« On Painting

The painter’s Truth

November 30th, 2010

I understand that being “politically correct” in much of todays world precludes delving very deeply into philosophical matters. Has this affected the way we think and talk about art? I believe that perhaps this is the case. What do you think?

In the middle of the 19th century, Sainte Beuve summed up the current state of affairs thus: “The beautiful, the true, the good is a fine slogan and yet it is specious. If I had a slogan it would be the true, the true alone. And not the beautiful and the good get along as well as they can.” He was, I believe, speaking to the importance beginning to be placed on scientific and artistic truth. He was close to the painters. Corot was to talk about the importance of the first impression, truth and accuracy. Odd, considering he was so adept at fitting his impressions to classical notions of composition and design.

Truth. Exactly what is it? Does it have a connection with “to thine own self be true”? Is it enough to follow the current opinions flavored with the latest ideas as to the meaning of truth? How is a painter to know what to paint? Is it really as simple as truth or fiction?

Questions.

Most painters blindly follow the zietgeist. “You must be free and unique like no others.” This is not freedom. If you are not free you would not know the truth if it bit you on the arse. Freedom is a precondition for the painter or any creative individual.

Published in french as La vérité du peintre

Life and Creativity

September 23rd, 2010

Two Orchids
“Two Orchids:” a lucky shot in low light. This was taken hand held with a Canon G10 at 1/10 sec, f5.6. Like everyone is saying, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The G10 generates a lot of noise in low light but with this image I’m okay with it.

Since I moved to France in 1994 much has changed for me. For one thing before my wife became sick I was spending a good deal of time in the US. She was diagnosed with a rare fast growing cancer which we were told was terminal by the specialists we saw in France. Thank God for the internet. I learned that a research institute in the US, Sloan-Kettering Institute, was actively working on a experimental protocol. What’s more they were collaborating with The Institut Curie in Paris. So, immediately on the phone to Curie; luckily a quick appointment and we had a protocol. It was not easy getting treatment because Doctors don’t like being told what to do. But having said that, the treatment was first rate. Françoise is a survivor. I am a survivor. It has been 9 years now. It is unimaginable how hard this all was and how it has affected and changed our lives. These days we don’t put up with much shit. Life is much too dear to spend time dealing with the petty stuff. And for this reason, we found ourselves moving from the home from which we thought we would never leave. We are happy with our new home. But it was a time consuming project. It took a two year chunk of precious time.
For those of you whose lives have been touched by cancer our deepest sympathies. And the 3 out of 5 of us that have not been touched? Please count your blessings and think beyond thee current TV comedies on the “Big C”. They just touch the tip of the iceberg. For anyone wanting to understand more about the impact on lives and the need for more public awareness this is a must read http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/sep/19/the-big-c-cancer-tv

This blog began in April, 2006 as www.webb-blog.fr written in French with a translation in English. It, along with my site www.deniswebb.fr did very well. That was all fine, but traffic to my English sites: www.deniswebb.com and this blog remained quite low. Easy to understood why: it was essentially a copy of the translations in the French blog. Aside from the fact that these are two quite different publics it appears in the blog that the articles where written over a period of a couple of months when in fact it was over a two year period.

I’ve been on a artistic path from a young age and I feel I’ve been fortunate. In my opinion, fame and notoriety are traps for the unwise. Autonomy, integrety, and direct contact with a smaller circle brings balance and perspective. For many years this has worked for me. Many, much more talented than I, have attempted to make big changes or pursue that chimaera called success only to be subdued by an unrestained ego. (Here is an interesting, if not brilliant, video by Elizabeth Gilbert about nurturing creativity → http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html)

For a long time humanity has struggled to break the chains of history. Creativity and the historical view are the antagonists. My heart is warmed when I see a young person like Elizabeth Gilbert thinking and speaking clearly.

Remember, we paint who we are so keep your brushes wet.

In art,
denis

Getting Back on the Path

September 9th, 2010

atelier before
“Here is a corner of the atelier as a before image ( see my previous post)”

My earlier article about thinking outside the box stopped short of talking about the rebuilding of a new box. And here we get into the nitty gritty of it. The rebellion side of the coin is easy. The rebuilding of a new ethic, set of values, a new mode of politics, ect. is a horse of a different color. So easy to become nihilistic at this stage. If all the values, gods, religions, current modes of thinking, and so one go out the window what’s next?

Humanity, it seems to me, is in the process of coming to grips with the problem. If we do not succeed collectively we are in big doo doo. The understanding neccessary is left up to the creative minds working on the edge asking hard questions.

These are just some thoughts flying around in my head. Remembering that answers do, in fact, come before questions does not help a lot. The questions seem so huge. Is there nothing else to do but patiently watch things unfold in slow motion?

So, here I am, contemplating the reentrance to my artistic path. It sseems that I’ve been off-track for some time now. As much as I’ve been a student of tradition, I likewise have been quite sensitive to world happenings,ect.

My move resulting in a new mode of life and a new atelier:

I’ll keep you posted about my first steps back on the path.

In art & love,
denis

Published in french as Retour sur le chemin

Getting here from there

August 31st, 2010

Bright New Atelier
“Bright New Atelier” There is a large skylight over my shoulder. The shade is open quite a bit for the photograph. (Canon S90)

It has been well more than one year since the necessity of moving became apparent. A frustrating difficult decision ! Sixteen years earlier I swore I was through moving. And after years in the same place it seemed an impossible task. Enough said. Now, the move is completed, much work organizing, tearing out walls, floors, ect. It feels good to be decompressing a bit. Still not really back to work but it is just around the corner.

Read the rest of "Getting here from there"

« On Painting