Artist Journals

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 93

Balancing Act!

 

Your vision

will become clear

only when you look

into your heart.

Who looks outside,

dreams.

Who looks inside

awakens.

Carl Gustav Jung

 

I just had a flashback to a childhood dream. A frequently occurring one.

In it, I am in this ambiguous space with a huge pencil on my shoulder. For the duration of the dream, I’m trying to write or draw something on a very viscous surface. The combination of the pencil’s weight, it’s awkward and unruly size and, the uncooperative surface is frustrating. The memory of this dream was prompted by my attempt to assess the feeling of isolation that I have as an artist.

Especially, now. Now, that painting is no longer a delayed vocation or, for that matter an avocation. I’ve evolved quite a bit from when I first reemerged in 2011 with my first solo exhibition at the Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford. No more thematic shows or thematic work, for that matter.

GER #16 – 2017 – 90x120cm – 47.24 x 35.4 inches – acrylic on canvas

Titles were dropped. Work was, instead, given a catalog or stock identification. I reassessed everything. I painted only to solve visual problems; sangfroid and without any emotional starting point or basis. 

Yet, there are doubts. Am I just a jaded old abstract painter? I can’t call myself an Abstract Expressionist because expression represents emotion.

However, my bride-to-be Paula, insists that my work is highly emotional and evocative. In Hindi, evocative means serving or, bringing to mind. Paula says my work produces memories, ideas, emotions and responses in, and for, the viewer.

I am staring into the future. I’m reassessing myself and my work, not as myself, but as someone else. My work has to be as authentic and as original as possible. But, authenticity and originality is not a goal. The authentic nature of the work comes from who I am.

As for originality,  the poet W. H. Auden wrote, “Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.”

Mark Twain wrote, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Looking back to the first steps I took as an art student; I started on this direction on the advice of my instructor and mentor, Ed Togneri and started to work in the manner of Alberto Burri. Preparatory sketching led to the calligraphic element in my work which was likened to Cy Twombly which, was odd because I had never seen his work or heard of him until someone pointed out how uncannily similar our work was. The Twombly-thing has all but disappeared with this last batch of work.

Oh, and vision? What is my “artistic vision”? I have no idea!  The Czech writer Vaclav Havel said,  “Vision is not enough – it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.” At one point, I was convinced that I was some sort of channel; a medium trying to interpret or transcribe a meaning or a message from outside of me or, beyond.

Now I go back to that reoccurring dream and somewhat understand that message, that meaning, that vision is inside. I still don’t know what it is or, its purpose and that’s where the feeling of isolation comes from. Maybe, it is as Hans Hoffman said, “To sense the invisible and to be able to create it, that is art.”

Paul Klee said, “Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible.” Dream guides interpret that dreaming of drawing something could be a sign that I should pay more attention to the irrational, creative and intuitive aspects of my personality. But, I was only five or six at the time. And yet, I have always remembered this dream. 

What are the irrational, creative and intuitive aspects of my personality? I have no idea. I had a Jesuit priest as an instructor in college. He said he joined the order to get closer to God. However, the closer he would get to God, the further away God would move!

Alberto Giacometti said, The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity. He also said that, “In every work of art the subject is primordial, whether the artist knows it or not. The measure of the formal qualities is only a sign of the measure of the artist’s obsession with his subject; the form is always in proportion to the obsession.”

It seems I’m no closer to figuring myself or my work out. So, I’ll take Paula up on her tried and true advise and antidote, “Paint Ron!”

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 92

Catharsis. Epiphany. Resurrection.

 

And this is the unwritten history of man,

his unseen, negative accomplishment,

his power to do without gratification

for himself provided there is

something great, something into which

his being, and all beings can go.

He does not need meaning

as long as such intensity has scope.

Because then it is self-evident;

it is meaning.

Saul Bellow, Herzog

 

 

FHV #10 – 2017 [30” x 40”] Acrylic on canvas

 

It hit me like a thunder-clap; as most epiphanies do. I, the self-described artist with no message, no emotion driving my work only; cold compositional studies.

For quite some time I’ve had the notion, the impression or a feeling that I had to either penetrate or interpret the white noise that I felt was outside of me. The emotional implosion that occurred today during my daily walk-and-think, revealed that, at that moment, I had layers and layers of “muck” washed away from my soul; and my inner-vision.

I was thinking of Forrest Gump. It is still is my favorite movie. I don’t know why some people just don’t get it.

It’s total Zen wrapped in what appears to be a pretty simple story about a pretty simple man. The funny part is that it’s exactly that: a pretty simple story about a pretty simple man.  

Today, I realized that my art is far from not being emotional. Today, I discovered how central one human being, Paula E. Batchelor, could be to someone’s art. In this case, that someone is me!

Paula is my wife-to-be and her presence in my life has been the genesis of these last few new works and this new style. The journey of discovery and revelation, however, began with this painting (above) – FHV #10 – 2017 – three months ago.

And, today, I discovered that everything that has happened to me, to the both of us, individually and together, needed to happen. The fog has lifted in my head. I can see the future in my world of symbols. Symbols are all that I know and can relate to. And, this painting, which I don’t ever want to sell, is what’s triggered contains the symbols of all of these feelings.

As a painter, I’ve been trained to see patterns and relationships. I see, think and paint in symbols. The horizontal elements, I now understand are more than just compositional elements. They define past, present and future. 

The calligraphy is stream of consciousness and free association but, the content is purposely not made apparent – just scribbles to most. The Xs are striking out, blocking out and banishing thoughts, events and, yes (now I understand) emotions. Even the colors (which I also denied) are symbolic of my surfacing consciousness.

Much of this enlightenment I believe was triggered by my daughter Jennifer’s visual and aesthetic intuitiveness, “Why are you angry and confused Dad?” she asked, about previous works in this series.  But I’m not I said. Oh, but I was. I was in a cross-current of emotions. As I had taught her; before you lie to someone, you must first accept the lie yourself

A lot of these revelations were sparked because, on my walk, I was thinking how the character Jenny in Forrest Gump, was, in her mind, running towards something when actually, she was unknowingly running away from the one thing in her life that haunted her. Forrest ran from things that he was taught to and that he thought he was supposed to stay away from.

Perhaps it was because he thought he understood his limitations. Yet, he in effect, he ended up running towards something instead. That something was the solution to what made him run from or move on from in the first place. And no, my catharsis or epiphany or whatever, doesn’t mean these new works are now somehow biographical.

Yes, we all have something in our lives that haunts us. Sometimes we confront it and move on. Sometimes not and we remain in a state of stasis and annoyed by the static.  Yet, this catharsis, epiphany and resurrection is in no way antithetical to what I have avoided injecting into my art. But, its presence is finally apparent to me. 

So, my notion, impression or feeling that I had to interpret the white noise that I felt was outside of me was wrong. The static was not outside me but in my skull. I’m no different than anyone else. But, as a painter, I have the opportunity to plumb the depths of my psyche. Not that my emotional state is, or should be, important to anyone else or even to my Art.

So, Aristotle was right: The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. In my case, the outward appearance was in fact relevant to my inner being. 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 91

The Awe and Mystery Which Reaches from the Inner Mind…

 

There is nothing wrong with your television set.

Do not attempt to adjust the picture.

We are controlling transmission… 

The Outer Limits (television show 1963-65)

 

There are storms in my head. Something is controlling what is being transmitted through me. Yeah, sounds like weird artist stuff! I keep saying that there is no intended emotion in my work.

I don’t paint happiness or, because I’m happy. I don’t paint sadness or. because I’m sad. I don’t paint anger or, when I’m angry.

I just paint. I scrape away the whiteness of the canvas to see what’s underneath. I see and I’m aware of the calligraphy and asemic writing, the horizontal lines.

If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.

The symbols, such as the Xs, musical notes and commas – I have no idea where they come from. The commas first appeared at the end of my second MFA year. They were part of something I started to work on called “whale songs” which, were kind of a tribute to New Bedford, my then hometown.

At onetime I used to approach the canvas with a specific intent. Now, I just start without thought but rather, more on some type of intuition. I have no preconception at all of what the piece will turnout like.

We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity.

I do know that living here in Figueira da Foz, the place, the scenery and the colors are seeping into my head. That’s all I’m conscious of.

Yes, some of the marks, besides the asemic writing and calligraphy are similar to phosphenes.  Phosphenes are which are what you see when you rub your eyes. It is now thought that these phosphenes influenced prehistoric art.

I’m often asked about my artistic vision. Honestly, I don’t have an artistic vision. I know this is not at all the stuff of a good artist interview but, I’m not going to lie! One of the reasons I stopped titling my work is because they are just sequential efforts. Perspiration as a beloved instructor used to call the work of art.

As for inspiration.It’s more of a need or, a drive to release something or, as my best friend Paula and soon to be wife says, “Go paint and get whatever it is out of your system!”  For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set.

Every time I think that I’ve finally found the answer to what my vision is, what inspires me, I get real excited. And then when I go to write it down in this journal – it totally escapes me. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 90

Composition & Narrative – Yin & Yang?

 

The artist is always beginning.

Any work of art which is not

a beginning, an invention,

a discovery is of little worth.

Ezra Pound

 

FHV #10 – 2017 [30” x 40”] Acrylic on canvas
Think about the great paintings of the past; those from the Renaissance to Neoclassicism, for example. As far as I’m concerned, as a painter, Art represented a given belief system.

It communicated that belief system’s narrative. Most Christian, Catholic and pre-Protestant concepts are based on symbols, icons and a visual narrative.

The great works of the Renaissance were contained within a mystical compositional structure. The composition alone in these masterworks is absolutely phenomenal.

It was the evolution of ancient Greek thought combined with sacred Geometry and perspective. All of this occurred before the advent of the camera.

With the camera and other modern inventions and innovations, painting began to drift away from religious themes to the everyday or common subject. No longer did art focus on communicating a religious narrative.

It did however, celebrate Nature (spiritual in itself) and everyday life and occurrences. I don’t know about other abstract painters but my work has no intended narrative. It also doesn’t have a conscious or intended message of any kind. 

They don’t say anything because I have nothing to say. I’m just doing. I don’t make reproductions of things but rather, make something. The paintings are what they are based on the elements that I used to create them while exploring and investigating composition and the visual problems that arise while executing them. 

The great art historian Ernst Gombrich, which I’ve quoted often, said, “All artistic discoveries are discoveries not of likenesses but of equivalencies which enable us to see reality in terms of an image and an image in terms of reality.”

My images are their own reality. Who appreciates my work? The kind of people that truly appreciate and are looking for an equivalent image they can relate to for whatever reason. 

The (re) interest in abstract painting is surging. Perhaps it is because our society requires that we deal with our reality through images that match the reality we crave. Abstract art allows us to see our reflection and to reflect on what we see.

I’m still struggling, if I may use that term, to understand why I do what I do. I do, however, still believe that there is something very mathematical at the root of all of this. Both art and math are concerned with balance, patterns and relationships.

Viewers appreciate my imagery with their eyes but they also respond to those images emotionally. Being an abstract painter also, in my opinion. requires me to attempt to explain what it is and why it is that I do it.

I also feel that many non-artists believe that not enough effort goes into an abstract painting. What they don’t understand or realize, is that the work is in the decision making process rather than in the process of objective painters; copyists of reality.  

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 89

Chasing Shadows?

 

Every artist dips his brush

in his own soul, and paints

his own nature into his pictures.

Henry Ward Beecher

 

MNO #1 - 2017 - 40x40cm - 16x16 in

MNO #1 - 2017 - 40x40cm - 16x16 in
Picture 1 of 10

MNO #1 - 2017 - 40x40cm - 16x16 in

Michelangelo once said that his subjects lived in the stone. He released them. I was just glazing a piece and was thinking how I like to think that no emotion enters my work.

