Saturday, April 30, 2011

Text & Image, 1; Illustration, 0

While I was working on the book for the Art House Co-op Fiction Project,  several pages presented me with the question of how best to combine text and image. I had read, a long time ago, a critic who believed that even the labels next to paintings in museums and galleries distract from, and ultimately trump, the picture. When the two come together, text seems, to many of us, more important than image.

Illustration -- think of your childhood copy of Alice in Wonderland -- can be beautiful and can engage a reader. It is always something of a shock for children to begin reading more demanding books that don't have any pictures by John Tenniel or Maurice Sendak alongside all those newer, harder words. Alice even asks "What is the use of a book ... without pictures or conversation?" But, when I read a novel now, I don't want someone else's "illustration" of what they think Moll Flanders looks like ... (I am with Tristram Shandy, who leaves us a blank page so that we can conjure up our own Widow Wadman).  I don't believe that mere illustration --- here is the description of the house in words, here is a drawing "faithful" to those same words --- is enough...because it can shut down the reader's own imagination (specifically, the picture-making part, to use a technical term).  I think it might be useful to try ... for the adult imagination ... to combine words and pictures in a way that might wake us up.

I found a series of text & image pages in a sketchbook where I experimented. See what you think; can the images and the words pull away from each other in this way... usefully? imaginatively? pulling in, or pushing away, an audience?

(above: Beach rocks... Sea Gulls...)

(above: A pier with water, vs. an abstract reference to... sky?)

(above: Sand shovel and pail, vs. common household items)

What do you think?

Friday, April 29, 2011

"... whose dwelling is the light of setting suns..."

Wordsworth's "Lines written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" has been on my mind all day...  and as the sun sets here, the candles and the table throw shadows on the floor:

And then the light reflects and bounces from my fingers and the camera lens and a framed monotype:

And, as Wordsworth wrote: "Therefore am I still/ A lover of the meadows and the woods..."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

apple, pear and river, smooth and rough

I am working on a new painting, and I began with a sketch -- here's a corner:

Sketches are -- by definition -- unfinished, and yet this one seems so polished and sure of itself.  And now here is what the sketch was pointing towards, the painting, after two sessions, again just a corner:

Definitely neither smooth nor polished, but ... on its way ....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BBQ'd tomatoes (to go with the sausage) and remembering a fine, fine writer

It was the summer of 1997, and we had rented a house on a vineyard in Southern France, and it was an unusually wet and stormy couple of weeks. The land all around us (a growing region of very good wine, called Pic-St.-Loup) was dry and rocky, and didn't absorb rain-water very well. There were signs for miles that warned that "this road" (virtually any of the ones we drove daily) was subject to a "flood" (inondable).  Our landlord's gravel driveway and yard would disappear under huge puddles; he had a weapon for these: a huge squeegee attached to a long pole. Not terrifically effective, but he must have found it preferable to standing in his doorway and cursing...

We did learn a lovely trick from him, though, as I wrote in my journal:

We shared the owner's BBQ, which turned out to be housed inside a beautiful round stone tower that (had lost much of its height and all of its roof and) stood perhaps seven feet high. In the center of the tower, he always placed old grapevines (from a stash he had collected) in a circle under the raised hearth, and, as we watched one night, our landlord laid out both sausages and half-tomatoes (the latter dressed in olive oil and, as my husband now remembers, oregano) and cooked them -- for the same length of time -- for his dinner. As soon as he pulled his dinner from the fire, we began ours. (The sausages and tomatoes are cooking, foreground, and the last few grapevines are resting behind them):

We had bought sausages earlier in the day and happened to have tomatoes, so we tried the same plan... it was wonderful. In those days, we would then gather on our big bed after dinner and I would read from Rudyard Kipling's stories about an English schoolboy, Stalky & Co., until we were tired...

That next day, we got up determined to find Lawrence Durrell's former house in a small town called Sommieres.  It was pouring rain and a thunderstorm came through very early that morning... but we got ourselves together and drove off to explore, hoping that none of our main roads would flood.  With the help of the tourist bureau, we found Durrell's house, behind massive stone fences, elegant, with a long expanse of fields behind the house. The house was for sale, as it happened, for 2 million francs, or about $317,000 then.  It was a deal. We didn't have the money, of course, and as we began to walk away I took one last photo... of the tiles, perhaps from Egypt, where Durrell had lived (and where his inspiration for his fabulous The Alexandria Quartet, four novels that are really lovely, deep, fascinating, hard, and real).  The tile in my photo was carved with the name Lawrence Durrell;  someone had crossed it out, crudely, in black paint:

