A picture is not thought out and settled beforehand. While it is being done it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it is finished, it still goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it. A picture lives a life like a living creature, undergoing the changes imposed on us by our life from day to day. This is natural enough, as the picture lives only through the man who is looking at it.
– Pablo Picasso
I have so many WIPs going right now, it’s actually getting a little out of hand. Ha, I kid.. but working this way does help with coming up with new and different solutions on the fly when new sorts of problems arise. Some days, it all gets to feeling scattered, as if nothing is connected. And the individual images alone sometimes also appear scattered and layered and pretty chaotic too. But these help me to work through that chaos and into a resolution by way of this process. Without sharing many of them with others yet, I’m definitely feeling the importance of making them just on my own and for myself. As I view them all around me in the studio these days, they’ve really started to develop into a growing new world for me to go exploring even more deeply into. I’m eager to share them because of what they’ve been for me and I hope to be able to connect with others about what that means. I’ve written about some of this in past articles including this one: Why Try New Things? which gives an outline for good reasons to experiment and try new things in our art and how that reflects in life overall.
I tend to work with many paintings going at once, which suits my temperament pretty well overall, and I’ve also found that it has me exploring new ways of working on a regular basis. Put simply, some days, I want to stand and move around, take a loose approach and use my whole body to make marks. Other days, I feel more like being more still and sitting while I paint to render tiny details or soften large areas of atmospheric cloudy and airy passages. These are just basic things, but the attention to purposeful image-building and being aware of our tendencies helps to break the boundaries for pushing past a comfort zone as well.
I’ve been told that my work tends to feel as if it’s still in motion and continuous. I think that may come from a few things. One could be this back and forth between the different paintings I’m working on at once, and the tendency to want to be moving in various ways as I’m working on them. And another could be that the paintings develop over time while morphing in new ways each moment I add to them. They are influenced by turning of events and changing of emotional states as they develop. And another reason even still could be that the paintings often describe more than one state of being at a time, and shapeshift between those states.
In these personal works, I’ve also really been enjoying connecting these worlds and realms of tangible and intangible, experience and unknown, sensations and visual vocabulary, and I really enjoy exploring different ways to share this too. If for no other reason, it’s been interesting in the discovery and translation and relaying of it in image form. I plan on sharing more about that in future posts, as these works will be on view in a solo show in the Fall at Copro Gallery. More on that coming soon! You can see a few of the pieces that will be in that show here and here..and here..
A lot of exciting stuff coming up, and meanwhile there are many things that also feel pretty chaotic too. I share this because I know I am not the only one feeling this, and that all of this is not really only about finished paintings. Right now, with most of this new work, it’s really been a great challenge for me, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about that soon. I often wonder what these WIPs will all be, but I know that no matter how chaotic it all feels, it’s all part of a cohesive and coherent whole that someday will reveal itself, if only by the pure and simple act of my gradually and decidedly calling them finished when I feel they are. And then moving on to keep searching and discovering more. That’s honestly what all of these new personal works are truly about for me.
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
– Arthur Schopenhauer
As I’ve been sharing my process through teaching, the question of why I paint the way I do comes up quite a bit. I think what’s being asked is more of a question of how I might’ve arrived at my ‘style’ or ‘technique’ of painting. Part of the answer to that does fold into what I mentioned earlier about the many WIPs I’ve always got going, combined with the feeling they portray of being in motion. But in this sort of process, for me, especially in the beginning stages of the painting it’s like a form of surrender that creates a space of equanimity for myself. I use it as a means to create, cultivate and improve upon a presence of mind. I used to go into the making of them with the idea that to start without a set plan would help me to release myself from any attachment to the result as it’s being made, with the intention that it might also help in other ways outside of art-making. At a quick glance or thought, this might seem like an easy enough thing to do, but then when painting, so many other aspects show up that really can get interesting… like just the simple fact of not having a specific set end goal to project onto its outcome and how that plays into its making, or what’s going on in our surroundings or outside world in any given moment, or other aspects of life outside of the making of the art, and what’s happening in our own thoughts, and that ebb and flow between flow state and conscious thought, there’s really no way – if we are fully immersed in the act of creating – to not be attached to the work we’re making. And that’s such an intriguing part about it. This sort of process does help with not being attached to results, though, but that actually shows up more in the life things that are happening simultaneously and are unrelated to the art.
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
– W.B. Yeats
All this to say that this equanimous state is not arrived at by only experiencing stillness but having experienced a balance of many emotional states, many of which are the opposite of stillness, and within those moments of painting, when making marks with the purpose of letting go and finding that balance, we might be faced with that as if looking into a mirror. Something we paint might be staring back at us with a solid purpose for us to discover and it’s up to us to be mindful of that. It’s a great challenge and it’s a release and it’s all things in between. It’s humbling and I’ve found there is always a lesson for me in there.
Perhaps wisdom.. is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.
– Anthony Bourdain
Well, with all the WIPs I’ve got going, I am quietly finishing some as well. Like this little painting in the images I’m sharing today. This one will be heading to the LA Art Show this week coming up. It will be in the Copro Gallery booth, sharing space with some phenomenal artists. It’s a small 5×7” oil painting on an Artefex primed panel. (brush pictured is by Trekell ). I personally won’t be able to make it to the LA Art Show this year, but it’s an amazing event that I really have enjoyed being a part of and going to in the past. There is a whole lot of art exhibited, with so many various genres and subjects and aesthetics. It’s always an eye-opening experience in some way.
Well, I will have more to share again soon as I continue exploring and discovering where this all will take me.