Monday, March 23, 2009

In the Moment

The problem with non artists is that they have a very illogically logical sense of the artist's process. Case in point for which I wish that I had a set of photos: text tulip watercolours. I did a set of 4 watercolours. Red red tulips wrapped in rice paper printed with a made up but realistic looking foreign script. I did throw in a few arabic phrases and Shalom in Hebrew but I was really going for something in an asian hand rather than asian block print. I only liked two of them. But as a whole they really worked.
The process here was as interesting to me as those in the previous post. The script flowed from my hands pretty easily. The tulips were more difficult. I used fresh flowers as my model so that I could get a good 360 degree view and understand what I was seeing. This is sooooo much better than working from a photograph, especially when working with a transparent medium like watercolors. So I had one portrait that gave me fits. And I should have stopped when I got mad. (Ego) But I forced the issue, did another layer of red glaze and flattened out the cup of the tulip. Grrrrrrrr. But again, as a whole, the set would pass inspection. My sister saw them and fell in love.
So she actually bought them (to help me pay for my car that month) after I put them in black frames. When she got home to Alaska, she showed them to a friend who has a gallery. They discussed making prints. But... AK is a bit light on those kinds of resources. So sister calls me and says paint more of them. What? Paint more of them? Her logic was that if I could do it once, I can do it again.
It isn't bad logic. But let me tell you why it is faulty logic and coincidently why art feeds the soul. Art is not Math. You can not aply a formulaic "if/then" statement (sorry Charlie) to recreating a piece of artwork like you can duplicate a building. The reason being is that even Fibonnacci cannot account for the infinitesimal nuances in each nano second of each minute from one session to the next to recreate a piece of artwork exactly as it is seen. Even the artist cannot do this despite the fact that it looks as though all the tools: artist, substrate, medium, temperature, humidity, lighting (natural and artificial), are the same. The thing that is different is the thing that actually makes the artwork work for the buyer. That is the moment in which it is made.
The moments in which the art is created are directly entagled with the final product. A moment today is never going to be identical to another moment. Amount and quality of sleep, the health of the body, the fluidity in the muscles, strength of the skeletal structure, emotions in those moments, quality of the artist's relationship to the Muse/Creator/God, mood that influences a music selection... it is all entangled (Charlie can 'splain it) with the artwork. I could never have duplicated the work itslef. I could have repeated the concept. But even then it would have been a shallow relfection of itself because of the very thing I remember most about the experience of painting those tulip portraits.
I was in the zone. My vision, that which is beyond visibility, was accute enough to see the subtlties with the paint flow in relationship to the face the model presented. I felt like the ink that created the "words" was an extention of me... my blood and soul said something in that made up language that I have not felt since. I truly think that is what my sister resonnated with. Whatever I felt and said outloud from my subconsciousness was what she was thinking/feeling/needed to hear in hers. Like anything else I have journaled, once it is written down and out of me it is gone and I am not responsible for keeping it anymore. So it isn't there. That's why its good to journal anger. It is released from your body but trapped on a page where it is inocuous... I'm just saying. I do not have that to tap into any more. Compound that with the fact that they weren't conscious thoughts and WHAMO!... nothing.
If I could look at them again, I could feel those moments again: an overwhelming sense of peace and rightness. But I can not recreate them. It isn't possible. Thank God for giclee. But that is the only way that they will be reproduced.
Coincidentally, that is also why artists hate to be stuck in assembly line production of their babies. The soul of the piece gets lost. Those of you who are encouraging your art friends to get into the mass production game need to think of a better game or encourage them in other directions. While it is truly a shame that some work will not reach the masses, you don't want to kill the artist's soul with the masses. I would recommend you encourage reproductions, giclee or otherwise, offer to help them make great digital files of their work and even offer to display it in your offices, retail stores et all to support them. But if there is one thing that doesn't mix, it is the corporate gristmill and the artists' soul.
Okay... lecture over.

footnote: In reference to Charlie. Professor Charlie Epps from the CBS show Numb3rs, makes math fun. Better than that, I can understand it much better than I ever have before. I am a little less math-phobic but not much. Haven't seen it? Check it out. Seasons 1-4 are superb. 5 I'm an still out on.

matched set

This is a pair of collage paintings that I did for my brother and his wife for Christmas gifts in 2001. They hang in the dining room of their home, so I guess you could say this is private collection stuff.

I wish that I could say the concept was original. I've done similar things with my jars. But this was inspired by a piece I saw at Michaels. None of those motifs would have worked for my brother. And the colors were all wrong. So I amended. The first step was to look at the things that they had in their home. I took the palette and large leaf from the rug design in the living room which is open to the dining room. Second step was to figure out what went with it so as to not totally rip off the rug artist or the print artist.

This set was a blast to paint. Apparently the stars were aligned and the Muses were right in my wheelhouse because this was the easiest set I have ever done. I had just the right tools, just the right colors and my brushes were just the right kind of crappy to leave intriguing brushstrokes right where they needed to be. Should I admit to such serendipity?

Yes. Part of being an artist and understanding how your chosen medium works is having the vision and wisdom to know when to let the material paint itself instead of struggling to impose your own hand on the medium. Serendipity is an artists friend; but it is also the egoists enemy. And you can always tell if it was the soul or the ego that painted a piece... even if it is in a series. If it is stilted and leaves you flat or cold the chances are great that the artist's ego got in the way.

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