It rained the rest of the day ... and we bought a Durrell biography on the way home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In which the author (re)visits the Demoiselles

The "Demoiselles d’Avignon” is a breakthrough painting for Picasso… I believe that he never really understood everything it represented, everything he could now work on, artistically, because he had painted this. The work, spurned by nearly all of Picasso’s acquaintances, spent several years in isolation. It did lead, in its way, to Cubism. But Picasso tired of that. He never again painted anything that could be considered the next great leap forward. He resisted pure abstraction. He returned to classicism. He had broken the rules. But he never seemed to find out ... why.

Art historians write about Picasso’s “Demoiselles” with some frequency. The possible sources for the painting, never really discussed by the artist, fascinate us all. Where did these women come from? Ingres, Delacroix, El Greco, a rivalry with Matisse… ? There are probably more sketchbook pages drawn in preparation for this painting than any other in Picasso’s life. He was poor as he was thinking about his Demoiselles, but he had a special canvas made.  Speculation seems … useful, and could help us see what Picasso saw.

I came across a painting the other day that I believe provided a source for these women. It isn’t mentioned by anyone else, as far as I know. Let me begin with some groundwork for my idea. (And, for the record, I don’t believe that Picasso was delineating women in a brothel).

In her exhaustive study, Picasso, Style and Meaning (NY: Phaidon Press, 2002),  Elizabeth Cowling mentions Peter Paul Rubens’s “The Judgement of Paris” as a “relevant” source for “Le Demoiselles d’Avignon,” because of the inclusion of a “peripheral” figure -- Rubens’s Mercury appears to prefigure the Demoiselle who leans into the picture at top right – and because the stance of Rubens’s Minerva is echoed by Picasso’s central Demoiselle (172-3).  She also mentions that Picasso spoke of Rubens’s “fiery genius” on a 1917 visit to the Prado, and indicated that he had known Rubens’s work “since boyhood” (318).  And she says that Picasso would return to Rubens, to his “Battle of Anghiari,” as he sketched the Vollard Suite in 1933-34 (405-6).  But Cowling also suggests that Picasso’s preparatory sketches for “Demoiselles” indicate that he was “trying out and rejecting the voluptuous Titianesque/Rubensian option” as a model for his women (178); certainly the Demoiselles are composed mostly of angles and seem rather un-harmoniously arranged. "Demoiselles" is not exactly a tender encounter in a forest glade.

Then there is Leo Steinberg’s “The Philosophical Brothel” (Art News, September 1972, pp. 20-29 and October 1972, pp. 38-47).  Steinberg writes that, in “Demoiselles,” Picasso “challenges far more than traditional focused perspective” principally because this painting announces a “farewell to stylistic consistency” and also because when we look at these women, in their different modes and different spaces, “neighboring objects diverge willfully into discrepant styles” (45).  He then says “the five figures, though conceptually freed from each other, become a conglomerate unity, cohere like tensed fingers, and the whole collapsing interior stage of the picture closes like a fist …. This is an interior space in compression” (46). [Isn’t he a fabulous writer?]

And, in her article, Lisa Florman (“The Difference Experience Makes in ‘The Philosophical Brothel,’” The Art Bulletin, Vol. 85, No. 4 (Dec. 2003) pp. 769-783), pictures “The Group Portrait of the Amsterdam Musketeers’ Civic Guard (1534)” by Dirk Jacobsz (774), just as Steinberg did. The painting is an astonishing feat, a portrait of seventeen faces, crammed into a tiny space; because all the men are similarly dressed, clean shaven and in partial profile, each man looks ... different:

Florman returns to discussing “Demoiselles” and says “the picture is about the image in its otherness locked in with the real world” (777). She critiques the subjective and objective stances of Steinberg’s essay… but isn’t that what happens to each of us? We return to the “objective” facts of a painting before us approaching it with our own subjectivity each time… differently, each time.

Another article, “The MoMA’s Hot Mamas,” by Carol Duncan (Art Journal, Vol. 48, No. 2, "Images of Rule: Issues of Interpretation," Summer 1989, pp. 171-8), argues that MoMA’s collection, its nudes, its “recurrent images of sexualized female bodies [with the Demoiselles as the primary examples] actively masculinize the museum as a social environment” (172). But I disagree with Duncan. And I disagree partly because I believe her article simplifies the act of museum-going … and simplifies Picasso … and also because I believe “Demoiselles” is based, in part, on a painting of 4 men and a philosophical bust.