I am just a visual problem solver, a finder of relationships and equivalencies. I too, do nothing more than scrape away the cold dead whiteness the hides the images I reveal.

Trying to keep it monochromatic. Keeping it simple. Too many colors are noisy. Monochromatic color schemes are less noisy – light, dark and neutral (complimentary/grays).

The noise comes from associative color repetition. Staying mindful of scale. Less is more!

Opening myself up to some synergy. Michelangelo said, “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”

Am I chasing shadows? Perfection. Where are you?

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 88

The What Versus Where of Marks.

 

Invention, it must be humbly admitted,

does not consist in creating out of void,

but out of chaos.

Mary Shelley

 

Marks are marks. But, what is a mark? A mark is a line, symbol or representation that stands out in contrast to its surroundings. They may, in fact, be something that does not belong.

Marks are not images. Marks are used to create two dimensional illusionary images. Picasso said that, “every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” A mark or series of marks, in the beginning of every painting or drawing destroys the virginal two-dimensional field. 

DRAWING 5G – 2012

The “where” a mark is, is important. Very important! The “where” is factual and based on proximity and alignment. The “mark” is either in the center of the focal plane or in any of the four quadrants.

The brain interprets marks lower on the picture plane as closer and, those above, further away.

The “what” is interpretive, associated with sensation and perception based on experiences. It’s important because “where” something is found usually determines “what” it is – guilt by association!

One of the greatest associations is a horizontal line. The brain immediately “sees” it as a landscape horizon. So that’s why the proximity and alignment of marks are important. 

The “what” is based on contrast and repetition. While, the “where” creates visual groupings (associations), compositional structure, tension/stasis, focal points, animated directional flow… Marks that are repeated are important to structure and create pattern and rhythm.

All marks have a purpose. There are intelligent marks and not so intelligent marks. What’s the difference? Intelligent marks have life, stored up kinetic energy. They can mimic movement, direction and so much more. Less is more – too many marks spoil the composition!

Only the marks that have something to say in relation to contrast such as in near or far, big or small, light or dark and so on, belong. All other and extraneous marks are just visual noise.  Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

 

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 87

The Eternal Presence of the One Creative Act?

 

Synchronicities are cystallizations

in linear time of a nonlinear,

acausal, atemporal process,

windows into the realm outside of time

and space, a world in which we

ourselves are active participants

in and of “the one creative act.

Paul Levy, the author of Awakened by Darkness

 

How does consciousness function? How do we go about translating archetypal images and symbols between virtual reality and reality itself?

What are archetypal images and where are they? They are symbols or motifs that occur over and over and across cultures and ages. They are the result of patterns of behavior where objects or symbols are copied or emulated.

Jung believed an archetypal image was an unconscious idea that is inherited by the collective and that it is universally present – through our DNA perhaps? In Platonic philosophy a stereotypical image refers to the pure form that represents or embodies the characteristics of the thing it represents. But, what does this all mean? 

How does something evolve into an archetypal image and how does it get passed on? How does it migrate through the layers of this consciousness and how does it gain insight and awareness unto itself?

Like a line from a Twilight Zone introduction, how does “perception and the dimensions of awareness reach cognitive organization – the mind – and, how does it affect our behavior?” I recently heard the term worlds of awareness. These worlds of awareness are in the unconscious just below the surface of the conscious mind. It’s how humans grasp information when they’re not thinking about it.

John Trudel, Native American poet and writer (1946-2015) said that at, “…some point, the descendants of the tribes of Europe no longer knew what it meant to be a human being. They just didn’t know – they didn’t want to know. So the descendants of the tribes of Europe, in the end, had to love what they feared which was there to possess them…” 

They had to love what they feared which was there to possess them, is to me is an interesting phrase in itself. If fear is a vulnerability, then we are plagued by constant urgency and doubt. We can never advance from the point where we stand. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg.” Humans have invented, developed or created devices to help them cope. These devices, or symbols, have become archetypal.  

I struggle to understand not what I do but why I do it especially when a piece of work or a series of works such as the B Series Paintings (above) come out the way that they do. According to Paul Levy, the author of Awakened by Darkness, “…synchronicities are moments in time in which there is a fissure in the fabric of what we have taken for reality and there is a bleed through from a higher dimension outside of time.”

He goes on to say that, “…they are moments in time when the timeless, dreamlike nature of the universe shines forth its radiance and openly reveals itself to us, offering us an open doorway to lucidity.” I sometimes feel that’s what happens to me when I paint. 

Jung himself said,  “Continuous creation is to be thought of not only as a series of successive acts of creation, but also as the eternal presence of the one creative act.” The eternal presence of the one creative act

What’s archetypal about the B Series Paintings? They are as American philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910) described as Archetypal Synchronistic Resonance. “We are moved by observations of the earliest resonances and imprints from infant stages of human development…” (Analytical Psychology: Contemporary Perspectives in Jungian Analysis)

Paul Levy said that, “Synchronicities occur when we step out of the personal dimension of our experience and access what is called the archetypal dimension of experience.” I don’t know, am I getting closer?

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 86

START – CONTINUE – STOP!

 

I have no fear of making changes,

destroying the image, etc.,

because the painting has a life of its own.

Jackson Pollock

 

FHV #9 – 2017

Lee Krasner said, “Painting… in which the inner and the outer man are inseparable, transcends technique, transcends subject and moves into the realm of the inevitable.”

The first mark is very difficult. It is an act of destruction. It shatters the void of an empty canvas. 

Where it is placed determines the beginning of your journey. It is alone and has no character unto itself except for the intelligence of the mark itself.

An intelligent mark is alive! It is vibrant! it possesses a kinetic energy. It’s ready to come alive but it needs a partner. The execution of the second mark is much more difficult.

It creates a relationship with the first through, as Robin Williams calls it, C.R.A.P. It will compete with the first mark or ally itself with it through the contrast of size or the illusion of near or far or, light or heavy it has created.

FHV #6 – 2017

Where it is placed in relationship to or contrast with the first mark will also be determined by its proximity (near or far) and how it aligns (alignment) itself on the picture plane (high, middle or low). Repeating this mark (repetition) signifies its importance; why else would we repeat it?

The final mark in any piece is perhaps the most difficult because it signifies the end. It’s time for closure. It’s time to stop. Sometimes, stopping is much harder than starting!

 

Jackson Pollock said, “It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.”

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 85

THE DEFAULT NETWORK?

 

What goes on in abstract art is

the proclaiming of aesthetic principles…

It is in our own time that we have

become aware of pure aesthetic considerations.

Art never can be imitation.

Hans Hofmann

Well, it seems that abstract art is way beyond the opinion of some that a three-year-old or a chimpanzee with a paint brush can do it. According to leading brain scientists – it’s much more than that! 

FHV #4 – 2017

Art critic Carl Einstein said in 1926 that abstract art put an end to, “the laziness or fatigue of vision. Seeing again had become an active process.”

I’ve been reading Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel’s Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures. In it, Kandel writes about Marcus Raichle’s 2001 discovery of the brain’s default network.

This network is active when we’re at rest and suppressed when we’re not. We’ve all experienced this when daydreaming.

This default network only kicks in when we find what we’re looking at to be very appealing

It’s at its most active when we have a high aesthetic experience such as looking at, well, abstract art. It seems, “a person’s taste in art is linked to his or her sense of identity.” 

When I paint, I sense or have a lot of experiences or insights that I cannot explain. That’s why I try to document or pin them down in these art journals. In the book, New York art critic Nancy Princenthal describes (2015) abstract art as:

To be abstracted is to be at some distance from the material world. It is a form of local exaltation but also, sometimes, of disorientation, even disturbance. Art at its most powerful can induce such a state, art without literal content perhaps most potently.

The activation of this default network is somehow related to our sense of self.  Scientists are also looking into why some viewers or, beholders as they are referred to in the book, feel a profound sense of spirituality. 

Combined with this default network is the Construal-Level Theory of Psychological Distance. The theory is based on thinking styles and psychological distance where as, things nearer to us, “such as images of people and objects that we experience as here and now, are seen as concrete. 

Things that are not, here and now seem more distant. These (abstract) things increase our creativity.

Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein said, “I think we’re much smarter than we were. Everybody knows that abstract art can be art, and most people know that they may not like it, even if they understand there’s another purpose to it.” 

In my own experiences, intellectuals are more attracted to my work as are spiritual people. I’ve always wondered why.

I’ve also noticed that one or two pieces in a group of  work are always pointed out or, that these pieces want to be purchased by different people in different places and at different times. The only connection is the work itself.

And so it goes… So much more to learn and do!

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 84

INNER VISION?

Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.

Pablo Picasso

 

FHV #2 – 2017

Jackson Pollock said, “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” I am an abstractionist. I don’t duplicate images from nature. 

My images are purely subjective. Mark Rothko said, “A painting is not a picture of an experience. It is an experience.”

My paintings are things, objects or icons. They represent nothing. There are no references from the external world in my work.

At the same time, there’s nothing internal in my work. It’s not about me being happy or sad or mad. I am not in any state of mind when I paint.

In fact, I am not mindful of what I paint. But, neither am I mindless. I am only aware of deciding what to do at any particular moment or stage in the painting.

I no longer approach the canvas with any intent or analytical or technical visual problem as I once did. The first mark sets the stage.

The second, the direction for the eventual outcome. That’s it! There isn’t anything interesting about me, my process or my inner vision. I don’t care about me being interesting, only the work that I do is important. It has to be solid and authentic.

FHV 3# – 2017

As for the so called artist’s “inner vision” – what is that? I’m not aware of any inner vision. I paint what I paint, perhaps because of who or what I am.

And yet, I don’t know who or what that is. All I know is that I am an abstract painter. When I paint I don’t think.

I guess it is about letting go and letting it be. At one time painting was about connecting to something or being a channel or medium – still not sure.

My route to success? My goal? It is as Picasso described. It’s simple. To make a living painting good paintings.

Sometimes a canvas will come up very fast. Other times, I paint myself into a technical corner. When that happens it’s because I’m confused because I’m in conflict with myself. 

My work is easy to understand because it’s not complex at all. Colors. Lines. Calligraphy. That’s it. There is no intended meaning. There is no message.

If viewers/beholders approach my work by trying to solve the ambiguity – what is it – objectively? – they will never “get” what it may represent for them alone. There is no consensus as to what it is.

It’s better when they allow their imagination to free associate. They need to allow themselves to enjoy the work as is for whatever purpose it serves them. If anything, it’s more about sensation versus perception.

My work contains only what the individual viewer sees or finds when they approach the work subjectively in order to match their emotional state, aesthetics (taste) or just their personal opinion. Or maybe, it’ll just match their drapes.

FHV #1 – 2017

Those who admire or buy my work talk about how tactile it is. Art Historian Bernard Berenson said, “The essential in the art of painting [is]… to stimulate our consciousness of tactile values.” In fact, he coined the term tactile values.

The term describes the qualities in painting that, he believed, stimulated the sense of touch. Perhaps that sense of touch also equals possession.

For those who still cannot understand my work or abstract painting in general, I refer to the thoughts of William James (1842-1910), an American philosopher.

He said, “The first thing the intellect does with an object is to class it along with something else. But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens our devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique. Probably a crab would be filled with a sense of personal outrage if it could hear us class it without ado or apology as a crustacean, and thus dispose of it. ‘I am no such thing,’ it would say; ‘I am MYSELF, MYSELF alone.”

 

My plan then is to believe and to act as myself. As Popeye said, I yams what I yams and that’s all that I yams.” 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 83

Step-By-Step – It’s a Process!

I am trying to better understand how I process, as well as, my actual technical process. Why? Well, besides being a Virgo and a bit OCD, I want to become better at what I do.

