FIFTY YEARS DRAWING TREES

Fifty Years Drawing Trees

Trees, as a continuing subject of interest, have accompanied me through my life as an artist. I think it was Basil King, an older, more experienced artist and my informal mentor in the early 1970s who suggested I go out into the street and find some trees to draw.

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WHAT IS STYLE?

WHAT IS STYLE?

By the 1980s, I had been making art already for fifteen years when I learned there was a gallery on Madison Avenue that, once every month, hosted an open house for unknown artists. It was a chance to show your work to a curator. If the curator liked it, a show might follow. Armed with a selection of slides, I waited nervously until it was my turn to show what I had done.

The curator looked attentively at every image, and. perplexed, turned to me and said: “ Your work is interesting but you don’t have a style. You need a style.”

 

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OLD & NEW: DEFINING AN ARTIST'S PERSONALITY

I was reading John Elderfield’s excellent book, “The Drawings of Henri Matisse,” and came across a Matisse quotation that attracted my attention. Matisse said that In his earliest works he
“found something that was always the same which at first glance I thought to be monotonous repetition. It was the mark of my personality which appeared the same no matter what different states of mind I happened to have passed through.”

Finding and then defining this “monotonous quality” is not an easy task.

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LOST IN THE WOODS-- AUTHOR JIM HARRISON

The Sunday, April 8th NYT Book Review offers the following quotation from author Jim Harrison who died at age 78 last month. Harrison eloquently describes the discomfort that is intrinsic to the creative process.

" In a lifetime of walking in the woods, plains, gullies, mountains, I have found that the body has no more vulnerable sense than being lost...  It's happened often enough that I don't feel panic. I feel absolutely vulnerable and recognize it's the best state of mind for a writer whether in the woods or in the studio. Your mind feels a rush of images and ideas. You have acquired humility by accident. Feeling bright-eyed, confident and arrogant doesn't do this job unless you're writing the memoir of a narcissist. You are far better off being lost in your work and writing over your head. You don't know where you are as a point of view unless you go beyond yourself. It has been said that there is an intense similarity in people's biographies. It's our dreams and visions that separate us. You don't want to be writing unless you're giving your life to it."

Image below is from But a Bubble, artist book by Marc Shanker, published by Gravity Free Press.

Alone  , Drypoint. 8 x 10.

Alone, Drypoint. 8 x 10.

 

 

 

 

Collaging Guston & Dubuffet

Collaging Guston & Dubuffet

What fascinates me most about making collages is how disparate elements interact with one another to create something entirely different, unexpected, than the individual parts. The process is like a mystery unfolding in front of your eyes. And the artist is the detective. Frequently, some unnoticed mark, color or line in one element interacts with another in a way that hadn’t been anticipated. Collages have this wonderful surprise that keeps me coming back for more (Work/Collages).

In this blog, I wish to create a collage of words chosen, somewhat randomly, from the essays,  lectures or interviews of two of my favorite artists: Philip Guston and Jean Dubuffet. My hope is that the juxtaposition of their words will sharpen our understanding of each artist while also broadening our view of art, and how it is made. 

I will be quoting JD from the MOMA publication The Work of Jean Dubuffet, by Peter Selz with texts by the artist, and Philip Guston, Collected Writings, Lectures, and Conversations, edited by Clark Coolidge.

 

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Chatting with Images

Chatting With Images

When Gauguin left for Tahiti (1891 and 1895) “ he took with him a trunk full of photographs and reproductions of art and artifacts that he admired, as well as books, sketchbooks and manuscripts… a portable reference library he would continually turn to for inspiration” (Gauguin, Metamorphoses, MOMA, 2014). He wrote, …”I am taking a whole little world of comrades who will chat with me every day.”

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How Do You Begin A Painting?

This is an even more common question than "how do you know when a painting is finished?" My answer, without trying to circumvent the question, begins before I ever squeeze a tube of paint on my palette. In fact, it begins with the ritual of cleaning up after yesterday's efforts. I like to start each day with a clean slate regardless of whether-or-not I was successful the previous day. 

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