He lifted up his eyes and saw a burnished

Disc in the air and realized, stunned,

That somehow he had forgotten the moon.

--Jorge Luis Borges, The Moon

For the past couple of months I’ve been working my way through a collage/painting that is strange to me.  It started with a large ink smeared piece of newsprint that had been used to cover a table. Because I liked the random brush marks and smudges, I impulsively decided to glue the whole thing to a large board. 

The newsprint board and I stared at each other for weeks. What to do with it?  When in doubt, add paint. I covered up a lot of the marks I liked and added new ones with carbon.

It sat for another week. Now a series of spheres has appeared—stenciled, painted, drawn and cut from paper. This painting and I have the power to surprise each other. I like the colors, some of the lines, but not sure why everything is stacking up on top of each other. The spheres? What does it need? More paint, more spheres. Tonight’s a full moon. I’ll make more spheres—28 of them—a full cycle. 

Feeling as if all this could go very wrong, but finding it interesting to work on, a mystery that has found its direction.

While I'm working I’m thinking of The Moon,  a poem by Jorge Luis Borges, about a scholar who set out to catalog the phenomenal world, only to find, when he had finished, that something had eluded him.

  

 

Goat Rodeo

What is it about green?

04/09/2021

Zoom portfolio reviews--worth it?
Painter and painting--who's really in charge?
Art with a message--experiments with a word challenge.
Revise, renew, reinvent...
Walking to the studio, looking around...

12/28/2020

Concerning art and angels
Learning from artist's block
How do paintings come together? Do you end up with what you had in mind when you started?
John Cage informs the process
Making art. Hard enough to do it. Should I write about it? Yes? No? But what about...

Parts of the Process: A Complete Unknown

12/2/2020

He lifted up his eyes and saw a burnished

Disc in the air and realized, stunned,

That somehow he had forgotten the moon.

--Jorge Luis Borges, The Moon

For the past couple of months I’ve been working my way through a collage/painting that is strange to me.  It started with a large ink smeared piece of newsprint that had been used to cover a table. Because I liked the random brush marks and smudges, I impulsively decided to glue the whole thing to a large board. 

The newsprint board and I stared at each other for weeks. What to do with it?  When in doubt, add paint. I covered up a lot of the marks I liked and added new ones with carbon.

It sat for another week. Now a series of spheres has appeared—stenciled, painted, drawn and cut from paper. This painting and I have the power to surprise each other. I like the colors, some of the lines, but not sure why everything is stacking up on top of each other. The spheres? What does it need? More paint, more spheres. Tonight’s a full moon. I’ll make more spheres—28 of them—a full cycle. 

Feeling as if all this could go very wrong, but finding it interesting to work on, a mystery that has found its direction.

While I'm working I’m thinking of The Moon,  a poem by Jorge Luis Borges, about a scholar who set out to catalog the phenomenal world, only to find, when he had finished, that something had eluded him.

  

 

Parts of the Process : The Blind Alley

Parts of the Process: Blind Alleys

All artists run into times when, despite best efforts, nothing is working and ideas are few—that special misery described as a block or a dry spell. To survive those times I have developed a practice of continuing to work, sometimes switching media or more often just forging ahead into the dark unknown. 

It’s a testing ground, a chance to try things out. New ideas may not emerge in a coherent way and I’m certainly not an objective judge of what’s going on. Sometimes ideas have to be lured into being. Not this; not that.  

A few years ago I painted over a piece seventeen times. I kept a photo journal of the process and now share it with students, who may be discouraged when they can’t nail an idea fairly quickly. This was no process of small adjustments—it was essentially seventeen different paintings all on top of each other. I worked steadily for months and months. Studio visitors would say “Oh! It’s done now.” But I knew it wasn’t—I just didn’t know where it was trying to go.

Eventually it resolved. When that happened I knew—no questions about “Is it finished?” The feeling of conclusion landed physically and irrevocably.  Bernard Leach tells a story about the potter, Kawai who was asked during an interview how people could know good pottery. He replied, smiling, “With their bodies.” It’s as good as answer as any I’ve heard.