This is a series of photos I took to record a painting in a series I did for Luis Villanueva, fellow painter and gallerist at the Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I actually do this for most of my work. I’ve also culled several quotes that reflect something about how I think and feel as a painter.

 

 

Robert Hughes – The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize. 

Doubt or insecurity or, are they one and the same? I don’t doubt myself. But, I do doubt the outcome of my efforts. It takes a lot for me to be satisfied with the end result. Great artist? I can’t be the judge of that.

Marcel Duchamp – I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.

This I do. I don’t want to be comfortable. I have been trying to get away from myself. Trying as it were to contradict myself. I sometimes feel I’ve boxed myself in. I’m trying to breakout. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I approach the easel. I let myself go only to come back again. 

 

Here’s the final piece… LV #2 – 2016

 

Friedrich Nietzsche One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. 

I do feel conflicted. I need to. I need to feel a sensation of fight or flight when I approach the easel. I’ll fight until I get myself out of a corner I’ve painted myself into. Or, I fly away if I feel no challenge or empty. Still trying to figure it all out. In the meantime, I try not to think – just paint! 

Patti Smith – The artist seeks contact with his intuitive sense of the gods, but in order to create his work, he cannot stay in this seductive and incorporeal realm. He must return to the material world in order to do his work. It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation. 

This intuitive sense of the gods. The white noise that either I need to or, I feel I am being beckoned to decipher.  The mystical communication is only something I am conscious of. I don’t dwell on it. Painting is work. It is a job. It has a purpose for the creator and the viewer. I guess what I am searching for is what that purpose really is and why was I selected as the medium to channel it.

 

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 82

Where Is God? Is It God that I See?

 

The position of the artist

is humble.

He is essentially

a channel.

Piet Mondrian

lis-3-2
LIS #3 – 2016

Where is God? God is everywhere! This was the first question and answer in my Baltimore Catechism book from parochial school.

Who is God? God is our Father! That was the second question and answer. A better question would have been; what is God?

As a painter, I really feel that I continue to deal with these philosophical and theological questions every day. Why? Maybe because I was brought up in the pre-Vatican II church or because I was instructed by nuns in catholic schools.

Pablo Picasso said, “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”

Ernst Fischer, the author of, The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach wrote that, “God is the collective.” So then, if God is the will, the desire or the need of the collective, we are therefore the god whom we created in our image; not the other way around. There is no external god. It has no gender. There is no Heaven. There is no Hell.

Oh, I know I’ve rocked the boat for some people. And, what does Art have to do with religion? Everything. Absolutely everything. Art was the original manifestation of religion. I was actually fired as an Art History professor because the atheists in the class complained that I interjected too much religion into the lectures. Let me put it this way, without Art, there would b no religion as we know it.

Obviously, there would be no Art without the need for the collective to believe in an organized manner. At this point, I believe I need to be perfectly clear – religion and belief are two different things. Religion is what you do. Spirituality is what you believe. One is faith; the other practice.

Art bridges the gap between faith and practice. So then, imagine religious practices as thatere. Try to accept the concept that here and now is all that exists. Or, does it? In the same train of thought, did the concept of forever originate in our individual and collective DNA? How about the collective consciousness – memory, or history for that matter?  

LV #2 - FINALThe term or concept of collective consciousness is about shared beliefs. It also encompasses the moral attitudes which both guide us and operate as a unifying force within society. The term was introduced by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim. But, what are beliefs? Perceptions are realities!

So, if this god is us, then godliness should be in us and we should therefor act or be godlike. The Eastern Indian greeting namaste is Sanskrit for, the god within me salutes the god in you. This god then, is not outward but inward.

It, this god, has the capacity to be or, it actually does exist in every one of us. And, because of that, evil is not a force or a presence but the absence of good. The good of the collective. The collective good.

How did Art get mixed up in all of this? Well, the primal, cultural and very human need for a god is, in actuality, the need for understanding. Art. Painting specifically, is an expression of the collective’s belief, it supports their understanding of that belief and and offers both guidance and the reinforcement of the required rituals and celebrations.

Religious imagery is a reflection of the collective’s needs. It connects the individuals within the group. It is their communion.  It is the representation of their unified wishes for success and survival based on their understanding of a higher power. Art is not just a handmaiden of religious belief; it is the equivalent of religion.

Alfred Stieglitz photographed abstract images that he equated with his experiences.  His thoughts, and emotions were captured with the theory of equivalence in mind. The theory was the subject of discussion at Gallery 291 and was fueled by Kandinsky’s ideas.

Kandinsky believed that colors, shapes, and lines were a reflection of the inner vibrations of the soul. Stieglitz called his cloud photographs Equivalents. Abstraction was a modern art idea at the turn of the twentieth century.

Stieglitz said, “My cloud photographs are equivalents of my most profound life experiences, my basic philosophy of life. All art is an equivalent of the artist’s most profound life experiences.”

Picasso said, “There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”. 

And if any of this makes sense to you so far that a “god” or, God, if you prefer, is within each of us; then so is Art. One of our defining characteristics as human beings is the ability to create Art. It’s almost impossible not to. Archaeological evidence supports the fact that humans, since as far back as has been discovered, have made or used the basic components of Art such as line, flat shapes, color and pattern to either reproduce in image or to produce, as concept, the world around them and the world as they saw it, experienced it, interpreted it and understood it.

lv-3-2016This evidence dates back about 30,000 years. Art was both a practical function of their physical survival, as well as, their emotional and spiritual needs as individuals and as members of their clans and tribes.

I believe it’s about the innate need for order. Not as we know O.C.D to be but more the result of dominant right brain orientation.

Trying to pin the origins of Art through creative or artistic behavior is, in my opinion, the same as rationalizing the presence of a god or gods. Art was both an individual endeavor as it was a communal function of the collective. Individually it existed as body decoration from tattoos, to piercings, to scarification and hair style, decoration and the use of beads and other jewelry. 

What is very interesting to me, as someone who experiences entopic phenomenon, AKA visual floaters, as the result of two cataract and retinal detachment surgery, is the similarity of these floaters with the primitive markings. And, I have somehow, subconsciously or otherwise, included these same marks and entopic experiences as expressions in my own work.

Artists almost universally used patterns from zig-zag, to spirals, parallel lines, as well as, crisscross patterns. They may be seen on artifacts and cave walls, as well as, the human body. These almost universally employed marks are a phenomenon considering the range and span of settlements and cultures 30,000 years ago.

In Art & Artists; Creative Urge and Personality Development, Otto Rank wrote, “Thus, at the very commencement of human development – then indeed, in far greater measure than subsequently – we have the unreal element as the decisive factor which led to expression in art. But if religion is originally unreal, and the (psychologically speaking) equivalent love-experience at the other end of the scale is predominantly real, art stands in the middle, realizing the unreal and rendering it concrete.”

“In doing so, it merely follows a universal law of development… that human development consists in a continuously progressive concretization of phenomena that were originally purely ideal or spiritual. In this sense the whole of cultural development is an artistic, or at least artificial, attempt to objectify human ideologies …The essence of art, however, lies precisely in the concrete representation of the abstract”

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 81

New Country. New Home. New Life. New Paintings!

 

They always say

time changes things,

but you actually have

to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

Finally! In the second half of my life and changing things as they need changing. Half of my time is spent on the business of Art. The other half is painting.

I couldn’t be happier! This is the first of several necessary videos to introduce me and my work here in Portugal and elsewhere in Europe.

 

Galeria O Rastro

Rua da Liberdade, nº 14

3080 – 168 FIGUEIRA DA FOZ

+351 964 239 608 / 233 411 188

rastro@galeriaorastro.com

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 80

Progress Report from Portugal…

I’ve completed ten paintings in less than two months. Feeling positive about my work, my progress, sales, and exhibition opportunities to follow. Rome wasn’t built in a day…

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 79

An American Abstract Painter in Portugal…

 

Bilbo said, “It’s a dangerous business,

Frodo, going out your door.

You step onto the road, and if you

don’t keep your feet, there’s no

knowing where you might

be swept off to.”

JRR Tolkien

What does that mean? I am an abstract painter from the United States who has been swept off to the Iberian Peninsula. Its not a statement, it’s a description. It’s now been 2-months and 20-days. I live on the Silver Coast (Costa de Prata) of the Portuguese mainland in the village of Praia de Buarcos in the city of Figueira da Foz.

lv-4-5
LV #4 – 2016

Life here is very pleasant. And simple enough as most things are here. The summer was beautiful. We’re slipping into autumn as the sun retires earlier and there’s a slight nip to the air.

It’s already rained here more times than it has all summer and the count is still in single digits. I must admit, I was expecting some serious changes in my work just by virtue of living here.

Maybe there have been some changes, but I haven’t noticed them. I haven’t been swept off my feet. Well, in a very unexpected way I have been!

As with anywhere on Earth, making a living as a Painter is difficult. The only difference is, that here, Art and artists seem to have a lot more respect. 

I guess I unknowingly followed Steve Jobs advice, “Your time is limited,” he said, “so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 

I followed my heart and my intuition and I don’t regret it. This week I was at the CAE – Centro de Artes e Espectaculos (Center for the Arts and Performances) in Figueira and saw this tag: If you can, don’t wait. se-puderes

For the first time in my life, when people ask me what I do or what I am, I say, “I’m a painter.”

It feels so good to say that. I’ve waited forty-years to say that. And, my heart and intuition are in the right place and on the right track. 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 78

A Look At My Self

Flaubert

For an artist there is only one thing:

to sacrifice everything to art. He must

regard life as a means, nothing else,

and the first person he dismisses is himself…

Flaubert

How do I explain my process? In the beginning there nothing.  Only a blank canvas. If creation is the child of destruction, then my first mark is the destroyer of the nothingness of the blank surface in front of me. Placing that first mark is a random act. A leap of faith. A shot in the dark.

The spontaneous gesture is defined only by its placement. It is alone in its universe. Its position, color and size are meaningless. It is the second mark that is the most difficult of all to execute. It now determines contrastIt is the creator mark. Once it is given life, it is either in competition or, in harmony with the first mark – the destroyer.

lv-3-2016
LV #3 – 2016

The second mark will either be in alignment with, in proximity with or in contrast to the first mark. Together they begin to destroy the blank nothingness of an unblemished surface in order to create. Who am I in all this? Where am I in all this? I am the medium, the guide and the conscious of these marks and those to follow.

We are inseparable. Together, we create with no specific or defined objective. There is no reason, no purpose; except to continually solve the visual/math problem that we are confronted with AND the addition of every mark that follows.

Music is Mathematics heard. Art is Mathematics seen. The balance and harmony of Mathematical principle is what solves these visual/math problems. With no preconceived direction: I am I. A filter, a conduit; a host. I am nothing without them. As they are nothing without me. 

We create it; the painting or drawing. It is what it becomes. And, it becomes what it is. There are no boundaries only greater visual/mathematical challenges. Without the constraints of what I like, what I think; what I feel.

There is no consciousness of fact. There are no consequences of preconception. It becomes; and it evolves with each viewer’s gaze and consciousness. It is either something –  stimulating thought or emotion – or, it is nothing and of no consequence. What am I looking at? asks the viewer. I don’t know what you see say I because I don’t know how you look at things.

Who am I in all this? Where am I in all this? I am a painter of nothing. What I paint is subjective. Subjectivity exists in the mind of an individual. It is about equivalencies. It may be a personal or shared experience. Subjectivity is associated more with the thinking (subjective as relating to the properties of color, shape or composition). Objectivity seeing (looking at an object) as a specific and distinguishable thing – a likeness.

I paint therefore I am. I can do no more. Why do I paint? What good is a painter today? What is a painter’s purpose? What is my purpose? What do I contribute? Do I have value? What is that value? Where do I belong? No, this isn’t whining – this is questioning! Where is my place in this world? 
 