The painting is Peter Paul Rubens’s “The Four Philosphers.”  Look at the figures up against the Demoiselles. Look at the curtain, upper left, and the blue slices of distant space that appear in both paintings. But, principally, look at the men and the women.  

Now, first, consider Cowling. Look at the figure breaking in at the upper right in Rubens’s “Judgement,”  and the figure of Seneca breaking into Rubens’s “Philosophers,”  and Picasso’s most isolated Demoiselle on the upper right; Mercury, Seneca, and an un-named, jarring, strident woman--- none of these figures, placed in the same spot in each work, belongs with any of the others in their paintings. These three figures each represent an intrusion and are painting to emphasize that intrusion: an extreme of judgment (Mercury), stoicism and stone (Seneca), and geometries of rejection (that Demoiselle).

Now think of Steinberg’s points… The five women in Picasso’s painting have been worked over  in “discrepant styles” yet, Steinberg says, represent a “conglomerate unity.” Now, look at Rubens’s five figures. Two men look at us, but one face is flushed, one composed … the one student seems as though he might be blind, or is staring, unseeing into a middle distance, and the farther right student is gazing with something like awe at… Rubens? And Seneca seems mildly embarassed; flowers protrude from some part of the niche where his bust has been awkwardly placed. Each “face” is in a different world --- yet we can see that they are together in an enclosed, academic “compression.”

Next, think of Florman’s care in placing the Jacobsz picture in her essay; Rubens’s men are like Joacobsz’s and also “about the image in its otherness locked in with the real world.”  Just like the Demoiselles. The mind reels with the zooming-in and zooming-out demanded by Rubens and Picasso.

Last, Duncan. Yes, nudes are important in art. And, yes, MoMA does bring many of these nudes to the foreground.  But if you see that Picasso may have moved his nudes into places once occupied by Rubens’s men – aren’t we saying that women who are not principally “sexualized” (think about it, now) have, with “Demoiselles,” finally, been granted the foreground?  Not a brothel… but definitely philosophical.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday.... looking for the light...

Here is a photo from a trip to Barcelona... sunlight, a small Mount Fuji, and long shadows.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thick rugs and thin paper

We went with our grand-daughter to the Legion of Honor, an amazing building, with views of the Bay and the Marin headlands; the morning air was clear and bright. The museum's permanent collection is remarkable for such a compact space; the works could easily be in the Met in New York or in the National Gallery in London. Not necessarily the paintings you recognize, but paintings and artists you need to know: waves by Monet, a Gainsborough, a Sargent woman at dinner, Reynolds, Georges de la Tour, Jean-Leon Gerome...A roomful of Rodins... you will know these... many are the studies for larger works... and, then, some rather acrobatic (!) pairings of lovers that are small enough to really see. This is a good way to experience Rodin, who can be overpowering (when you visit his former home in Paris and are confronted with not only its elegance but sculptures everywhere you turn). We walked through the other galleries, and were happily surprised; again, small collections of well-chosen work, perfect to study. I took a close-up photograph of one still-life:

The thick edges of the rug, the colors, the curves... I will track down the artist's name. And I took another photo because the model's clothes were more carefully done than her face. And it seems the artist was more fully engaged in painting those elaborate, expensive, varied-in-texture clothes, as a resume of his talents... And the woman is holding a chicken! So is she the cook? Or a Marie-Antionette-kind-of-person, playing at rural life? This painting is from 1635, and it is called "Neapolitan Woman," by Massimo Stanzione; here is a detail, with a bit of a lighting issue:

The details on her costume, metal, lace, ribbon, the colors, the movement of the different sets of stripes, are very carefully done. So, imagine how surprised I was to get to the special exhibition and find... this:

(This is a photo of the exhibition's -- "Pulp Fashion" -- postcard).  This is a life-sized paper woman, modeled on the woman from the painting by Stanzione... the artist who created this woman, Isabella de Borchgrave, says that she had often longed to walk around the figures in portraits and see the women in three dimensions... she carefully cuts and paints and glues and layers paper until the clothing appears. (The museum has a video of her way of working; a time-consuming process, demanding several assistants). Borchgrave had filled a room with generations of Medici women, and there were children, a Botticellian woman with thin layers of flowered "silk," a paper pavillion... the visitors were all entirely caught up in both the idea and the beauty of the craftsmanship. Utterly striking art....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two drawings...

