As I wrap up various projects for 2022 time feels oddly accelerated. There’s not enough hours in the day.
I was recently turned onto the Post website. From what I have seen of it, I like it. By way of saying thank you and showing appreciation to all those who have bothered to seek out my works I posted a free essay from my last collection Funeral Clothes.
When I started this Cinefield® I had decided to stretch myself as I had no deadlines. I work no digital magic on my pieces, but the photos I use are of course kept on my computer. Being a little under quarter of the way done with the piece my computer of seven years gave up the ghost.
I wanted to research what best option was for new one as unlike last time i bought one, I had concrete ideas of what I was going to use it for and what I did not need it to do. The research was the first delay. Once I determined what I wanted, it would take about two months for them to make it for me. I cleaned up the paper chad snowdrifts, switched to painting and some of my other visual projects.
As I was not merely sitting on my hands waiting, I did not mind. My third delay, the computer showed up and upon getting it set up, my equally old printer died. The amount of work she had done for me (ships & printers are always referred to in feminine form) made it not so shocking. I had already been looking at new printers anyways. Knowing ahead of time what I wanted and needed made the wait for a new one shorter.
The printer I got is geared towards photo film too. I bought few different types to experiment with while working to finally finish this piece. I was curious if I would be prevented from getting the flush edged fit as happens with my pocket printer mini-cinis. That film is akin to instamatic camera film, this is not, so I am able get the flush fit.
Aside from trying for more diverse color palette a few things made this piece different. The components consists of the paper on the old printer I always used, new printer with different type paper and three types photographic paper also from new printer. It was very different for me too in that I have never put down a Cinefield® for more than a day or so. The extended time away from it was totally new experience for me.
As is always the case, all the images are from photos I personally took. I use my tiny trusty scissors and adhesive applied with glue. The piece is 11×17 inches.
I had been about a quarter of the way through a full sized Cinefield® when my computer gave up the ghost. This meant I couldn’t use my printer, needed for components. I Switched to doing a painting. The computer I ordered taking it’s time to get to me. I missed doing Cinefield® work
I decided to use my pocket printer and do a smaller piece. Having the luxury of no deadline and no expectations of a collector, I decided to try some new things:
I inserted an In the Eights figure into the work (female figure for those not familiar with my 8’s project)
The pictures are printed on thicker, instant film like paper. When I initially was figuring out methodology with these materials, I used my regular adhesive. If that comes in contact with picture side of the film, it immediately clouds it. I Switched to glue sticks. Problem with that was that it secures the pieces only temporarily. Often times I would lay a piece down only to have a different piece fly off. For this piece I used regular adhesive, applied with a tiny brush as to control it. The tricky part was that I had to lay each piece exactly where it was meant to go because of the adhesive. A piece lain wrong I might be able to pick up but then adhesive had touched other parts.
The nature of pocket printer pieces is they are thicker and rigid so it’s an impossibility to get the pieces flat and flush. The visible seams/edge are part of the look.
The piece is 4×4 inches. All the photos are by me except the female photo which was done for me. The clock image is from photo I took of Orsay Museum clock in Paris.
Lyra water soluble graphite sticks have become one of my favorite mediums. That with a brush and pocket pad and i can do painterly pieces even when sitting at a cafe table. And I need not sprawl out taking over the table. I am also able to maintain discretion as I would hate to be like one of those people stateside who feel it necessary to go to Starbucks to show everyone that they are “writing”.
Aside from fully realized works, i continue to woodshed, hands, feet, whatever is in front of me. It is akin to a musician practicing scales. Both Renoir and Matisse when in the twilight of their years said something along the lines of it being a shame that they did not have a few more years left as they both felt that they were finally starting to get it. Coltrane before and after a concert or recording session would still put in time practicing. This has been my overall approach too. Regardless of how my day is spent, an hour or two at night woodshedding.
I do not go for the outwardly dramatic thing in my sketching. I let the organic truth of whatever the thing is create the emotion. A sort of raw reportage without any preconceived agenda. All pieces are either 3×5 pocket pad or 4×4 pocket pad. My 3×5 pad has circled the globe with me more ties than I can count and is always besides my bed or in my pocket during the day no matter where I am in the world.