I am the medium of these marks, And, what does a medium do? Straddle the place between creation and destruction – the place and time in between the placement of those marks. I’ve quoted Ernst Gombrich many times and once again here. He said that, “All artistic discoveries are discoveries not of likenesses but of equivalencies which enable us to see reality in terms of an image and an image in terms of reality.” 
 
Equivalency in math speak is: a binary relation that is at the same time reflexive, symmetric and transitive. A binary relationship is ordered pairs of elements such as in Robin Williams’ C.R.A.P. Principles of Graphic Design.  Contrast: light, dark, etc. Repetition: sameness, duplication, etc. Alignment: position, placement, etc. And, Proximity: how close or how far things are in relation to each other, etc.
What you see in my work is real. What you’re looking at may not be!

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 77

Authenticity in Art. Is It That Important?

 

All truths are easy

to understand once

they are discovered;

the point is to discover them.

Galileo Galilei

Starting way-back in time – 10,000 years ago – the fire circles of our Paleolithic ancestors mimicked the shape and the path of the Sun, the Moon. The palm of the human hand, perhaps more so than the thumb or any of the fingers did more to advance and make the world of the right-brained visible to the community. 

If you take mud or wet clay and bounce it in your cupped hand – it becomes a sphere. Think of what spheres and circles represent – life – the Sun, the Moon and the stars. Perception and Truth in eastern cultures is circular; cyclical, and repetitive.

Things are not always what they first appear to be. Western culture thinks and acts in more of a linear fashion, Vertical lines represent one axis and symbolize male-ness. Horizontal lines represent horizons, paths and symbolize female-ness. In the more circular logic of the East, it is more about cause and effect. For example, Nature affects human affairs and human behavior finds response in Nature  – it is what is referred to as correlative resonance. 

Representation is a portrayal of a person, place or thing. While symbolism is an expression that represents or suggests ideas, emotions or a state of mind. Our perceptions, whether circular or linear evolve with the addition of knowledge and experience. Truth is not always about absolutes. It’s more about consensus or conformity which sometimes overrides physical and immutable facts or reality.

Reality is perception.  Our perceptions sometimes require verification.  The verification must remain indisputable in order to be considered truth. Authenticity! Being authentic; true – not false. Original – not copied. Something whose origin is unquestionably supported by evidence.

Evidence?  Verification of its true nature or belief. That’s why unauthentic art  stands out, and not for a good reason. Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” 

LV #1-2016
LV #1-2016

Helene Hegemann, a German writer, director, and actress said, “There’s no such thing as originality, only authenticity.” I don’t duplicate images from nature.  Instead, I create subjective images.  I prefer to think of my paintings as things, objects or icons, rather than representative of things.

I am an abstractionist. The reality of my work is in its perception. It doesn’t matter what I wanted or what I was thinking. It does matter thought who is looking at, studying, scrutinizing or appreciating the work. The work, whether an entire body of it or a single piece, doesn’t require a declared verification. However, that verification becomes indisputable when and if the work is possessed either physically – through a purchase or, with expressed, genuine appreciation.

There is a holy trinity – if you will allow – to authenticity or authentication and that is, 1.) the intent of the artist, 2.) the work itself and, 3.) the viewer’s unbiased reaction. In order to be considered truthful or authentic the work must remain true and not false.

Artists feel they have to be original. They do not want to create a copy of someone else’s work or concept or style. Being conscious of this drives me to be as truthful to myself as to what I’m hoping to accomplish than anything else. Picasso said, “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”

And I ramble on in search of the truth and authenticity!

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 76

Where Am I and Where Am I Going?

 

I am not afraid of storms

for I am learning how to

sail my ship.

Louisa May Alcott

I promised my friend Luis Villanueva, artist, gallerist and owner of Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the first few paintings that I made here in Portugal. These two aren’t chronologically the first. However, they are the first of a series of, what else, I’m in Portugal, exploration and discovery

LV #1 - Final 8-2016
LV #1-2016

I’ve been struggling to move on. [click on images twice to enlarge] I want to break out of the tried and true. I’ve attempted that several times in the past with some success. I’ve also noticed a pattern of several themes I’ve developed or reverted to over the years. It’s sort of a duck – duck goose curse.

This first piece, LV #1-2016, is a mixture or a blend of a couple of these themes I’ve played with. The color or, the palette is vexing me. Why? Maybe it’s because I expected something different living here in Portugal. I know it’s just about two months but I somehow thought something very noticeable would happen by now.

There is something going on. I usually let my work tell me what to do or where it wants to go. I’m still confused. When it came to the second piece, LV #2-2016, I thought it was going to beat me. It was on the one hand, coming up fast.

But, on the other hand, it was coming out too furniture store or, LV #2 LGsafe. And, again, I wasn’t nuts about the palette. Then again, I’m running low on paint and, I’d prefer to work monchronmatically. Color is a challenge because it brings in so many other elements.

The next one is already on the easel and I’m just going to be totally loose – no usual regimentation. I am going to, well, just do it. I’m going to let go of my good sense because, as Picasso said, “The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense.”

It’s a hard thing to do – surrender – that is. Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.”  The rest of the greats are also encouraging me to keep going:

“You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.”

– Georgia O’Keeffe

“If I knew what the picture was going to be like, I wouldn’t make it.”

– Cindy Sherman

“Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks.”

– Mark Rothko

“It isn’t until the painter has no idea what he’s doing that he makes good paintings.”

– Edgar Degas

All I want to do is to be authentic. To be truthful to myself. And, even when a patron or a gallerist requests something of me; to take up the challenge to the best of my ability – even though it may not be what I want, I will still maintain something of myself in the work.

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 75

What is a Painting and, What is Painting Really?

 

A painting – before being a warhorse,

a naked woman, or some story or other –

is essentially a flat surface covered with

colors assembled in a certain order.

Maurice Denis, French painter

 

I told a very good friend that I wanted to do a painting for her. This friend means the world to me! She already has a couple of my pieces in her collection. When she brought home those pieces, her roommate said, “That’s love – nobody just gives away their work!”

Khalil Gibran wrote, “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”  In the same poem, On Work, he wrote, “When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?”

I had no idea what I was going to do. I don’t paint messages. I don’t paint things. And, even though I’ve been told my work is very emotional; I paint with no emotion. I’m simply trying to solve a visual mathematical problem. So, if my work is not a representation of anything then it’s just a decoration. Why do we decorate our homes with Art, antiques, found objects, souvenirs and items that represent memories?

PEB #1 - 8-2016
PEB #1-2016

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that, decoration is, “something that adorns, enriches, or beautifies.” An ornament – something that lends grace or beauty. [click on images twice to enlarge] This is PEB #1-2016 and it goes back to my landscape/field painting theme for lack of a better description.

The horizontal line is a very interesting thing. The moment you place it on your canvas or paper it begins to define a landscape. It’s the pull of the horizon. What is it about the horizon – tomorrow? A promise? Something better? According to symboldictionary.net  a horizontal line, “…represents the path from birth to death, beginning to end, and linear time. This axis represents life on earth as a binary, linear process – life to death, beginning to end…”

The horizon symbolizes dreams and aspirations. We all want things to be better and any possibility of change may hold the promise of improvement. According to this author writing about Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, the horizon is mentioned in the opening paragraph. “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.”

PEB #2 - 8-2016
PEB #2-2016

I find that to me, at present, painting is about letting go. As a Jesuit instructor I had in college said, “I went into the seminary to become closer to God and he ended up further away from me than where I started. He only came back to me when I let go.”

This is the second and totally unintended painting (PEB #2-2016) I did, side-by-side with PEB #1-2016. Both these pieces were about surrendering to whatever the outcome was going to be with no preconceptions. They were gifts for a friend. I had never painted a piece specifically as a gift.

Now writing about it, it’s all starting to make sense! Bede Griffiths (1907-1993) was a British clergyman. He wrote, “I was being called to surrender the very citadel of my self. I was completely in the dark. I did not really know what repentance was or what I was required to repent of. It was indeed the turning point of my life.”

Repentance means to turn. Am I turning from? Am I turning to? Perhaps I’m looking towards the horizon and the possibilities it offers. Horizontal lines define the width of the painting. They stabilize the composition. They evoke both the elements of proximity (near/far) with alignment (depth – deep or shallow). They are reflective of the vistas the earth offers us and how they make us peaceful and relaxed. Then again, a painting is, “…is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order,” right?

 

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 74

Well, Here I Am in Portugal – Now, What?

 

It’s never too late

to be what you

might have been.

George Elliot

In three days, on September 8th, it’ll make two months since I moved here. Although I moved here for other reasons, it just struck me that I am now – officially that is – a working artist. What does that mean? That means, as a man who owns a cafe here asked me last year, “Are you a showing painter or a selling painter?” Well, I’m a selling painter.

I now have a gallery here in Figueira da Foz – the Galeria O Rastro – and, it seems, many more opportunities than I ever had back in New Bedford. I’ve heard tell of a “fresh start” where you’re allowed to begin over. Well, my experience here so far has been that I now have the opportunity to start my painting career – after a delayed start of 40-years – something I’ve never had before.

I’ve already produced seven paintings, secured a gallery and have a very real opportunity to exhibit at the Centro de Artes e Espectáculos da Figueira da Foz (Center for  the Arts and Performing Arts) or, the CAE (ki) as they refer to it here.

PT - #1 8-2016
PT #1-2016

[click on images twice to enlarge] This is the first piece I did (PT #1-2016) of three specifically for the Galeria O Rastro. It seems in Portugal, or around here anyway, works on paper are seen as not being serious enough. I did three canvases – to order – at the request of gallerist, gallery owner and evolving mentor Rui Beja Da Silva. He wanted me to jump off from my blue paper drawing series – specifically this one…

drawing-6a-2012
DRAWING-6a-2012

 

It was a bit odd since I kept thinking that I was making a copy, of my own work but as a painting. He wanted me to stay away from a monochromatic scheme. “Our patrons want colorful paintings,” he said. I like to work on a monochromatic scale, it’s is a lot easier for me and I believe my imagery lends itself to it. A poly-chrome palette  is much harder! Ah, but there was the challenge and I like aesthetic challenges.

I took the challenge on and produced the three. These two… (LEFT: PT #2-2016 and PT #2-2016) came next. I’m still fighting with myself on the manner and method of execution on the subsequent works but, I can handle it.

PT - #2 8-2016
PT #2-2016
PT - #3 8-2016
PT #3-2016

Has living here affected me or my work. You be the judge. Too soon to tell. I did have a flashback to my first year in grad school at the University of Miami though.

 

My paintings then also seemed to have the same tone. There’s more work in ARTIST’S JOURNAL NUMBER: 75 and it seems to be going somewhere.

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 73

Form is the manifestation of the state of equilibrium attained at a given time.
The inherent characteristics of content are movement and change.
We might, therefore, though it is certainly a simplification,
define form as conservative and content as revolutionary.

Ernst Fischer – The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach 

For me, it’s always about getting down to basics…

Just jotting down a bit of a ramble that I had to put on paper. This time it’s about: form and content.

Form or specifically the elements of line quality, colors and shapes, even the size of the work, are what communicates its impact.  And since my work does not represent any subject, any difference in content is hopefully the result of the form.

DRAWING 3B - 2012Content on the other hand is usually an attempt to portray something and/or the actual success, based on viewer reaction or comment, in doing so. Regardless of the attempt or the execution, the viewer will react to it based on their immediate and past experience NOT what I the artist supposedly meant to portray or actually portrayed.

And, in my case, I never intended to or meant to portray or actually portrayed anything. I only made decisions regarding the form, its elements while hopefully maintaining some principles of design.

It really is all C.R.A.P. as defined by Robin Williams in her book. Why then does it take such of a leap in imagination to understand the concepts behind what I do or how I do it?