I learned from Helen  Frankenthaler, who sketches with her whole being and makes abstractions from... her world... from paintings by Hiroshige and Manet, and, likely, many many others... the paintings and prints are fully her own images, yet, set one up against the original, and the visual echo is plain....

So here is a sketch re-imagining our visits to Biarritz on a windy, crazy, wave-filled day:

And here is a sketch-in-progress for a painting-to-come:

Sometimes the partly-finished sketch, the marginal notes, the idea, can be enough for the moment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Zola's vegetables and roses...

“… the carts made their way towards Paris …. A cart full of cabbages and another full of peas had joined up at the Pont de Neuilly with the eight carts carrying turnips from Nanterre; the horses plodded along of their own accord …. The wagoners, lying flat on their stomachs on beds of vegetables, were dozing with the reins in their hands …. Every now and then a gas lamp, looming out of the darkness, would illuminate the nails of a boot, the blue sleeve of a smock ….

[It is not yet light as they arrive at Les Halles] So far nothing could be seen, as the lanterns swung by, except the luxuriant fullness of the bundles of artichokes,  the delicate green of the lettuces, the coral pink of the carrots, and the smooth ivory of the turnips. These flashes of colour appeared along the mounds of vegetables …. A loud voice in the distance cried: ‘Endives! Endives!’”
              --from the opening pages of The Belly of Paris, by Emile Zola,
translated by Brian Nelson, Oxford University Press, paper, 2009

Les Halles, built in 1851, was torn down beginning in the late 1960’s and replaced by a market called Rungis (outside of Paris; the French morning show called Telematin occasionally broadcasts a short segment from there, and the --new-- place seems cold and isolated to me).  I could have read an entire novel (my copy of Belly lasts for 275 pages) filled with this kind of description, Paris in Zola’s day. I think I must be a rather unusual audience: for me, the plot disturbs the beautiful flow of the prose. I would have willingly followed the hero around Les Halles and looked at every cart full of peas and only listen, as the sun came up, to the bargaining and the gossip. I find myself less interested in “story.” As I was reading, I kept looking for that path I would have liked to walk:

“Cadine also sold cress. ‘Two sous a bunch! Two sous a bunch!’ And Marjolin went into the shops offering ‘Fine fresh watercress! Very healthy!’ Les Halles had just been built, and the little girl would stand gazing in ecstasy at the avenue of flower stalls that ran through the fruit market. From end to end, on either side, the stalls were like borders along a garden path, blossoming like splendid bouquets. It was a harvest of perfumes, two thick hedges of roses, between which the girls in the neighborhood loved to walk, smiling and a little overcome by the powerful scents.”
                        --from page 158, same edition

Who wouldn’t want to walk between those “borders” of roses? But, then, I find this pretty often. Girl with A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, is an example of a book I remember reading principally for its fabulous descriptions: the morning walks that the heroine takes to cross the city, or the way the author manages to catch the clean, bright air in prose, the same air that Vermeer paints so perfectly.  It must be because I try to do that in some of the paintings I work on. One of the worst comments I ever heard about my own work was from a friend who, looking at a new series of paintings in the studio said that “the colors seem lovely, but the paintings don’t have any air, they are claustrophobic,” and I looked at them then, and of course they were. She was perfectly right, and I painted them over.

Maybe I secretly think that plot (often) doesn’t leave the reader any room to speculate or to breathe the same air that the characters do.  I like to fall into a book, or a painting. Agnes Martin said something like this once, that she made big paintings so that the viewer would be immersed. That’s it. Immersed. I am remembering, though, and not being exact. But she does say exactly this: “The times when you are not aware of beauty and happiness you are not alive.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Never Over till It's Over...

Picasso used to say that it was always very hard to know when a painting was completed. but, today, I have finished and mailed out my Art House Co-op Fiction Project, a Moleskine journal filled with text and images... the exhibit of all the journals will travel across the country and land, eventually, back in Brooklyn. Soon the journals will start appearing online, as well. There is something so extraordinary in this set of projects... they encourage art, and artists... to contribute to one big gallery. Here are a couple of pages from my book, "(Isabella) In Flight."

I really had fun with this... the story is one that I had written a while ago, but as I tried to match images, back then, with my words, the results never felt exactly right to me. The timing of this Art House project was perfect... it made me look again at the written word and see how to play with images that were not illustration....

