. But they have stunted any future growth in other methods, in other statements, and in other abilities.

I become set free to follow the whispers of what is true creation, while at the same time exposed to a much greater degree of uncertainty and dissatisfaction with my growth and skill. I accept the trade off. The ugliest part of this pursuit of beauty is that I know deep down and to the very highest surface of my mind, and everywhere in between, that this process is a lifelong devotion in which there is no pinnacle. There is no day in the future when it all comes clear. There is no perfection, no epiphany. I do not see this as a condemnation at all. With that lifelong devotion, there is also no peak and thus, no fall. There is also no day where my light fades, no stale day, no life passing me by. There is no single day of clarity, but rather all of them contain more clarity than the last. No perfection in the artwork, but through that devotion perfection is fulfilled within me as an artist instead. This is the artist as the third dimension.

This is a brief (long winded I know, but brief in the grand scheme) overview of my philosophical method and the foundation of my choices as an artist, not necessarily in the art.

Concurrently, I work in a way that is akin to the multi-tasking of today’s world. The next post is a closer look to the daily processes of study and learning as it applies to progression in the work.

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Vincent Van Gogh Pair of Shoes

(continued from “Why Oil?“)

The next set of questions this poses is “why paint at all”? Obviously I’m putting the cart before the horse in explaining why I paint in oils, as opposed to explaining (or even defending as the case may be today) why to paint at all. Assuming I am not just aspiring to be a painter, but to also be a relevant and modern fine artist with the inherent desire of any artist aspiring to not only set my work to a social context, but to also innovate within that context..
Being what most call a “dead medium”, or the infamous victim of the well known declaration in June 1839 by Paul Delaroche that “from today, painting is dead!”, painting certainly has it’s hills to climb.

I will convince you, or at least lay skin onto bone in convincing myself, that painting simply cannot be dead. That it is not dead. That in fact, painting has yet to truly live at all.

So here we have it. Why paint? Considering most feel it is a dead medium, if in fact my aim is to be a relevant fine artist.. To start, we’re not talking about hobbyist work or a personal pursuit of self satisfaction. This isn’t post retirement, or a life change after I am well off but dissatisfied. And it isn’t a soul searching attempt. Those pursuits do not entertain the question of why to paint very deeply. In those cases, the reason to paint is mostly because you feel like it. Whatever that means.

We’re going to delve into why an artist would choose to be a painter primarily, and the looming notion in today’s art that painting is in fact a dead medium in which to move art and the visual world forward, as the greatest artists have done.

Moving from the beginning, the choice is a natural one. I am part of a family line of three generations of paint store owners. For certain, that is not fine art. Certainly I could have asked God or life, or fate (or whatever you would call forces outside of your choices) for a more nourishing setting in my life than a bevvy of paint store owners as family. Family I am not even very close to mind you. Fine art would have been great. Poetry, literature, music, they all could have served their higher purpose. But paint stores is what I have to work with. There’s more there than it would seem at first glance. For one, we’re still talking about exposure to the material itself, the idea of surfaces, color and design. Even if the use of color and design is detached from fine art, from three dimensional creation of form, it is still an existing familiarity. A proximity to paint and painting in a very basic form. The importance of this to me is that at least there is a natural affinity there. I’m not trying to be a marine biologist following a long developmental life living in a sandy cave. I’m not trying to get back to nature as a forest ranger, when I have lived my whole life in a treeless city. In this my life follows my life.

There is a long list in history of people who bucked the direction for which it appeared their life was slated, and achieved great things. And I applaud that, absolutely. However, for me, I have searched as time has passed for something to do with my hands and mind that fit my character. A natural and productive worldly and physical mode of work that fit my heart, my spirit. A pursuit that can encompass who and what I am, without having to start from zero as I have done already so many times in life. A pursuit that can fulfill my promise, and in which I can be at home and yet consistently challenged. I looked for something that was already there. I need to. Art has always been there, but never took hold. Paint has always been, in the background. Working with my hands, my thoughts, applying personal ideas has always been there. Even construction and mathematics, which plays into my work to some degree, has always appeared in my life. Art in many ways is a perfect fit, and painting is the primary platform for that fit.

That is a matter of accepting naturally what life has set in motion within my life and my self. Getting back to the idea of not bucking the flow within my own life, this plays an important role. Somewhere in the middle there, I broke away from everything about the life I knew. Everything (and I literally mean everything) about the world surrounding me. Everything I was, everything I planned, everything I knew. And I’m not exaggerating when I say everything. I eradicated my own mind in order to rebuild it. I gave away nearly everything I owned. I detached from the world around me, ignored the admonitions of those around me, feared no reprisals from life, no reprisals from fate. Not because I felt like being brave, or a plain jerk. I got to a point where nothing about my life and self was natural to me any more. I saw no truth, saw no future in my self if I remained on the path I was on. This choice was made in my formative years of age 19-23 . But the questions were there long before that. Let’s skip the bio for another time perhaps, or at least a different post.

