Nov 15, 2007

Coming to Terms with the Postmodern Age.

As you well know an artist can get away with anything these days. We keep trying to get away with more because everything has already been done and it has been done with incredible skill and beauty. I have had a profound dislike of minimalist art, DADA, and postmodern art for some time and am slowly learning to appreciate and even adore some of it.
It all started with Mondrian. I had to do a report on him for a design class. He had this Grey Tree painting that I loved and as I learned about the spiritual pursuit underlying his art I began to think it wasn't so pretentious. Then I watched a video about him, as they panned the camera through a gallery of his work I could feel the resonance not available in printed reproductions. Later I went to visit the minimalist art wing in the Portland Art Museum and discovered it was my favorite wing, all the pieces had a profound resonance. Agnes Martin made no sense to me in a book, but standing in front of her work I found it indescribably beautiful. I have heard from many people that they did not like Pollock until they saw his work in person, now they love it!
I still have trouble with the Postmodern and DADA aesthetic but after reading about the context they were born out of I can finally appreciate them as important movements. DADA being a reaction to the senselessness of war, the initial impulse to make art without reason or rules is inspiring but the destructive attitude that went along with the movement really puts me off. They wanted to obliterate everything previously held sacred or revered. While it's certainly worthwhile to deconstruct cultural assumptions the bitterness is hard to find attractive as an artistic aesthetic. I have only learned a little about it yet and may change my mind. These days it seems much of the art out there is either a dry imitation of something else, a forced attempt to do something unique for its own sake, or its very conceptual. So far I am not very drawn to conceptual art but my continuing education may change my mind on that, too.

The above picture is one of my first attempts at abstracting from an observed subject, the Columbia river. This painting at right is a small canvas I painted after looking at Paul Klee's work. I was using it as a warm up to try to get in a less structured spirit before I began work on another painting. I think I will continue to paint over it as a warm-up improvisation.

Nov 9, 2007

Soft. (book arts)

This book is made of handmade paper, a blend of Abaca, cotton and recycled paper. I really enjoyed designing this book. I made the inside pockets first then found a poem I thought would fit the format. I made the cover last. I sold this book last spring. Of all the books I've made this is my favorite and I was glad that it was the one that sold because I felt it deserved to more than any of my other pieces which are equally beautiful but not as cohesive. Before I went back to school it was difficult for me to think of parting with my art, even casual little paintings on sketch paper. I felt like I lived in a recycling bin, there was so much art stuffed in my closet and under my bed! Now I recycle things regularly and would gladly part with any of my pieces. Oddly enough, I feel I "have" this piece now more than ever because it has lived the full life of an art piece and now enhances someone else's life.

I decided to post this piece tonight because I was just out sketching trees. Afterward I went for a hike and I felt as if all the trees were being especially alluring in their windy branches and stark dusk light. It was as if they all wanted desperately to be drawn! Of course, I know this isn't true. They have been fine forever without any portraits and they will continue to be more content than I can imagine without my attention. So, I thought of this poem.

Nov 7, 2007

The Denial of Little P's Flight. (Intaglio)

Well, I'm not quite done with this print to the right but I want to post it anyways because in my world its a feat to get a decent aquatint unsupervised. Aquatint uses spray paint as a ground for etching. It covers just enough of the plate to make an even shade of grey without open-biting the plate (etching such a large ares it cannot hold ink.) I've had trouble getting an even coat that isn't too thin or too thick. The other tricky part is to render your shading in reverse, blocking out the light areas with a Sharpie pen. It hurts to think backwards like that. The original drawing is a line etch and I used white ground on top of the aquatint to get the gradations in the sky.
The main change I want to make is to lighten the bird up in the left part of the tree. You probably didn't see it did you, see what I mean? The title, The Denial of Little P's Flight is just a working title for now. The piece is about how we sometimes would rather deny the wrongdoings of someone important to us than to make them uncomfortable. We can also deny out own wrongdoings just to "save face" in the world. I don't know if I've conveyed that or not.
The other two pieces feel at a standstill to me
and I'm tempted to abandon them and move on to new plates. Sometimes when I try to correct a mistake it causes ten new ones. It's not easy to let go of a piece I put a lot of time into but I think it might be good to apply what I've learned to a new plate instead of struggling with an old one.

Nov 5, 2007

Fertile Paper.

So here's the finished product...I get a little enamored with handmade papers. I love getting up in the morning after making a batch to see if they are dry. It's just like a holiday with presents. Each piece is so different from the others and seems to tell its own story. In this case some pieces are busy with lots of frantic sperm trying to get to their destination, trying to be the select parcel of genetic material that gets to be expressed in an actual human being. Other pieces with just a few wayward sperm seem to be in some far reaches, having totally missed the meaning of their existence. They also look like microscope views.
I love all the inconsistencies, the one piece of blue lint or the wrinkle, the misshapen corner. They seem to have more character then the few pieces that turn out more perfect. Now I need to test them out to see what mediums can be used on them . I did use some sizing but its difficult to get enough in and not too much. Very scientific and since I am more interested in making new papers I rarely get a chance to perfect the science part. I think my paper had become boring then anyways, less inconsistencies.

Nov 3, 2007

The Virility of Paper 2.

Yesterday and today I made paper. Making paper is incredibly tedious but I love it! I felt a little out of practice and forgot to put the size in so I had to empty the vat back into buckets and start over.
I love the way paper looks when it is hanging up to dry and I have to admit I think its more beautiful wet then it is dry.

Nov 1, 2007

Works In Progress

Painting is hard. Just when you think all you have to do is paint the sky orange so that your piece is no longer dark and closed you find that the white figure disappearing behind the mountains, the grey stump and the dark tree no longer work. And is it any surprise? It used to be night and now it is dawn! It is still rewarding though. I'd post pictures but I'm not sure how I feel about posting works in progress, maybe later. Yesterday I started a new etching, I can hardly wait to print it. It is a departure for me in that I drew very loosely and did not have a drawing all planned out ahead of time, I worked from a rough thumb-nail sketch and a narrative in my imagination. We'll see what happens...