It really is as simple as can be. My work is about nothing and yet each piece is something.

The content within my work is not influenced by my emotional state, spiritual stance, religion, past or current politics or, for that matter society in general. It simply is what it is because I made it so.

Burt Bacharach’s A House Is Not a Home kind of always conveyed, to me at least, a good example for form and content.

A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight…

One person’s chair is another’s prison. A house to one is a home to another.

Ernst Gombrich said that, “All artistic discoveries are discoveries not of likenesses but of equivalencies which enable us to see reality in terms of an image and an image in terms of reality.”

Mondrian, spoke of the …possible disappearance of art. Reality would, he believed, increasingly displace the work of art, which was essentially a substitute for an equilibrium that reality lacked at present. “Art”, he said, “will disappear as life gains more equilibrium.”

Interesting word equilibrium. It is, according to dictionary.com, “a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.” The forces of form – balance versus content as change.

Gombrich also said, “One never finishes learning about art. There are always new things to discover. Great works of art seem to look different every time one stands before them. They seem to be as inexhaustible and unpredictable as real human beings.”

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 72

Material goods, capable of being marketable, sellable, and collected…

In an article in Art and Education, Dan Zimmerman wrote, Art as a commodity embodies intangible concepts and ideas by transforming them into material goods, capable of being marketable, sellable, and collected… The economic system assigns monetary value to instruments that through general consensus, are considered to be of  ‘worth.’

The art market, similarly, is a system that revolves around inanimate objects given a degree of legitimacy, often by the monetary price an art object assumes by its transactions within the economic sphere. Through these transactions the object may immediately attach to itself ‘selling points’ of intellect, of reputation, of cultural relevance, and even resistance; qualities that are difficult, if not impossible to define under any system of measurement…

TITLE: 4-E – 2015 DATE: 2015 MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas SIZE: 16″ x 20″
TITLE: 4-E – 2015 DATE: 2015 MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas SIZE: 16″ x 20″

There is a need within art to maintain a degree of accountability within its own market to ensure that the value is not only determined by those collecting the physical artworks.

Quoting from our Manifesto (Luis Villanueva and Ron Fortier), “Art is the artist’s perspiration. It’s the result of the process of solving conceptual or visual problems. The process becomes, in some cases, more important than the final product. Art is work. Work is process.

The perspiration of this work is the product. The product is the art. And, art is a commodity – something that is bought and sold; something or someone that is useful or valued.”

What Luis and I have attempted to then then with this, my last show in town or, the United States for that matter, is drain the South Coast Art Lake. This so called Art Lake contains not just the unsold perspiration of the South Coast’s visual artists, it also contains the flotsam and jetsam of all of the art found in antique and thrift stores.

We had hoped to remind local artists, using this show (October 17th to November, 7, 2015) at the Colo Colo Gallery in the south end of New Bedford, that their art has an intrinsic value, it exists, if for no other purpose as simply an object in and by itself – wholly for its own sake – perspiration!

There are many potential art buyers in the South Coast whose appreciation is larger than their wallets. A few of them may be curious about the possibility of the instrumental value of the art they admire. This type of value is based on who created it, originality (not just of style but how many are available) and when the work was created and made available for sale.

Let’s review those points. Number One – who created it. Well, that comes down to whether the artist is known or unknown which translates into how much exposure, such as the number of exhibits listed on the artist’s resume, critical reviews and whether the artist can be labeled as emerging (brand new to the market), established with a record of sales success to prove it or emeritus (as I call it) less productive and leaning on their past success.

Number Two – originality does concern style but perhaps more important – is the piece original? – there are no reproductions and if there are, how many are available. Number Three – is about when the work was created – early in, in the middle of or at the end of the artist’s career. Of course, which century or what part of the century and, when the work/collection was made available for sale.

Where do I fit in this commodity profile?  Number One – who created it – I am unknown with an interrupted exposure timeline. Life, specifically the bad luck of bad economies since the 1970s. Therefore the number of exhibits listed on my resume, along with any critical reviews stretched out over forty years endows me with the (still) emerging label.

Number Two – as for my originality, other than the references to Cy Twombly, I would hope my work has some originality.  However, Phillip Sherrad in his essay in Studies in Comparative Religion Art and Originality said, “When we call a work of art original or say that it possesses originality what we generally mean is that either it introduces some new and unfamiliar subject matter, or it involves new and unfamiliar techniques, or it does both. Innovation in one form or another is for us the hallmark of originality; and one of the factors, if not the main factor, that conduces to our calling someone an artist is that his work displays originality in this sense.”

So then, whether or not I am in some way original is not for me to say but rather to aspire to. And finally – Number Three – most of the work in this current show was created recently between 2011 and 2015.  The other work in my personal Art Lake was created from 1975 to 1980 and if compared to my most recent work may have more or less value based simply on the buyers expertise or opinion.

What’s the difference in my opinion? My recent work is not titled but rather cataloged. I no longer seek themes. I am not replicating nature, opinions or emotions. The work is as it is for what it is and as  Gustave Flaubert (1821 – 1880) said, I have become, merely a recording apparatus for sensory perceptions. …No theories! 

I believe that I have no right to express any opinion with my art. As I said in my Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 42, “Yeah, lots of times I’m working and thinking, I know this… this means something… this is important and the result is what it is.  And although sometimes I feel like I’m getting closer to whatever this important thing is, damn it, when will I finally know?”

How did our little experiment work? The show closes on Saturday, November 7th and will feature a talk by local arts critic Don Wilkinson who described the work in one of my shows as the, “…scribbling of a lunatic…calligraphy of an alien…and the symbols of a mad meteorologist…” It’ll be your last opportunity to own an, “…original, one of a kind painting suitable for any decor…”

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 71

NOTE: This started off as an attempt to help me articulate viewer experiences of my work but it sort of got away from me.

Experiencing an Image…

We know for certain that sight is one of the most rapid actions we can perform. In an instant we see an infinite number of forms, still we only take in thoroughly one object at a time.

Supposing that you, Reader, were to glance rapidly at the whole of this written page, you would instantly perceive that it was covered with various letters; but you could not, in the time, recognize what the letters were, nor what they were meant to tell.

I was reading Albert Gleizes’ and Jean Metsinger’s Cubisim essay in Modern Artists on Art (Robert L. Herbert).  Two things happened.  They may have been correct on this excerpt from Leonardo da Vinci’s (in italics) notebooks as a defense of Cubism. What struck me the most was how I’ve always interpreted the way the Mona Lisa was to be best appreciated but, that’s me not you or anyone else.

Mona_LisaTo me, every time you look at one section or another of the painting, it changes.  Leonardo, and not Cezanne, Braque or Picasso may well have discovered the principles of Cubism.  Leonardo continues…

Hence you would need to see them word by word, line by line to be able to understand the letters. Again, if you wish to go to the top of a building you must go up step by step; otherwise it will be impossible that you should reach the top.

Here’s where I went off the intended track: Yes, we all know this but… There were two phases of Cubism.  Phase One was Analytic Cubism due to the manner in which an object was analyzed by breaking it down into fragments or pieces.  These fragments were then spread out on the canvas by combining two or more views of a single object at the same time and, into one view.

The Egyptians had accomplished this same technique thousands of years earlier in their quest for completeness by showing a profile outline with a frontal eye and a different view point on the legs. You see it so much in their art, you don’t realize that they deliberately stylized their figures that way.

The Cubists got their inspiration from African tribal art that had been on display (at that time) in Europe. The art had been brought to Europe by missionaries and explorers.

Picasso and Braque used solid, primary and secondary colors to fill their “fragments” without shading that you would normally find in previous representational art of the preceding centuries. That was the Analytic or first phase.

The second phase, Synthetic, was a totally new art form. We call it collage. They used scraps of paper and stenciled images of letters and words. Where as Analytic broke down an existing image into different facets. The Analytic approach built up an image by using pieces of other things to describe it.

Thus I say to you, whom nature prompts to pursue this art, if you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of objects begin with the details of them, and do not go on to the second [step] till you have the first well fixed in memory and in practice. And if you do otherwise you will throw away your time, or certainly greatly prolong your studies. And remember to acquire diligence rather than rapidity, wrote Leonardo da Vinci in What Rules Should Be Given to Boys Learning to Paint.

Explaining an Image…

10-C – 2013
10-C – 2013

Hopefully, here I’ve returned to my original intent: Andre Malraux said, “Art must not, if it wants to come to life again, impose any cultural idea upon us, because everything humanistic must be excluded from the start.” Boy, how I have tried to be true to that statement.

While discussing my work and answering the questions of prospective buyers during the opening of my recent show at Colo Colo Gallery (October 17 to November 6, 2015) I felt as if I had to explain my approach in a way that wasn’t so simplistic that it actually became complicated.

Um, it really is simple but, articulating simple things such as in answering a three-year-old’s question as to why you can see the moon during the day (scientific answer: Because you can) can get quite complicated.

My work has no emotional or political basis. As much as the landscape seems to appear in my work, it doesn’t use landscape as a jumping off point. I do not title my work – I catalog it. It does not represent anything except itself.

Ernst Fischer wrote, “I have tried, very briefly, to illustrate by means of an example how a new set of subjects , new forms of expression, a new style are evolved as the result of changes in social content. But I am fully aware that I have had to oversimplify. A new social content never expresses itself directly but only obliquely, and any attempt at a sociology of art must, unless it is trivial and frivolous, take this obliqueness into account.”

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 70

IMG_20151017_165723_079Here’s the entire Manifesto (combined from Artist’s Journal: NUMBERS 65, 66 & 67) all in one post. At this posting time, my paintings are selling well after just two days since the opening on Saturday, October 17th at the Colo Colo Gallery. I am exhibiting with ceramicist Meaghan Gates.

The Show runs from October 17 to November 6, 2015. The point of Colo Colo Gallery owner Luis Villanueva of selling all of my work for $100 each serves several purposes besides putting our money where our mouths are.

We hope to sellout the show and most of my inventory, reducing my participation in the “South Coast Art Lake”, get my work “out there” and prove that the average South Coast resident does appreciate art that they can not only live with but afford as well! 

Does Art Make Money or, Does the Price Make it Art?

“Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh boat. There’s no trip so horrible that someone won’t take it. The idea of the unrecognized genius slaving away in a garret is a deliciously foolish one. We must credit the life of Vincent Van Gogh for really sending this myth into orbit.”

That was an excerpt from Rene Ricard’s Art Forum (December 1981) essay The Radiant Child. It continues, “I mean, how many pictures did he sell, one? He couldn’t give them away. He has to be the most modern artist, but everybody hated him. He was so ashamed of his life that the rest of our history will be contribution to Van Gogh’s neglect.”

I love that essay. I’ve quoted it many times. But I guess it also thrills me that Rene Ricard was a South Coast resident. I’ve always wondered if he got his perspective on art here.

Art is the artist’s perspiration. It’s the result of the process of solving conceptual or visual problems. The process becomes, in some cases, more important than the final product. Art is work. Work is process.

The perspiration of this work is the product. The product is the art. And, art is a commodity – something that is bought and sold; something or someone that is useful or valued.

Art as with any other commodity, is a good or service. Its wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (as brand name) other than price. Art is a commodity subject to ready exchange or exploitation within a market.

Artists are also a commodity of the art industry. Ricard reflected on it. “We are no longer collecting art we are buying individuals… When the work tops a certain mark and the collectors begin their wholesale unloading of your old work in direct competition with your new work you’re in trouble with no protection. Every time one of your old paintings is bought one of your new paintings isn’t…”

He pondered, “What is it about art anyway that we give it so much importance? Artists are respected by the poor because what they do is an honest way to get out of the slum using one’s sheer self as the medium. The money earned, proof, pure and simple, of the value of that individual, the artist.”

