Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Diamond is Inside

I watched The Beautiful Losers with my wife tonight. It was her first time. And though the artists in that movie/book/show are much more successful, at least in monetary terms, than I am, I felt like it was an insight into my thought process; where my head and heart are at when they seem checked out. 

The distance is unavoidable. I try with all my might but have trouble staying present. We talk about all sorts of family matters but my head goes where it goes. The ideas are where the ideas are. The real diamond is inside, I think, but I haven't found the way to fully communicate it yet. That's my task; to communicate that which is inside me and uncommunicable. They wonder why artists starve!  It probably has nothing to do with how much they make but everything to do with priorities, man. Oh I forgot to eat. I was just too into this, but I digress. The diamond is inside. I am rich and I think I've known it all along. The wife and child added to my soul of millions, but challenge my ability to let the diamond out. It is like a volcano of love that covers up the city of gold. Anyway, here's what I was working on today. 


Peace,
Mike

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spontaneity: Painting with Ornette Coleman & Charles Mingus

I read a piece today on Ornette Coleman, by Miles Bullough, while settling into studio.  I was fascinated to read that bop king Dizzie Gillespie didn't even think of Coleman's playing as jazz.  The article went on to explain that Coleman didn't receive any formal education and didn't follow any of the previously accepted modal and measured solos.  Rather he played what felt right and sounded right to him in a spontaneous moment.  The head, or lead in the number would play, and then the sounds would be off to run the gamut.  I slipped The Shape of Jazz to Come on today after reading the article.  There was something in that album that felt so in tune with what I am doing in the "Gridlock" Series.  It is a spontaneity, an improvisation, but not one that has definitive rules.  It is more of a puzzle, finding the right piece to fit in response to the previous shape, with some basic intent at a cohesive whole, but nothing explicit.

Coleman's wandering bars seemed like just the fit to my shapes and as I added color to finish up my pieces, I started listening to Charles Mingus, Live at Antibes, one of my favorite albums.  "Folk Forms" is one of my favorite jazz pieces.  It aspires to this same sort of mindset, I think.  Fitting the current piece with the previous piece.  Don't obsess too much about the whole, because the decisions that you make are innate.  Let the artwork or music be.




It is important for me to allow this side of my brain to be.  When I over think work or focus too definitively on the details of the work, it never seems to happen.  I create a dud.  Only when I allow my intuition to take over to I find the peace of mind to make a successful work.  The successful work is a conversation, not in words translated to paint, but in paint to paint.

Peace
-Mike

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Letting Go: Allowing the Creative Mind to Wander

When I am busy with my daily life, I often have trouble maintaining my creative focus.  When I am allotted time to work in studio or at home I will often feel bitter that I must work right then, that I don't get a day to just be off from work, free to do what I want.  I begin to constrain my creative ideas by overanalyzing daily situations, absorbing outside pressures, and ultimately trying too hard to make as much of my time as possible.  When entrenched in one of these ruts it is difficult to remember that I am most successful when I allow my mind to wander.

The other night I was sitting in my easy chair looking out the window.  I began to draw a street light in a sketchbook and three days later have done over ten drawings of these street lights.  Mind you, were I not working full time over the summer, I would probably have more of these drawings done, but that's okay.  The idea is down.  I will be more prolific in the fall when I start teaching again.  For now the idea is down, I have something to noodle with, and I am not gritting my teeth trying to work too much out of myself.



More to come when it comes.
Peace
-Mike

Monday, July 27, 2015

CSArt, Local Muscle, Frank O'Hara & the Hustle

I just returned from a late night painting in the studio. I was working four separate panels intermittently and split that time up by reading Frank O'Hara. The panels are part of a group of pieces that I will be showing with CSArt in te Local Muscle truck on first Friday in August, in front of Space Gallery. 

The work is starting to really evolve. At first I think I was mostly concerned with the drawing. While I was mixing colors it still was feeling a bit like paint by numbers. My brushes are all a bit too large for the size blocks that I am using in te various patterns as well. It has been very frustrating. Coupled with my decrease in studio hours over the summer and the work has been in this sort of in between phase. Tonight I really feel like I was moving beyond that. There is a tendency when I am working in my home studio to stick to one panel at a time, but at studio I work best when I have multiple panels going. The conversation seems bigger and more inclusive. All I needed was a reminder to get to that spot. Cue in Frank O'Hara who worked for the MOMA, wrote poetry on his lunch breaks as spent a great deal of his time meeting with artists in their studios. All te reminder that I need. 




I think that this body of work really has the capability to be something more special than what I have allowed it to be so far. Here's hoping for more positive energy moving forward. 

Peace
-Mike

CSArt, Local Muscle, Frank O'Hara & the Hustle

I just returned from a late night painting in the studio. I was working four separate panels intermittently and split that time up by reading Frank O'Hara. The panels are part of a group of pieces that I will be showing with CSArt in te Local Muscle truck on first Friday in August, in front of Space Gallery. 

