September 6th, 2009
Much, if not almost all of my writing in this blog has focused on the large issues. While they are important I’m always reminded how removed they are from the actual life of the artist. The daily toiles, the comfort of the workplace, the economic situation, the interaction with patrons and society as a whole, freedom of expression exercised, the quality of training received, many such questions go begging. By far however, these are the parts which make up the whole with philosophical, theoretical and historical considerations playing a small role.
The World Wide Web has expanded in some sense the horizons for many of us. This conflict directly, however with the social interactions from which we drew our substance a few years ago. One way in which it has done this is the explosion of self professed authorities and experts. Consequently, the process of connecting with an audience has become actually much more complex overnight so to speak. A rule of thumb for the working artist (i.e. professional artist) was that it was necessary to spend around one-half of the time devoted to the business side of things. Boy; has that changed. I don’t know about you, but for me the time left over for painting has dropped dramatically. Where is this leading us?
Read the rest of "The Day to Day Life of Painters"
August 24th, 2009
Okay, I admit to being evasive in my post “Artistic Awakening”. I believe that painters learn this so well that traditionally they have been considered well, a little slow at the switch.
There are some ideas that we just need to get our mental teeth into and chew just like a dog does on a bone with a great deal of patience and diligence. At the end of the day no other way will be found when it comes to these subtle issues. There is no free lunch. Patience, persistence and so until the bigger piece begin to click into place.
I heard some interesting monologue on a movie the other day. It was a speech about success and competition. The character was saying that there is something about competition that is ferocious and carnal. He then made his principle point; the importance of finding the balance between human intelligence and animal diligence. Bingo. In the author’s view finding the balance was the key. Defining the term was also important. Absolutely nothing was said about understanding the relationship between our intellect and our passionate self.
We see clearly when we get the relationship in correct perspective. A painter does not paint things. The painter paints relationships, even if he is a non-representational painter. There is no other way short of following someone else with their formula. And, as Picasso pointed out, if we plagiarise ourselves that is the worse form of plagiarism.
The idea of elegance that Galileo spoke of, as I understand it, was a quality arrived as a consequence of understanding the relationship between the natural world and our experience of it. Order and simplicity are found there. The understanding of painting or any area of creativity is closely connected to all this.
Enjoy chewing on big ideas before you “twitter” it all away.
Published in french as Élégance
August 18th, 2009
Each individual artistic path is not a linear affair, likewise with humanity. In the bigger scheme of things, our collective intellectual awakening was like a snap of the finger ago. Previous to this, “Truth” dictated all creative pursuit, likewise with scientific thought. Law and religious authority were the controlling factors in every facet of our lives. It is not even 400 years since Galileo dared question Earth’s role at the center of the universe. His argument for the theory of Copernicus earned him house arrest for the last 10 years of his life. He had said of the current doctrine: “Yes, but it is not elegant.” In the defence of elegance he paid a high price.
I believe that our creative and intellectual efforts have today reached a similar crossroad. Collectively, humanity has a choice to make. It is quite similar to conditions in Europe 400 years ago but in a very subtle way. Once again it is a question of elegance of thought.
A man before Galileo, William of Occam, succinctly put it this way: “The best model is the simplest one – the one requiring the fewest assumptions and modifications in order to fit the observations”. Do we still need today pundits who write and argue convoluted ideas about art and science? Why is it that so many of us are unable to tell the difference between a common criminal and a potential Nobel prize winner? Such questions beg for answers.
Published in french as Èveil artistique
June 29th, 2009
(The painter’s Desire Part II)
It is necessary to first read or reread my previous article "The Painter’s Desire". What follows is the result of some reflective thought following this article.
As a young man I found motocycles and airplanes to be on a higher order in terms of function and aesthetics. In both cases their highly refined function results in designs highly pleasing to our senses. When young I begin riding a motocycle and continue to this day. Why would a person devoted to an artistic path do such a thing? I should add that the motocycles that I ride are very fast motocycles. To me they do not make sense otherwise. For a couple of years, early on, I raced them. I quickly determined that this was a bit too dangerous for my taste.
Before my racing days, a friend had dubbed me the wild one-half. This was not long after Marlon Brando”s movie, "the Wild One". In order to be the wild one, first of all, a man must be a joiner. This I was not. I was not out to make a social statement, nor be part of a group large or small.
To maintain integrity as an artist or as a person is not an easy thing. If we react we lose our integrity. Likewise in going along with the croud. Simplicity and order is the pathway we follow to find a place where we can be of one piece. In this way we begin to hear that small fragil voice within that gives us direction in life as well as in art. Otherwise we are like the stupid fish asked to describe water.
Published in french as Ordre et Simplicité