Monday, April 18, 2011

overtraining! and an old sketch

Too much! of a good thing (a workout) today... so I looked back into an old travel journal and found a sketch for a Parisian street sign, and a tucked-away window. I thought that I might want to sketch a sign and add it into a painting at some point, so I wanted to try for accuracy:

I have found that an abstract work sometimes needs a credible realistic note as an anchor... so this will find its way into a soft gray city-scape, someday!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

paper flowers and a sketch for a print....

I have been reading The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delaney Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by the poet Molly Peacock... it is a wonderful blend of interpreting the astonishing paper cutouts by an 18th-century woman and placing these observations up against her life (also pretty astonishing: she was married to a drunk in his sixties when she was just a teenager, for "the good of the family," but met and learned artistic lessons from Handel and Swift and later married at her leisure).  I am about halfway through, and loving it: here is the website:

And here is a sketch for a print, combining the landscape photo from a few posts back and a sketch after a Cezanne:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cover art?

I am beginning to figure out which combinations of art-work I can use for the cover of this little book...
Here is a detail of a sketch from awhile ago:

And here is a detail of a palm tree up against a stiff blue breeze:

And a little more house-cleaning...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

draft completed... xeroxes at the ready...

The text/image combo is nearly done. I have copied the pages to put into the book, and will get them set up in the next few days... here are some out-takes:

This, above, from an altered book, the road not chosen, and this:

A collection of the images from the book, needing to be filed back...

It has been really fun, combining this story with images. More to come!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

working amidst clippings, cuttings, xeroxes, colored pencils...

 that I am keeping partly in this folder:

watched over by a doll from a French flea market

Text and image, for this fiction project, pulling together.

Monday, April 11, 2011

whistling in the dark*

So, today, I worked a bit on a monotype, completing it with stronger lines...

And I worked on my "Fiction Project" for ArtHouse.  Text and image, which sometimes cancel one another out, ought to be compatible... this is an attempt to "make it so," (as Jean-Luc Picard used to say on Star Trek: The Next Generation).

And here are the paintbrushes, waiting for their turn:

*to try to keep up one's spirits when one is afraid

Sunday, April 10, 2011

blossoms, marcia normale, and a bit of print

The last two days have been very sunny ... lovely birthday dinner last night with the equally lovely R & R team ... and today, we can't decide if the petals on this tree are arriving or leaving:

But they are pretty, and a sign of spring: all is well, there. In my journal I found a reference to the autostrada signs in Italy ... marcia normale is the lane of the Italian highway that drivers should travel in ... and this tree doesn't care whether I understand its efforts or not ... it is all marcia normale for the tree.

The world can be just as hard as this tree is beautiful, though, and in an effort to counter my feelings about its nastier moments, I worked on a print today, a corner of which is here:

It is still unfinished ... Picasso said that art was a weapon against the brutality of the world.  Yes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Classic portraiture vs. Cubism and Francis Bacon and David Hockney....

We were travelling in Dublin, spending time with our daughter ... found a lovely little easel:

This easel sits in my studio and supports my plates for my prints. But it was very likely created to carry out into the landscape... and so I was thinking... after Constable, after Turner, after Renoir and their forays into open-air painting, come the questions about one-point perspective, posed by Picasso and Braque, that were answered by Cubism. But Cubism is mostly about human-made objects (pitchers, guitars, newspaper headlines) and fruits and sometimes faces... but very seldom about landscape... trees are harder to "square" and reduce... So if Cubism is in part ditching perspective, and staying indoors, then, when it does deal with organic things and with humans, isn't it also jettisoning the one view of the face, the classic portrait (like this terrific picture of Sir Hugh Lane by John Singer Sargent):

(This is a page from my journal where I taped in a postcard from the Hugh Lane Gallery, which also has recreated Francis Bacon's studio in its entirety -- and lovely mess).  The face in Cubism is broken into facets... David Hockney has said that "all drawing is collage" and in that sense, then, maybe Cubism was inevitable... the artist is always making choices: what to add or subtract, what to priveledge, what to shade or make whole... where we see and what we see from that angle... And Francis Bacon (in my notes in my journal picture above) says that "Half my painting activity is disrupting what I can with ease" (Picasso said something like this, too) and "I see every image all the time in a shifting way and almost in shifting sequences."  I think we all do, now... the permanent legacy of Cubism. Not a style, but a way of seeing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Water, layered with rocks and water, or Carmel Valley with Tunisian Room Chairs?