So, I have bucked the trend that begged for bucking. It just was not in regards to work, not in regards to art specifically, but to the path my self was on instead. Coming back to art after all the time that has passed, I was looking for something to come back to. Not something new again. I was new. I am new.

That’s a framework around reason number one to be an artist and paint. But that does not begin to address why painting isn’t what would likely appear to be an idiotic choice of career for anyone not looking to suffer, be poor, be society’s fool, or otherwise a sideshow to those who would ask “so, what do you do?”. “I am a painter.” Houses? “No, an artist”. “Wow, that sounds so interesting and cool, (but has absolutely no bearing on the world as it passes by, and I have no idea what that means!…)”. Let’s not kid ourselves and state straight out, painting is not exactly the most utilitarian pursuit one could engage in. It doesn’t erect buildings, it doesn’t advance technology, and to the average person any influence it has is largely or entirely unseen. To most people, it even holds the appearance of a lazy bohemian pursuit. When in fact, to be what I aspire to be as an artist will take an unbelievable amount of work.

That is the crux of my personal reasons to be an artist, and to paint. The next reason relates to the influence painting has upon the world that is largely or entirely unseen by the average person.

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Gustav Klimt Farm Garden with Crucifix


I’ve often fought myself over how hard I work, how fast I work, how much I produce. But in the end the fight is over the fact that regardless of the quantity of my production my progression remains at the same consistent level. At times being more productive has actually hurt my progression. I get tied too deeply into finishing works that at some point become too repetitive or to whom no amount of revision will significantly alter. That is time lost to standstill. As a result of wanting to move too quickly, I sometimes move more slowly.

I can leave a painting for 2 weeks, or 2 month, or 2 years, come back to it knowing exactly what I want to see and how to make it happen, and it’s done in hours. One of my best underpainting compositions took exactly 1 1/2 minutes to lay out just a couple of weeks ago. I have ruined 100 good compositions for a desire to continue study, or a fear of a lack of materials with which to pump out works and a fear of where they will be stored when finished. Realistic fears. In some ways I have sidestepped those notions by painting 5 or 10 paintings into one, with repeated underpaintings and shifting revisions designed to both achieve a desired result and experiment with many options.

By the same token I have worked endlessly over a painting straight through and only served to waste that time and take away the essence of what I wanted to do with it in the first place. Then having to spend even more time rebuilding it.. Or at least took away what it revealed that I was happy with, and ended up covering over and ruining that essence because after a period of time I had to rework those passages to fit with the altered direction of the rest of the piece. Time is slowly resolving these issues as I perform in the studio with far more assertion, but it is important to note the stages of failure in order to understand how to reach the stages of success.

I’ve fought myself in this and realize now that the urge came from a desire to move faster than time is capable of guiding me. And rooted in a fear of not having enough “work” accumulated to help with money issues. Fear of wasting time without production, for someone who has had a later start in artistic pursuit. This is somewhat resolved in my post regarding studies and re-appropriating failed pieces.
Not everything is about production and money. Quality counts and patience with the process does a lot more to breed quality in my case. Quality and focus breed production and money if you believe that great work will find it’s way, which I do. The rest of the time is meant for me to focus on intensive study, for constantly adjusting the approach, and for learning to see and reaffirming the place of the current time of my growth and understanding in the bigger picture.

I learned two things at work in the outside world – how to produce, and how to strive for a level of professionalism i.e. what it takes to make it. I’m thankful for that – it serves me well to consider that every particle of paint is important and needs to be considered. That the very best of artworks show great aspiration in their execution (Gustav Klimt and his attention to detail is the first artist I thought of in considering faithfullness to execution, his father was a gold engraver, a position which requires an incredible attention to detail and little room for error), with full attention to every facet the artist can juggle. The very best represents a harmony of creation that almost renders the artist as a vessel for perfection to flow through as much as the director of such perfection.
I had a focus issue with that for the longest time, in rushing it.

In the process of the artist and not the art, it’s not really about production and building so much as it is now about uncovering, revealing, accepting, and allowing a natural rhythm of creation. I reversed this notion for myself. Breaking down the barriers to mind and hand and opening an endless array of paths, rather than building a path to a particular destination. The destination is productivity, but the path to that destination is faithful dedication to the quality of time and my presence with the work, and my refinement of the process of creating.

The more I cooperate with what I have always fit into, the faster my progression is. That includes leaving necessary room for stopping and searching with my eyes, moving slowly yet decisively, and listening to what is both around me and inside of me.

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