This season, I was really able to trim down the amount of equipment I brought with me. For painting, I had my custom cut 4×4 in both standard white watercolor paper & brown multi media paper. The plan was to buy a standard block once here.
I actually enjoyed challenge working small, and people liked the weird hanging chads too. So I decided to stick with it, forgoing other paper.
With smaller paper you have less space to create tension & release. The density I prefer in my compositions also trickier to achieve.
Here is my portrayal of flesh which I never tire of doing, a night scene trying to show shadow without blatantly showing darkness of a room and detail from a favorite statue in The Luxemburg gardens. All are 4×4
Finally able to get back to my Paris studio. In general I’m always tweeking my road gear. Post pandemic, I’ve done some shorter trips but nothing with logistics of returning to Europe. I had no idea what to expect of others in regards to behavior while en route. With this in mind the lighter I could make my bags the better.
I have a great new notebook. It’s refillable and utilizes the disc system. What’s different about it is that the discs are inside the cover, so I can put it in my pocket. I bought a cutter which allows me to refill it with any paper I choose. I saved space by creating good sized pad comprised of watercolor paper, regular sketch and tan multi media.
I have several great arts stores around me so I will eventually get normal sized paper too. This is my first painting. 4×4.
While getting here, there were times of great crowds of people but thats nothing new for international travel. I didn’t find the vibe any different than normal. Regardless of rules, many people masked up. As the tips of the plane’s wings sliced off the edges of Grey silver clouds, I mused to myself. Masks.For me,it’s not about political affiliations, what happened to the concept of sometimes having to do a thing you don’t want to. That’s called being an adult. Truly, your life has not been too bad if having to mask up is the worst thing that has ever happened to you.
Artistic evolution is my constant mantra, with emotional resonance being my goal. I achieve if not both then at least the first by constantly challenging myself. I never want people to look at my work and after seeing a few pieces feel they have seen them all. Nor do I ever want to become the “…” guy in regards to what my voice is saying via images I use to do so.
Semi recently I started mixing it up with my Cinefield® works as I had previously been doing with my drawings & paintings.
The challenge I presented to myself this time was to use only one image and one of a limited color palette.
The initial wave of Pop art was portraying common objects or scenes, things which could easily be considered lowbrow of plebeian. It was not the objects portrayed which made a work Pop art, it was an ironic emotional detachment. Someone like Wayne Thiebaud often gets lumped in with the Pop artists for his wonderful paintings of cakes and other sweets. However there is painterly intent and definite emotion involved. He is not pop
He followed in tradition which started with the impressionists of showing objects that they encountered every day. Drinks and drinkers were often used as subject matter as cafes were de facto ‘offices” for artists and dealers.
Le Buver d’Absinthe (1859) by Edouard Manet
L’Absinthe (1876/6) by Edgar Degas
Buveur d’Absinthe (1901) by Pablo Picasso
Painted Bronze (Two Ale Cans) 1964 by Jasper Johns.
It occurred to me after I started my piece that I was working, a link in a long chain of artistic tradition. I had previously done flowers, faces and cityscapes and it was the novelty of subject which initially appealed to me though, not the tradition. Before anyone accuses me of pretension, I had gotten both a bottle of good whiskey and one of Absinthe for my birthday. I tried photographing the whisky bottle first but it was just a dark brown with no color variations, I next tried the Absinthe which worked better, this being my only impetus for using it.
I took three photos, not moving the bottle but standing in front of it, besides it and behind it. As is true with all my Cinefield® work, I only used photos that I personally took, working no digital magic. I used my trusty scissors and adhesive applies with a brush.
The work is 7×10. Soundtrack György Sándor playing Batrok’s Mikrokosmos books III-IV, kini Rao (various), Sun Ra Lanquidity.
Addendum: People are still under the impression that Absinthe was illegal either because of the wormwood or the high alcohol content. Neither of which was true. Some politicians in France had major interests in certain vineyards and importers/bottling concessions. Absinthe was cheaper and lasted longer so workers turned from wine to that. The outlawing of Absinthe was first and foremost a financial consideration.