I sometimes print very complex, layered monotypes:

And while, generally, I tend towards the idea that layered prints mean luminous prints, I sometimes wonder, could I do something simpler, such as the sketch below, in a monotype? I will see....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

artist, audience, performance

I taught an interdisciplinary class called "Artist, Audience, Performance," where we discussed the ways that one of these words might influence another. For example, an artist intent upon the performance, the work of art, could lose any potential audience by becoming too difficult, too inscrutable and enclosed.  Gertrude Stein's early works, such as Tender Buttons, need great care before they can be appreciated, because ... well, here is a sample:

A Red Stamp
If lilies are lily white and they exhaust noise and distance and even dust, if they dusty will dirt a surface that has no extreme grace, if they do this and it is not necessary it is not at all necessary if they do this they need a catalogue.

Now, I love this.  I think the poem makes it possible to say that the silence that we typically associate with lilies comes because they have worn out (or collected into themselves) all the ambient noise. And any cut flower, brought into the house and placed in a vase, will disintegrate into dust and remind us of our own deaths. And if they are going to do this to us, perhaps we need a written warning of all their properties and behaviors.

Of course, this is just one way of perhaps two hundred of talking about this stanza.

And when Stein did court an audience, with The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas,  and found it, she nearly stopped writing altogether, so startling and upsetting was all the attention.

So today, when I was researching Italian pictures, dating from about 1910, showing peasant women,  I was looking for a very particular kind of picture.  And what I found were studies in pencil or watercolor of women or children in dresses posing ... these became, some of them, postcards for the tourists coming through Italy, or France, or Switzerland, to take or send home as souvenirs. The time of women, dressed this way, gathering in any kind of harvest, was rapidly disappearing, but tourists were searching for the "authentic" rural life, and artists and photographers found it for them.

So the audience there had been tourists. And the market was clear.  Van Gogh, he who never sold anything in his lifetime, even drew a moving, plain study: "Peasant Girl Raking" (1881).  BUT at very nearly this same time, other artists were creating a fully different kind of "performance." 

Ingres (1780-1867), Delacroix (1798-1863), John Frederick Lewis (1804-1876) and Lord Leighton (1830-1896) -- to name only the few I can think of -- all painted European women in the dress and formal settings of the Harem.  Some of these artists also painted peasant women; if they did, their peasants have none of the allure of their odalisques. And it struck me how different these two sets of portrayals were ... both were, in their way, lies.  The artists drawing the peasants (except for Van Gogh, who was telling the truth about this woman's twisted shoulders and leaning angles) are already selling nostalgia. But it isn't sexy nostalgia. The artists drawing the odalisques are part of a long, classical tradition of Venuses and Susannah and her Elders ... the nude for the sake of nakedness.

The performance is set in ... the (utterly accessible) hayfields, or the (inaccessible) private rooms of the Orient.  I think I understand the audience for the former ... who is the audience for the latter?  Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the painting is no longer arguing!

This is a detail of the painting (which is now undergoing a good clean discussion with me):

We are getting there, quickly now, I hope, and so the next thing is 3 feet x 3 feet of:

My sketchbook is open! And we'll see what is to come. I have done as Hemingway suggested: stopped for the day when I know where I will start tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

sailing and arguing with a painting

Sometimes we do need to remember about the closest harbor, and go and see it, if we can, or at least re-visit the photo:

And then we are still working with the stubborn painting ('No fighting, no biting," as my mother used to say, after the title of a children's book):

The painting, of course, will always win ... eventually.

Monday, April 4, 2011

a fun experiment... possibly addictive...

This photograph comes from playing with a site called "photofunia." I made it by choosing one of many possibilities on the site. This is another photographer's shot of a cyclist (the photographer was Milo Baumgartner); I added a picture of our two children from 1989 and two of my monotypes from this year, which appear as the "posters" behind him. I owe this playful gesture to a blog I like, called "Art for Art's Sake" (, whose author posted a photo he had created from this site, called "photofunia." Check out both sites! Here is my "photo":

Sunday, April 3, 2011

more light, flea market finds, and tiny brush strokes

Today seemed to remain sunnier longer... it stretched out a bit... warm, sunny, almost summery.

We found a paint-able pitcher in a flea market:

I can see it in a still life. And we found a table lamp for our son and his girlfriend:

And then, I worked in new details on a very stubborn painting:

Calligraphy branches on a scrubbed pale ground...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sanded, paint-strewn, sanded and a new layer....

I mentioned before that I had sanded down and re-painted a 2 x 4 foot canvas that I no longer liked... I threw paint at it and began a slow process of then figuring out where the painting really meant to go.  Today, I made progress, and I am very happy with the big picture so far; here are two details: