Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blu and David Ellis

This animation is amazing! The way the drawing, movement, space, light and sound are interacting must haven taken a lot of hard work and creative thinking to work out. I like the way this piece moves seamlessly back and forth between hand drawn animation and stop motion animation. It reminds me of how Jan Svankmajer might use the environment as material for animation such as in the Fall of the House of Usher or The Flat.

What I find interesting is how they imagined a meandering narrative of events unfolding throughout the space. What they give us is a stream of conscious interplay between the given realities of the space and environment and what it provokes in their imagination. Having the figures (Blu and Davis) making the animation almost before our eyes, places an emphasis on process: the animating, drawing and painting. For me the idea becomes less about the quirky and funny imagery as it is about how we project our fantasies into the real world in a kind of call and responds dance. Also the idea of memory and trace as we navigate through the world and make out mark so to speak is implicit in how we are away of the past and present as we watch the animation unfold. This evocation of memory into the unfolding present is something one sees in William Kentridge animations as well. It becomes a pentimenti moving in time and space. This is a quality ones sees in the static format of drawing and painting in Alberto Giacometti, Richard Diebenkorn and Willem de Koonig works.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life imitates arts: Mount Fuji in Red

Akira Kurosawa was truly a prophetic genius. I love this film, Mount Fuji in Red (1990). Unfortunately the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster has brought Kurosawa's "nightmare" vividly to life. My heart goes out to the people of Japan. I spent a year on the Island of Okinawa, 90 miles from mainland Japan and I was overwhelmed by its natural beauty.

I did this collage a couple of years ago. It was done as a kind of reminiscence from my time in  Okinawa. Like Kurosawa's Mount Fuji in Red, as I was putting this collage together, it evolved into a concern about an ecological disaster and toxic pollution sickening the earth and wild life . I titled it Kurosawa's Fish (Okinawa in Red).  I thought of the fish as belching out toxic waste. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Studio Update

Unfinished charcoal drawing/ 17 1/2" x 23 3/4"

I know some people are not into process photos, but I am very fascinated by the evolution of my developing work. Each stage becomes for me thoughts frozen in time, soon to be covered over and absorbed into the changing currents of my intuitive impulses as I struggle to figure out what the work is about and where it wants to go.  I wish I was not such an anxiety-ridden artist, but it does feel all worth it when I am surprised at the end when the work coalesces.

My home studio 

Some artists need, I suspect, a clean white box in which to work, but I am the opposite. I need pictures everywhere, control clutter, and familiar and comfortable stuff surrounding me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Studio Update

Current state of painting
The painting is just getting underway. Lately I have been very interested in layering paint and creating rich surfaces. I am also becoming more drawn to how colors interact across and below the surface of painting. Although I paint representationally, I think of my paintings as more painted surfaces. Mark and gesture, paint application, emphasis on shapes, scraping, scumbling, troweling are some of the strategies I use to emphasize the physicality of the painting. This is a direction I want to continue to explore by continuing to emphasize process, materials and physicality.  

Early stage of this painting. 

Current on going work in the studio.

Current stage
I thought the painting needed a more weighted bottom, and I also felt I needed to strike a more neutral note somewhere as a kind of respite for the eye. 

Recent stage

Early stage 

My Favorite William Morris Hunt Quotes

"Inspiration is nothing without work"

"Work is a stimulus to work! and loafing is a stimulus to laziness!"

"Be carefully careless!"

"Paint for fun! I don't care whether it succeeds or not! Let success come along afterwards!"

"The next work is the one in which to put all the good, and to leave out some of the bad of the past!"

"Use your canvas as you would a slate–with the idea that you can rub out and add and subtract at will."

"The struggle of one color with another produces color."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

William Kentridge: drawing, play and transformation

Between the alpha and the omega
Kentridge has talked about drawing as a model for thought. In drawing the image is developed over the course of time. It is not an instantaneous event. This means that between beginning and ending a drawing, there is this space where the initial idea is tested by what emerges during the process. Meaning is constructed through the developmental phases of bringing the image into being.  So what you might think the drawing is about in the beginning is not what the drawing ends up being about, and this is a direct result of what happens during the journey of making the drawing. In this way, drawing is not just about making an image or documenting some activity but a way of thinking in slow-motion as Kentridge puts it.  Kentridges describes how drawing can function in the following way:

" ... I believe that in the indeterminacy of drawing, the contingent way that images arrive in the work, lies some kind of model of how we live our lives. The activity of drawing is a way of trying to understand who we are or how we operate in the world. It is in the strangeness of the activity itself that can be detected judgement, ethics and morality. Trains of thought that seem to be going somewhere but can't quite be brought to a conclusion."

[William Kentridge in conversation with Carolyn Christov-BakargiPress Play: contemporary artist in conversation, Phaidon Press Inc. New York, 2005]

" the seriousness of play"