The work is starting to really evolve. At first I think I was mostly concerned with the drawing. While I was mixing colors it still was feeling a bit like paint by numbers. My brushes are all a bit too large for the size blocks that I am using in te various patterns as well. It has been very frustrating. Coupled with my decrease in studio hours over the summer and the work has been in this sort of in between phase. Tonight I really feel like I was moving beyond that. There is a tendency when I am working in my home studio to stick to one panel at a time, but at studio I work best when I have multiple panels going. The conversation seems bigger and more inclusive. All I needed was a reminder to get to that spot. Cue in Frank O'Hara who worked for the MOMA, wrote poetry on his lunch breaks as spent a great deal of his time meeting with artists in their studios. All te reminder that I need. 




I think that this body of work really has the capability to be something more special than what I have allowed it to be so far. Here's hoping for more positive energy moving forward. 

Peace
-Mike

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Absolom, Absolom

I started "Absolom, Absolom" last year, just after Austin was born.  I remember reading it to him in studio.  I love the way that Faulkner wrote.  I unfortunately don't have the endurance to finish his books.  I have started three and gotten to about page 150 on each one and then I lose gas.  Today, while I was watching Austin, I happened into Longfellow Books in Portland and found a copy of "Absolom, Absolom" for my own library.  There is something about reading a book from your own library that can never be compared to borrowing the book.  You own that book.  It is yours to enjoy, feel, and love.  There is something important in starting this Faulkner over again for me; a thread that I left unravelled but not unravelled all the way to the end and not wound up again either.

It seems that my artwork is in the same headspace right now.  I am excited about the work but it seems foreign to me, like someone took all of my saved files on my computer and converted them to French.  I can still catch the gist of the work, but it is difficult to decipher and some of the motives are lost in the translation.  My time in studio has been reduced to such a great extent that I find myself feeling a bit lost, but I've begun piecing in hours.  If I can piece in hours then I will be better off.  I just need to retain my train of thought.  I suspect that I will need to write more; dictate to myself what steps I wish to take while I am creating.

I worked on two pieces today, neither of which is finished, both of which seem like steps in the right direction.  So as I sit here typing, listening to my last album of the day, Wilco "A Ghost is Born," I wonder what the next step is with this work.  I want to put up a show of new thoughts at every turn, but as I related in my last post, I think this does a disservice to the work.  Is the work really about my subject matter or about me painting my subject matter?  Would I be saying the same thing if I did 100 portraits of my son or if I were to 100 paintings of the Grapevine Epimenis?  Grad school suggests to a certain extent, yes.

There is a holiness in the pattern making.  It feels electrifying to fit myself into the spaces, but on the other hand I don't really fit into the spaces.  I haven't concerned myself with coloring in the lines totally since I was in grade school.  At the same time, I come fairly close on a regular basis.


Here is the piece from last night.  I've started to solidify the color, work in a ground which the tessellation will eventually seem to be growing out of and started to paint the succulent.  I realized two things today while I was working on the piece.  One, that I need to have the succulent in front of me if I am going to attempt a more expressive brush stroke.  The photo that I took to studio of the plant at home flattened everything, and the plant that I love felt lifeless.  I need to feel the weight in person, just like I would with a figure drawing.  Two, I realized that I needed to finish the tessellation layer as a whole the next time before I started worrying about where the additional elements might reside.  It is frustrating painting in the negative space around a subject when the ground is a pattern.  Really, it feels like two figures fighting each other; a mathematical and logical figure versus a natural progressing and aesthetically perfect logic.


I wizened up and created the tessellation before I determined where elements were going over top in this piece.  Right now the piece exists as a pleasant play between a cobalt turquoise and a yellow green.  I can already feel the weight in the tessellation, so now when I add in the succulent I feel like it will seem more like a counterweight than a figure being created in correlation to the tessellation. 

Absolom, Absolom.
Peace
-Mike

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Where Did I Leave Off



UThis summer has been so very trying on my creativity. I took a job in an art gallery and seemingly lost my creative mojo. There were so many works around me, very few of which I wanted to feel any influence by, and on the whole my little brain has felt completely an utterly overwhelmed. Compounded with the amount of time that the job takes up I feel like I have been in for it. 

This morning I woke up with a piece in my head though. I haven't in a while, but I know that when I do there is some soup about to get made. I'm off to the soup. I figured that if I couldn't figure out where I was going it was probably because I never got to where I was headed with the last body of work. Sometimes I forget that a new series of work doesn't have to concern an entirely new approach or concept. Sometimes it can just be a matter of the growth of your ideas. And so I have returned to the succulents with the tessellations, albeit a bit smaller this time, and my heart feels light. I know I'm doing something right tonight. 


I'm excited to see what the studio brings tomorrow. Peace. 
-Mike