The art industry is composed of businesses and individuals who buy and sell art. It’s really no different than the sex industry. Don’t say no – it is! Regardless of the circumstance, the price paid or the actual point or intent of the purchase. Paying for either is the exchange of one value for another. So then, does the more you pay indicate higher value or greater social acceptance?

This manifesto of sorts grew from a conversation my friend and fellow artist Luis Villanueva had. We came to the conclusion that art should be treated as nothing more than a commodity; regardless if it’s spelled with a capital A or not.

We were discussing what may be the unintentional exploitation of local artists. We were wondering how much art is actually being sold locally. And, we wondered if anyone knew what the local creative economy represents in actual dollars? No – neither Luis nor I are presenting a conspiracy theory.

What we are doing, however, is bringing to light what has been allowed to become an acceptable notion that it is okay to ask artists to give their work away for the greater good. And, if art needs grant funding, why should it be expected to be given away?

Markets in general are regulated by supply and demand; it is a fundamental concept of economics. In the creative economy, the supply is created by artists. Therefore, it is not the art that is important, it is the artist. E. H. Gombrich, the art historian said, “There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.”

If perception is reality, then the perception of sorting artists into artists spelled with a capital A who produce Art and those uncapitalized (yes, a pun) who produce just art must be altered or, at best, reinvestigated. From our discussion, Luis and I seem to have developed a manifesto that centers on three points.

POINT ONE: Art has essentially remained the same for the last 10,000 years. It’s the artist that changes or is changed by the market. The real problem is a general and erroneous perception that lumps all art and artists together and, worse yet separates them by those spelled with a capital A and those who are not.

New, young, unknown and, not yet emerging artists cannot compete with those who are recognized and sought after. In the meantime, these artists need food, shelter and clothing as everyone else does. They need to be paid for their art.

To some, being an artist seems like a lot of fun. But work is work regardless how your professional title is spelled. Payment is its own reward. No one is doing artists any favors by convincing them to give away or donate their work to charitable causes. Giving them exposure is not the same as giving them money.

Asking an artist to give away (it’s not the same as donate) their work indicates that the artist and their work represent something of value. Why else would the individual representing the organization that is planning on selling or raffling off donated art be doing it?

How does this really benefit the artist? If it was to benefit local artists or, a particular individual artist in need, then it might be okay but we haven’t seen that happen yet.

The South Coast was recognized as the seventh most creative area in the United States in an Atlantic Monthly article. Does that mean artists can afford to give away their work? Ernst Fischer, the socialist author of The Necessity of Art, wrote, “If you can’t pay for a thing, don’t buy it. If you can’t get paid for it, don’t sell it. Do this, and you will have calm and drowsy nights, with all of the good business you have now and none of the bad.”

POINT TWO: There is huge art lake that exists in the South Coast. This is no phenomena, it is a reality and it also exists everywhere else in this country. An art lake is a term I’ve coined to describe a situation similar to the European Union’s wine lake. The wine lake is a continually growing supply of surplus of wine.

There are several reasons for this surplus of wine predicament. One is related to controlling supply in order to stabilize prices and control the market demand. Another contributing factor are exceptional harvest years.

What about the South Coast Art Lake? It also comes down to price and market control. There are just so many local galleries serving a finite demand for art locally. It’s not easy for an artist to seek and find representation beyond the South Coast. It takes time, money and relentless commitment.

Our vibrant art community would certainly benefit from an increase in demand. To handle the uptick, the number of galleries would need to increase. The more galleries, the more artists represented. With more artists represented, more art is created and theoretically sold.

But to increase demand both the pricing structure and consumer pricing perception needs to be redefined. Pricing as the market will bear (consumer feedback) is usually reflected by the overall or seasonal supply and demand situation. However, there is currently enough unsold art stored or stashed under beds, in closets; attics, basements or garages to handle the market transition. A majority of the art product would be supplied by the unknown artists are at the low-end of the art commodity market.

POINT THREE: First, this is not self-serving; it is an experiment that I am willing to personally conduct. That’s why, at my Luis’s Colo Colo Gallery (17 October – 6 November 2015), all of my work, all one hundred or so paintings, will be priced at $100 each. Selling my work for $100 will serve several purposes; I hope to sellout the show and most of my inventory, reduce my participation in the South Coast Art Lake and get my work out there.

Yes I could always use the money. And, if I sell all one-hundred paintings to one-hundred people, there will not only be one-hundred more people who own one of my paintings; their acquaintances will now also be familiar with my work.

If demand increases, so will the price. But, if I have to raise prices to stem some of the demand, will that also indicate that my work is now more valuable? That’s how the stock market works.

Speaking of which, in the fall of 1967, there was something called the Times-Sotheby Index. It was, as are other perceived revolutionary ideas, the product of evolutionary changes. Art was seen, perhaps for the first time, as a commodity according to Anthony Haden-Guest who wrote True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World(1998).

Art is a commodity, albeit, a very different type. Yes, “…a pound of sugar is a pound of sugar, whereas a Picasso can be early or late, a revolution or a doodle, studio-fresh or a ruin.” All of these factors drove what became, “…a sort of Dow-Jones index of the art world”.

Ah, but it was short lived. Not because it didn’t work but because it made art as dirty as sex for sale. Ernst Fischer wrote in his seminal book The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach (1970), “Capitalism is not essentially a social force that is well-disposed to art or that promotes art: in so far as the average capitalist needs art at all, he needs it as an embellishment of his private life or else as a good investment

That said, closer to home, many of the more well-known artists in the South Coast (a touchy subject for another day) are those who are fortunate enough to be employed as college instructors. They can fortunately afford to maintain professional studios.

The many other, unknown artists unemployed within their profession cannot do the same. They, however, try to sell their work at a price compatible with the more well-known artists who are able to charge more for their work.

It’s just market economics. The South Coast’s art market’s participants consist of the buyers and sellers who, as anywhere else, influence prices. What’s going on here is a bit more than the basic market forces of supply and demand however. Art is, as Fischer wrote, “…subjected more and more to the laws of competition.

There’s the art itself. What about art that is far too “modern” for a more traditional South Coast market? Or, what about art that is oddly too traditional for more “modern” tastes or sensibilities?

The South Coast is not (yet) home to or, an affiliate of any major or big city gallery. Galleries at this level are presently not within the reality of the current South Coast art scene. And, it’s not because the caliber of the art is not on par with the art in the larger metropolitan cities. It’s the lack of population density for one thing.

CONCLUSION: Art and money will always be inextricably linked it seems. Money represents wealth. Art prices in larger city galleries are higher because demand is higher. The price of a piece of art isn’t necessarily tied to its aesthetic quality or, even its intrinsic value.

The intrinsic value of an object is in itself or, for its own sake. The instrumental value, however, is reflective in the artwork itself for various reasons including who created it, how many are available and when it was created or made available to the market. It is also dependent on how much it will appreciate.

Obviously, there are buyers out there who buy art based more on its potential to appreciate rather than an appreciation for art. In other words, if a work is considered at some point by a collector to be undervalued and has the potential to gain value, it’s more than likely a good investment.

Rene Ricard said, “In this town, one is at the mercy of the recognition factor. One’s public appearance is absolute. Part of the artist’s job is to get the work where I critics) will see it“ with a little help from the art gallery of course.

What Luis and I want then, is simply this, to significantly drain the South Coast Art Lake. We want to convince artists that no one is doing them any favors by convincing them to donate their work. And, that the caliber of art being created here is worthy of greater attention and appreciation. Although success has its challenges, we’re willing to face them.

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 69

1-E – 2015Following up on my thoughts in regards to artist’s statements (Artist’s Journal: 68) and, attempting to define what or how it is that I do what I do, I’ll leave it to Gustave Flaubert (1821 – 1880) and his thoughts about the subject:

The artist is merely a recording apparatus for sensory perceptions. …No theories! Works… Theories corrupt men… We are a shimmering chaos. I come in front of my theme I lose myself in it…

The artist has no right, “to express his opinion on anything no matter what. Has God ever expressed an opinion?… I believe that great art is scientific and impersonal… I want neither love nor hatred nor pity nor anger…  

2-E – 2015Here are two of my latest works which are included in my upcoming show at the the Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford from October 17 to November 6, 2015.

The opening reception is on Saturday, October 17 from 5 to 8 PM.

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 68

Cave Art 1Artist Statements!

Really? Have you ever read one – all the way through?

I’ve tried to read the artist’s statement at every opening I’ve ever been to. And, with one exception, Lasse Antonsen, never make it to the end.

Not only do I read all of Lasse’s statements – I ask for a copy! But here I am preparing for my next show(16 October – 7 November 2015) at Colo-Colo in New Bedford and I just can’t do it.

Why? What’s the purpose of an artist’s statement? Want to know about my art – ask me or read these journals.

I’m still a point where I just paint for some still unrequited need. I don’t title my work. My work has nothing to do with my state of mind when I am painting.

I believe I have the ability to write and write well. A few grammarians may argue.

When I paint, I don’t thing about the painting but rather about painting.  Think of it.

Painting was perhaps the first form of human communication.  Who spoke? Language was still developing.

But painting was something else.  Okay, for the record, when I say painting I mean any intelligent marks rendered in the dirt or scratched on a wall with a burnt stick and, eventually, applied pigment.

Ever wonder why the earliest paintings were far more sophisticated looking?  It’s because language was in its infancy. As language developed paintings become cruder.

I think everyone painted. Making marks conveyed information.  It was used for instruction and for record keeping such as in tracking the sun, the moon and stars.

And, eventually, the better painters were sought out.  Because of their skill, these individuals became mediums of sorts.  These intermediaries became tribal shamans.

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.

Pablo Picasso

So, from my point of view, painting is very closely associated with spirituality.  As we evolved from wandering tribes in to city-dwellers, art was both reflective of the collective and of the system that governed them.

Art was public!  Mostly sculpture. Painting was mostly reserved for decoration as far as we know.  The Egyptians, however, used painting to record events and to describe the lives of their kings.

Art, specifically painting, came to the front with the rise of Christianity. The guilds controlled the economies of Europe.  The wealthy merchants were memorialized.

They also commissioned work for churches in an attempt to save their earthly souls.  The bigger the Church and governments grew, the larger the paintings.

Then a curious thing happened.  A movement arose to counteract the neo-classicism of the day called Romanticism.

Coupled with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Western Capitalism, painting both devolved and evolved.  It devolved into a visual mush controlled by both church and state.

These long-established tables were turned full round with the advent of the railroad and prepared painting pigments in tubes.  Anyone now could paint as evidenced by the so called: Sunday Painters in France.

I’m going to continue this ramble in the next Artist’s Journal…

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 67

Part Three of a three-part post continued from Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 65

POINT THREE: First, this is not self-serving; it is an experiment that I am willing to personally conduct. That’s why, at my next show at Luis’s Colo Colo Gallery this fall (17 October – 6 November 2015), all of my work, all one hundred or so paintings, will be priced at $100 each. Selling my work for $100 will serve several purposes; I hope to sellout the show and most of my inventory, reduce my participation in the South Coast Art Lake and get my work out there.

Yes I could always use the money. And, if I sell all one-hundred paintings to one-hundred people, there will not only be one-hundred more people who own one of my paintings; their acquaintances will now also be familiar with my work.

If demand increases, so will the price.  But, if I have to raise prices to stem some of the demand, will that also indicate that my work is now more valuable? That’s how the stock market works.

Speaking of which, in the fall of 1967, there was something called the Times-Sotheby Index. It was, as are other perceived revolutionary ideas, the product of evolutionary changes. Art was seen, perhaps for the first time, as a commodity according to Anthony Haden-Guest who wrote True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World (1998).

Art is a commodity, albeit, a very different type. Yes, “…a pound of sugar is a pound of sugar, whereas a Picasso can be early or late, a revolution or a doodle, studio-fresh or a ruin.” All of these factors drove what became, “…a sort of Dow-Jones index of the art world”.

DRAWING - A-SERIES - 1
DRAWING – A-SERIES – 1

Ah, but it was short lived. Not because it didn’t work but because it made art as dirty as sex for sale. Ernst Fischer wrote in his seminal book The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach (1970), “Capitalism is not essentially a social force that is well-disposed to art or that promotes art: in so far as the average capitalist needs art at all, he needs it as an embellishment of his private life or else as a good investment

That said, closer to home, many of the more well-known artists in the South Coast (a touchy subject for another day) are those who are fortunate enough to be employed as college instructors. They can fortunately afford to maintain professional studios.

The many other, unknown artists unemployed within their profession cannot do the same.  They, however, try to sell their work at a price compatible with the more well-known artists who are able to charge more for their work.

It’s just market economics.   The South Coast’s art market’s participants consist of the buyers and sellers who, as anywhere else, influence prices. What’s going on here is a bit more than the basic market forces of supply and demand however. Art is, as Fischer wrote, “…subjected more and more to the laws of competition.

There’s the art itself.  What about art that is far too “modern” for a more traditional South Coast market? Or, what about art that is oddly too traditional for more “modern” tastes or sensibilities?

The South Coast is not (yet) home to or, an affiliate of any major or big city gallery. Galleries at this level are presently not within the reality of the current South Coast art scene. And, it’s not because the caliber of the art is not on par with the art in the larger metropolitan cities. It’s the lack of population density for one thing.

CONCLUSION: Art and money will always be inextricably linked it seems. Money represents wealth. Art prices in larger city galleries are higher because demand is higher. The price of a piece of art isn’t necessarily tied to its aesthetic quality or, even its intrinsic value.

The intrinsic value of an object is in itself or, for its own sake. The instrumental value, however, is reflective in the artwork itself for various reasons including who created it, how many are available and when it was created or made available to the market. It is also dependent on how much it will appreciate.

Obviously, there are buyers out there who buy art based more on its potential to appreciate rather than an appreciation for art. In other words, if a work is considered at some point by a collector to be undervalued and has the potential to gain value, it’s more than likely a good investment.

Rene Ricard said, “In this town, one is at the mercy of the recognition factor. One’s public appearance is absolute. Part of the artist’s job is to get the work where I critics) will see it,“ with a little help from the art gallery of course.

What Luis and I want then, is simply this, to significantly drain the South Coast Art Lake. We want to convince artists that no one is doing them any favors by convincing them to donate their work.  And, that the caliber of art being created here is worthy of greater attention and appreciation. Although success has its challenges, we’re willing to face them.

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 66

Part Two of a three-part post continued from Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 65

POINT ONE: Art has essentially remained the same for the last 10,000 years.  It’s the artist that changes or is changed by the market.  The real problem is a general and erroneous perception that lumps all art and artists together and, worse yet separates them by those spelled with a capital A and those who are not.

New, young, unknown and, not yet emerging artists cannot compete with those who are recognized and sought after. In the meantime, these artists need food, shelter and clothing as everyone else does.  They need to be paid for their art.

To some, being an artist seems like a lot of fun.  But work is work regardless how your professional title is spelled.  Payment is its own reward.  No one is doing artists any favors by convincing them to give away or donate their work to charitable causes. Giving them exposure is not the same as giving them money.

Asking an artist to give away (it’s not the same as donate) their work indicates that the artist and their work represent something of value.  Why else would the individual representing the organization that is planning on selling or raffling off donated art be doing it?

How does this really benefit the artist? If it was to benefit local artists or, a particular individual artist in need, then it might be okay but we haven’t seen that happen yet.

The South Coast was recognized as the seventh most creative area in the United States in an Atlantic Monthly article. Does that mean artists can afford to give away their work?  Ernst Fischer, the socialist author of The Necessity of Art, wrote, “If you can’t pay for a thing, don’t buy it. If you can’t get paid for it, don’t sell it. Do this, and you will have calm and drowsy nights, with all of the good business you have now and none of the bad.”

POINT TWO: There is huge art lake that exists in the South Coast. This is no phenomena, it is a reality and it also exists everywhere else in this country.  An art lake is a term I’ve coined to describe a situation similar to the European Union’s wine lake. The wine lake is a continually growing supply of surplus of wine.

There are several reasons for this surplus of wine predicament.  One is related to controlling supply in order to stabilize prices and control the market demand. Another contributing factor are exceptional harvest years.

What about the South Coast Art Lake?  It also comes down to price and market control.  There are just so many local galleries serving a finite demand for art locally.  It’s not easy for an artist to seek and find representation beyond the South Coast. It takes time, money and relentless commitment.

Our vibrant art community would certainly benefit from an increase in demand. To handle the uptick, the number of galleries would need to increase.  The more galleries, the more artists represented.  With more artists represented, more art is created and theoretically sold.

But to increase demand both the pricing structure and consumer pricing perception needs to be redefined. Pricing as the market will bear (consumer feedback) is usually reflected by the overall or seasonal supply and demand situation. However, there is currently enough unsold art stored or stashed under beds, in closets; attics, basements or garages to handle the market transition. A majority of the art product would be supplied by the unknown artists are at the low-end of the art commodity market.

Please continue to Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 67 when published…

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 65

PLEASE NOTE: This manifesto is in three parts divided over three posts, this one, Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 65 and Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 66 and 67

Does Art Make Money or, Does the Price Make it Art? “Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh boat. There’s no trip so horrible that someone won’t take it. The idea of the unrecognized genius slaving away in a garret is a deliciously foolish one. We must credit the life of Vincent Van Gogh for really sending this myth into orbit.”

That was an excerpt from Rene Ricard’s Art Forum (December 1981) essay The Radiant Child. It continues, “I mean, how many pictures did he sell, one? He couldn’t give them away. He has to be the most modern artist, but everybody hated him. He was so ashamed of his life that the rest of our history will be contribution to Van Gogh’s neglect.”

TITLE: 3-E – 2015 DATE: 2015 MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas SIZE: 16″ x 20″
TITLE: 3-E – 2015 DATE: 2015 MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas SIZE: 16″ x 20″

I love that essay. I’ve quoted it many times. But I guess it also thrills me that Rene Ricard was a South Coast resident.  I’ve always wondered if he got his perspective on art here.

Art is the artist’s perspiration. It’s the result of the process of solving conceptual or visual problems. The process becomes, in some cases, more important than the final product. Art is work.  Work is process.

The perspiration of this work is the product.  The product is the art. And, art is a commodity – something that is bought and sold; something or someone that is useful or valued

Art as with any other commodity, is a good or service. Its wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (as brand name) other than price. Art is a commodity subject to ready exchange or exploitation within a market.

Artists are also a commodity of the art industry. Ricard reflected on it. “We are no longer collecting art we are buying individuals… When the work tops a certain mark and the collectors begin their wholesale unloading of your old work in direct competition with your new work you’re in trouble with no protection. Every time one of your old paintings is bought one of your new paintings isn’t…”

He pondered, “What is it about art anyway that we give it so much importance? Artists are respected by the poor because what they do is an honest way to get out of the slum using one’s sheer self as the medium. The money earned, proof, pure and simple, of the value of that individual, the artist.”

The art industry is composed of businesses and individuals who buy and sell art.  It’s really no different than the sex industry. Don’t say no – it is!  Regardless of the circumstance, the price paid or the actual point or intent of the purchase. Paying for either is the exchange of one value for another.  So then, does the more you pay indicate higher value or greater social acceptance?

This manifesto of sorts grew from a conversation my friend and fellow artist Luis Villanueva had. We came to the conclusion that art should be treated as nothing more than a commodity; regardless if it’s spelled with a capital A or not.

We were discussing what may be the unintentional exploitation of local artists.  We were wondering how much art is actually being sold locally. And, we wondered if anyone knew what the local creative economy represents in actual dollars?  No – neither Luis nor I are presenting a conspiracy theory.

What we are doing, however, is bringing to light what has been allowed to become an acceptable notion that it is okay to ask artists to give their work away for the greater good.  And, if art needs grant funding, why should it be expected to be given away?

Markets in general are regulated by supply and demand; it is a fundamental concept of economics. In the creative economy, the supply is created by artists. Therefore, it is not the art that is important, it is the artist. E. H. Gombrich, the art historian said, “There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.”

If perception is reality, then the perception of sorting artists into artists spelled with a capital A who produce Art and those uncapitalized (yes, a pun) who produce just art must be altered or, at best, reinvestigated. From our discussion, Luis and I seem to have developed a manifesto that centers on three points.

Stay tuned for Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 66

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 64

There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good- will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us.

David Hume

PAINTING - D-SERIES - 7There is no pareidolia – a Greek word for a psychological phenomenon where vague and random images such as clouds or grilled cheese sandwiches are perceived as something of greater significance – in my work.

I do want it to offer the viewer a quiet sanctuary though.  The piece to the left is one of the newest in a series I began in July of 2014 – seven completed so far.

There is a gap in my work from October 2013 to July 2014 due to three unforeseen (sort of a bad pun) eye surgeries.  Two for cataracts and one for a detached retina.

I’m curious to see (another unintended pun of sorts) if there’s a difference in the work – especially the colors.

In the meantime, there’s been quite an effort on my part to make up for the lost time (October to April) recuperating from the surgeries on the marketing side of my life.

Marketing and advertising are still my bread and butter.  And, so it goes…

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 63

DRAWING - A-SERIES - 1
DRAWING – A-SERIES – 1

CHANNELING CY? I had an unexpected shock today.  José Manuel Durão Barroso, former Prime Minister of Portugal (2002 – 2004) and, at this posting, is the current President of the European Commission.  He said, “What people call serendipity sometimes is just having your eyes open.”

Well, talk about an eye-full?  I was emailing a new colleague and fellow artist David Richardson about his Artist Profile page on the new South Coast Artist Profiles website and was checking a link to his blog page when – Bam – right between the eyes – this Twombly drawing hit me!

TITLE: Poems to the Sea ARTIST: Cy Twombly
TITLE: Poems to the Sea
ARTIST: Cy Twombly

It was a bit of a shock as I said.  I was staring at a Cy Twombly.  Or, maybe more correctly, it was staring at me.  It was vexing me.  “Ah-ha – got you last!” or, “tag, you’re it!”

 

In the subsequent emails that David and I exchanged, he sort of convinced me to finally do what I’ve been avoiding all these years – to look at and read about Twombly.

I’ve written about Twombly here many times.  I know and, I’ve known for a long time that I’m afraid to look at the work and the life of the man that everyone has equated me with for nearly forty years.

FEAR – DAMN RIGHT IT’S FEAR – it’s a fear that I’m not authentic or original.  Benjamin Disraeli said, “Fear makes us feel our humanity.”  André Gide, the French author and Nobel Prize winner in literature said, “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”

I never thought of Cy Twombly as a monster.  But I have wondered how two people can be so cosmically connected.  To me and, maybe to me only it’s like looking in a mirror.  It’s exciting.  It’s creepy.  It’s annoying.

So, as one of the editors of the old New York City newspaper, The Sun, in his reply to Virginia, yes, that Virginia; Francis Pharcellus Church wrote, “Yes, Virginia… Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.”

My fear then, perhaps is in tearing apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside.  David said, “I guess you have two choices.  You can not look at him or you can look at everything you can find.  I chose the second.  I don’t remember exactly when I discovered him but I first saw a lot of his work at the Whitney’s Cy Twombly 50 Years of Works on Paper…”

He continued, “The thing about knowledge is you can’t go back to the garden so I think you really have no choice but to learn about him.”

I’ll end this journal entry and, begin my new commitment with this quote from the man who discovered one of the greatest archeological treasures of all time – the Tomb of Tutankhamen – Howard Carter.

He said, “It soon became obvious that we were but on the threshold of the discovery.”

Onward.  Forward.  Thanks David!

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 62

HORIZONS – Yes, horizons are usually equated with landscape.  And, as much as I try to be a pure abstractionist, someone always point to the landscape in my compositional structure.

As I write this, I continue to ponder E. H. Gombrich’s statement that, “All artistic discoveries are discoveries not of likenesses but of equivalencies which enable us to see reality in terms of an image and an image in terms of reality.”

I have returned to this statement many times.  I look at my work.  I am, right now, pinging and sounding my way out of a conceptual fog.  Or, maybe it’s more about resisting the tracker beam that seems to be drawing me to some unknown destination.

The work has reverted, I believe, from being iconic; meaning that they are painted things – not paintings of things, to being something which I continue to struggle against.  In this case, the thing it would be presumed, would be the landscape.

There’s also the battle of beauty and not beautiful going on in my head.  Too pretty and it’s decorative.  Not pretty enough and it communicates ineptness rather than a concept.

Even then, all I wish to communicate is simply a love for visual academic exercises.  No grand themes, statements or heavy pondering.

Yet, as much as it is my intent to resist painting something, the third object as Naum Gabo called it, something gets in the way.  It’s not pareidolia, a Greek word for a psychological phenomenon where vague and random images such as clouds or grilled cheese sandwiches are perceived as something of significance.

Back to Gabo – the first object is the object observed, the second is the object in the painter’s eye and the third is the interpretation or execution of the object on the canvas.  It is a challenge to paint nothing – Gabo’s second object – without a point of reference.

Salvador Dali said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” His sentiments were somewhat echoed by Mark Rothko, Adolf Gottlieb and Barnett Newman who jointly stated that, “There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing.  We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.”

The “primitive and archaic” X and scribble elements in my work seem to be the ever-present dust on the road of this journey of mine.  With that said, the horizontal element and structure of my compositions almost always have a (horizon) focal point.

So, aha!, the horizon is a symbol too.  And, if symbols may be said to be the same as equivalencies, and this I feel is supported by Gabo’s third object concept – then the horizon either represents where I want to be or, or it’s simply the touching point of sky and land.

More spiritually, it is the touching point of heaven and earth; a symbol in its own right.  This was driven home by a previous experience with genetic memory of my ninth great grandfather’s (Antoine Fortier) death as he slipped beneath the water of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec; his foot entangled in the anchor line of his boat.

Lately, in this last batch of paintings, I’ve been trying to focus on compositional scale and mark making only.  So far, I feel as if I’ve failed.  A few of the pieces are here…

The pinging, the surrendering to whatever is pushing or pulling me towards wherever I may end up continues.  I feel both possessed and dispossessed at the same time.  Looking at my work, I wonder, am I behind my contemporaries, in-step with them or ahead of what is considered au courant?

If I am behind, I can catch up to be a la mode.  Being in-step, however, for me, would be far worse.  Who really wants to be one of many?

But – if I was convinced by those that I both admire and respect that I am ahead of the pack – it would be both a blessing and a curse.  My friend and gallery owner Luis Villanueva asked my why this was important.

I have a need to know for which I know not why.  I’m not going to guess where I am right now.  But, I do know the horizon  beckons me to my easel…

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 61

“…the goal of art is to put the spectator in a state of a mathematical quality, that is, a state of an elevated order.

To conceive, it is first necessary to know what one wishes to do and to specify the proposed goal; to know if one wishes to settle for pleasing the senses,

or if one wishes the painting to be a simple pleasure for the eyes, or to know if one wishes to satisfy the senses and the mind at the same time.”

Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant’s “Purism (1921) – Modern Artists on Art, Edited by Robert L. Herbert

Is a piece of art tasteful?

What exactly does tasteful mean?

I got to thinking again about what Rex Brandt (1914-2000) wrote in his seminal instruction book, Watercolor Technique in 15 Lessons (1948 – Reinhold Publishing) that, painting is communication or decoration.  Communication is concerned with ideas.  Decoration embellishes a surface.

Decoration may be judged by the presence or absence of taste, which is as enigmatic as beauty.   The manner or method of communication may also be judged as tasteful or otherwise.

What is taste?  According to the dictionary, it’s all about… distinguishing the flavor of something by taking into the mouth.

It’s to sample by eating or drinking (sipping) a small quantity of food.  Taste is also about partaking of or, experiencing something, especially for the first time.

We perceive things by the use of our sense of taste.  We experience or enjoy or, partake either firsthand.  Ah, to taste of the life of the true artist!  How about the skill or ability in discerning what is, or what is not, aesthetically excellent or appropriate?

Some people, it is said have taste.  While for others, it’s all in their mouth.  Humm, a compliment for some perhaps and an insult to most.

But, is having taste a sense of what is proper or that which is least likely to give offense in any social situations or just good upbringing or manners?  Do you need taste to either appreciate or dismiss this old piece of mine?

No Title 10" X 12" Mixed Media on Canvas 1980
No Title
10″ X 12″
Mixed Media on Canvas
1980

Is it, …”a simple pleasure for the eyes”?  Does it, “…satisfy the senses and the mind at the same time”?

Here are some opinions of the luminarium of history about taste

Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man of great common sense and good taste – meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.
George Bernard Shaw

What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life.’  It is information, words, instructions.”                                                                                  Richard Dawkins

Taste cannot be controlled by law.
Thomas Jefferson

One cannot develop taste from what is of average quality but only from the very best.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last-ditch stand of the artist.
Marshall McLuhan

My favorite Art Historian Ernst Fischer said, “The usefulness of a work of art is determined not by its capacity to satisfy a determinate human need, but by its capacity to satisfy the general need that man feels to humanize everything he comes in contact with…

Art is the creation of objects that essentially satisfy only spiritual needs; that is, these objects are distant not only from direct, physical, immediate needs, but also from the practical needs that are satisfied by the products of labor.”

“…work for an artist is a highly conscious, rational process at the end of which the work of art emerges as mastered reality – not at all a state of intoxicated inspiration.”

Taste – try, experience and have a sense of what is right for you!

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 60

A long time ago, I became aware that many of us

have a tendency to lump nature into simplistic categories,

such as what we consider beautiful or ugly,

important or unimportant.

As human a thing as that is to do,

I think it often leads us to misunderstand

the respective roles of life forms

and their interconnectedness.

Gary Larson, American cartoonist and creator of The Far Side

 

IAN SHAY - Artist's HandI know better.  Never write when upset or, more so, when angry.

Never write when any emotion is piqued to the max.  But, damn it…

I am not expendable!  My discipline is not expendable!  My vocation is not expendable!

What has set me off is the recent news that the New Bedford School Department’s multi-million dollar budget error has resulted in the possible layoff of 250 employees or which, at least two-thirds are faculty.

How it got to that point is another story for someone else to rant about.  Of course, what and where to cut is being seriously considered.

And, as I have seen time and time again the Arts are on the cutting block.  Why?

The institutions and the curricula that formed me and others like me are not expendable!

The past, the present and the future of the Arts are not expendable!

Art is not a line item!  Art instructors are not line items!  Art programs are not line items!

Art is not just a nicety!  Art has a purpose and is as purposeful as any other subject or discipline.

Art is as integrated into other disciplines and subjects as Mathematics.  In fact, Art is a side of the same coin where Mathematics is found.

They both guide and teach us about harmony and balance of which, neither may be considered solely esoteric – separately and together.

Just when the trend from S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)  movement is gaining momentum and evolving and finally including what should have been a part of this right brain educational philosophy to begin with – Art, this happens.

S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) is, or is not a system, a philosophy or a pedology?  Yet, even at the early stages of this concept, Art is singled out.

Art, or more correctly, the Arts are not by definition, “of little significance when compared to an overall purpose, and therefore able to be abandoned.”   The Arts, its educators, students, practitioners and appreciators are not in anyway dispensable, unnecessary or unimportant.

And never, are they/we replaceable, nonessential or, inessential.  My Art and that of other artists here and now and, then is not, has not and will never be expendable!

Without getting into the history of it – at one time – we artists were the masters and not the slaves.  Look at us now…

I’m rewriting Larsen’s quote and replacing Nature with Art.  The meaning isn’t altered.  It’s intensified!

… many of us have a tendency to lump Art into simplistic categories,

such as what we consider beautiful or ugly, important or unimportant. 

As human a thing as that is to do,

I think it often leads us to misunderstand

the respective roles of the Arts and

their interconnectedness.

 

 

Artist’s Journal: NUMBER 59

“The individual has always had to struggle

to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.

If you try it, you will be lonely often,

and sometimes frightened.

But no price is too high

to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Yes, I’ll admit it.  I am a struggling artist.

I do not struggle with my art.  But, perhaps I struggle because of it.

I struggle to gain attention for my art.  I struggle to sell my art.

I once struggled to speak about my art.  But, that is no longer true.

I am afraid sometimes.  Is that a struggle of some sort?

I’m afraid that my work, or at least a piece here and there, will become what an old instructor once coined as furniture store art.

What is furniture store art?  It is decoration.

redo RAGGED & UNHOLY - 2011An American watercolorist named Rex Brandt (1914-2000) wrote in his seminal instruction book, Watercolor Technique in 15 Lessons (1948 – Reinhold Publishing) that, painting is communication or decoration.  Communication is concerned with ideas.  Decoration embellishes a surface.

He went on, It’s purpose is to delight the eye, awaken the fancy, excite the imagination – but not to tell a story.

Dolf Reiser, in his 1972 (Studio Vista/ Van Nostrand Reinhold Company) book: Art and Science – Modes of Thinking/Visual Perceptions and Artistic Vision/Art Forms in Nature/Art and the Unconscious Mind, wrote that:

In art, human feelings and emotions are expressed in symbolic form – colors and shapes are used to communicate meanings which can be conveyed only with difficulty in normal language.

I am an abstractionist therefore I struggle.  I struggle to be understood.  I struggle to be accepted – that’s when I get into trouble.

I use the words of others wiser than I because they help form who I am.  Becasue of this, I struggle to remain original.

Still, I follow the thoughts of my favorite art historian E. H. Gombrich who wrote in his classic text, The Story of Art, that:

…the Egyptians had largely drawn what they knew to exist, the Greeks what they saw; in the Middle Ages the artist also learned to express in his picture what he felt.

If I am a true practitioner of abstract art, then I paint all of the above based on what I know, what I see or have seen and what I have felt or feel and to that, I add  how I think.

That, is the crux of my struggle: How I think.  I’m as right brained as any other right brained individual, but…

It is because of this that I once struggled to survive.  And now, I struggle to thrive.

The brain’s right hemisphere is supposed to make me nonlinear, intuitive, and holistic.  It has also made me (or, am I wrong?) a bit OCD, ADD and who knows what else, with a tinge of some sort of dyslexia.

Dyslexia?  I get confused about locations especially.  I tend to see such a similarity  in certain pairs of landscapes, buildings or people that I can’t differentiate between the two.  Sometimes, in these circumstances, I have an overwhelming feeling of deja vu, which makes the task of differentiation even more difficult.

Hey look, we’re all screwed up to some point or another.  I think being an artist just makes me more aware of my thought processes.

So it is then that I struggle.

I struggle to sell my work.  I struggle to make a living directly from my art.

I struggle having to compromise constantly.  There’s an old wine adages that says that the more the vine struggles, the better the wine.

I’m not whining – just saying.   Einstein hits it on the head when he reminds me that, the daily struggle does not arise from a purpose or a program, but from an immediate need – cash and recognition NOW will give me the ability to continue to do this thing I’ve always thought I wanted to do all of my life.

Yet, the Buddha instructs me that life is struggle – stop craving and clinging and then I will be happy.

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