I am now still playing catch up with all the things I had put on hold for a year plus. I am very fortunate that none of it was extremely pressing. Dentist, roofers and a small parade of other things kept me from starting a painting or Cinefield®. I have slowly whittled the list down and started a new Cinefield®. These are labor intensive and so between the two things, it occurred to me I have not posted in awhile. While my studio is being taken over by sheets of tiny cut out images, i can not paint but I can still draw.
When i do short trips i do not bring my painting equipment with me, opting to just draw instead. Sometimes on longer trips even with my painting equipment at hand the weather conspires against me with rain or dark skies. By complete happenstance I discovered Lyra water soluble graphite sticks. I instantly got into this medium. It allows for painterly effects. I have a travel brush which folds into a tiny tube and this accompanying one of the graphite sticks which are size of fat crayon, now allows me to do monochromatic paintings on even short trips. The added bonus for me is that aside from how compact it is, I can use this medium at night (which I cant with regular paints) and in bad weather.
The expressionistic qualities of this medium greatly appeals to me and conveying emotion in only one color makes it that munch “easier” when utilizing a full palette.
I am already pleased with what I can do but am sure that down the line I will get even better.
I have started reading The William H Gass reader. Right out of the gate I found myself deeply enjoying it. One of the first essays is on books which were touchstones for his life as an author. Early on he makes a point of drawing a distinction, it is not supposed to be a “best books” list but rather ones which resonated personally for him and which served in his journey into becoming an author.
He mentions Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pécuchet. Of the trinity of Flaubert, Balzac and Zola I had always held him in the least esteem (with Zola being, in general, one of my favorite authors). Right before returning to France a few years ago I read the excellent bio on Cezanne by Alex Danchev. Cezanne talks so passionately about Flaubert, i felt the stirrings of considering giving him another try.
That season I kept meeting Helene and Charlie for drinks and book talk. Her admiration of the trio was the inverse of mine. Her description has stuck with me:
“With Balzac, it was all money, money, money if only I had the money. With Zola it was sex, i need power to get sex, I use sex to get money to get power to have sex. But Flaubert, there is an author, the sentences each meticulously crafted.”
I decided to give Flaubert another try. I went to Gagliani and bought Sentimental Education and Bouvard et Pécuchet. I read Sentimental first. It was good, i definitely had more appreciation for Flaubert than I used to. It was Bouvard though which sealed the deal for me. I found the book darkly funny in the way early Celine had been.
What is interesting to me is that when this book is discussed it’s merits are often described via a shorthand of being “funny” ala wacky Swiftian satire. I think people perceive it this way because it and Sentimental Education form perfect bookends. The later is more outwardly “dark”. I like it, but really it is just a romantic era story of squandered potential and the dried up promises of bygone youth. And, of course, the usual chess like romantic patterns of the main characters. Bouvard is actually a darker novel.
Gass has very much same assessment. His articulation spot on and obvious, but not until you have heard him say it.
I would never argue interpretation with someone on art unless they were 100% wrong. With my own work, unlike when I was first starting out, I rarely talk about it. Fascinating though that art can have completely differing interpretations. Is one person wrong or are they merely noticing and emphasizing in talking of it, a different aspect than someone else?
The pandemic has effected people in drastically different ways. I am not talking about how they directly handle it i.e wearing a mask, not wearing a mask et al. Rather, the sea-change that has come over people in regards to their personal philosophy. For some it served as grim reminder that life is fleeting so live while you can. For others, it has served to bring on a sort of cautious vigilance less something else unexpected further swat us down.
A type of cabin fever-life is too short bubbles up in many and temporarily dictates their actions. I find myself getting notes, photos, movies which when looking at, I keep this in mind.
One of the photos which I recently received had an interesting compositional point of balance. I decided to make a painting of it. As i worked on it, I found people all had different interpretations on it. “Hot” “Silly” “Weird” “Beautiful”. Like Bouvard, it has a little bit of everything in it. The main overriding intent is not for me to say as why would I want to make anyone wrong and temper their enjoyment.