Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I still wasn’t sure exactly what form the painting would take. But I did know how I should begin. Those first steps—which brush to use, what color, the direction of the first stroke—had come to me out of nowhere: they had gained a foothold in my mind and, bit by bit, taken on a tangible reality of their own. I loved this process.

~ Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore: A Novel.  (Knopf, October 9, 2018)


Photo: cnd.ha (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Murakami’s brushstrokes

Autumn steadily deepened around me.

The sky opened up, the air clear and crisp,

the clouds like beautiful white brushstrokes.

~ Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore: A Novel (October, 2018)


Photo: Matt Champlin with Brushstrokes

Does it move me?

When I look at a work of art I ask myself: does it inspire me, does it touch and move me, do I learn something from it, does it startle or amaze me…do I get excited, upset? That is the test any artwork has to pass: can it create an emotional impact on a human being even when he has no education or any information about art? I’ve always had a problem with art that you can only understand if you have a degree in art history, and I have a problem with theories. Most of them are bullshit anyway. Real art is intense, enchanting, exciting and unsettling; it has a quality and magic that you cannot explain. Art is not logic, and if you want to experience it, your mind and rational thinking will be of little help. Art is something…that you can only experience with your senses, your heart, your soul.

Gottfried Helnwein, from “Interview with Gottfried Helnwein“.

Helnwein, 69, is a visual artist who lives and works in Ireland and Los Angeles. He has worked as a painter, draftsman, photographer, muralist, sculptor, installation and performance artist. His work is concerned primarily with psychological and sociological anxiety, historical issues and political topics. His subject matter is the human condition. The metaphor for his art is dominated by the image of the child, particularly the wounded child, scarred physically and emotionally from within.


Notes: Art by Gottfried Helnwein on Pinterest by Rocio Jarabo 1; Quote via TheMindMovement.

 

whereon thou standest is holy ground

One viewer who did not dismiss Millet was Vincent van Gogh. In 1875, he visited a large auction show of the artist’s late pastels. Van Gogh, who had not yet fully embraced his own artistic vocation, was smitten. When he entered the room, he later wrote his brother Theo, “I felt something akin to: Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

Van Gogh was not alone in his reaction. Millet’s pursuit of humble subject matter and his skill as a draftsman would influence artists for decades. Pastels facilitated his innovations with perspective. Requiring no drying time, they were easy to rework, encouraging spontaneous expression. They also made him a virtuoso of green. “Path Through the Wheat” (c. 1867) abounds in sunlit grassy hues. Forest tones anchor two companion pieces, “Primroses” and “Dandelions” (both 1867-68), which Millet seems to have composed while lying on his stomach in the shade.

~ M.J. Anderson, from ‘French Pastels: Treasures From the Vault’ Review: Delicate and Delightful. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts presents works by Degas, Millet and others, rarely shown due to the fragility of their powdered surfaces. (wsj.com, July 14, 2018)


Notes:

  • Photo 1: ‘Path Through the Wheat’ (c. 1867), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 2: ‘Primroses’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 3: ‘Dandelions’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet

Silience (135 sec)


silience:

n. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.

Driving I-95 S. With Michelango.

Thursday. I’m heading south on I-95 to Manhattan. 5:45 am.  Pre-rush hour, traffic moving smoothly.

I’m swept back to an evening in December at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art: Michelangelo. Divine Draftsman & Artist.

My eyes pan the exhibit brochure…he was called Il Divino (“the divine one”)…the exhibit presents a stunning range and number of works…133 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures…his wood model…his earliest paintings..the exhibition presents his stunning range.

I set down my wine glass on a tray.  And, separate myself from the group.

My ears catch the sound of my footfall on the marble floors as if to scold: “Slow down Jack. You are in the presence of a God.”

I slow my pace and pause in front of a marble sculpture. His hands built this, what, 500 years ago? This Man, Michelango, created this. He was a Man, just like you. You, a Hu-Man, just like him.  And, what did you do this week? [Read more…]

Canvas once touched by the fingers of both Giorgione and Titian

‘La Vecchia’ (c.1506) by Giorgione

We stand before a canvas once touched by the fingers of both Giorgione and Titian.

I know that restorers’ fingers may long since have erased all traces of the two masters’ palms,

still it’s difficult not to be moved.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay


Notes:

I Needed Color: Free from the future. Free from the past. Free from regret. Free from worry.

What do you do when life chooses you? You can choose not to do it. You can choose to try to do something safer. Your vocation chooses you. When I really started painting a lot, I had become so obsessed, there was nowhere to move. In my home, paintings were everywhere. There were becoming part of the furniture. I was eating on them. I found myself looking around at one point, a really bleak winter in New York. It was just so depressing and I think I needed color. […]

You can tell what I love by the color of the paintings. You can tell my inner life by the darkness in some of them. You can tell by what I want by the brightness in some of them. […]

I think what makes someone an artist is they make models of their inner life. They make something physically come into being that is inspired by their emotions or their needs…

I like the independence of it. Love the freedom of it. No one else tells you what you can and can’t do…and, there’s an immediacy to it. Art has to be service, like you are servicing your subconscious…

When I was a kid I spent half my time in the living room performing for people. I spent the other half of my time in my bedroom by myself writing poetry and sketching. I was not the type of kid that you could say as a punishment: “good to your room” – because my room was Heaven to me. My isolation was welcome…

I don’t know what painting teaches me. I know it just frees me. Free from the future. Free from the past. Free from regret. Free from worry…

~ Jim Carrey, excerpts from  I Needed Color

Note to Self: Who knew that the star of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), The Mask (1994) – had this talent.


Lower your standards. Now!

Carl Richards, from Free Yourself of Your Harshest Critic, and Plow Ahead:

You’re fired. No, seriously. Pack up your stuff, and get out. But let me be clear: The job you’re fired from is one you never should have had in the first place — being a critic of your own work. Done, finished, not your job anymore. When you finish creating something and you start to wonder if it’s any good … nope! Don’t try to answer. You no longer get to decide. If you need me to fire you, awesome, consider it done. But in fact, what would be even better is if you fire yourself. Let me tell you why.

Five or six years ago, when I first started writing the weekly Sketch Guy column, I would have pieces I was certain would go viral. I said to myself, “I nailed it, everyone’s going to love it, a million people are going to share it!” And then, I would hear nothing. For some reason, it just didn’t get the play — no comments, no feedback, nothing. Then there were times when I was completely surprised in the opposite way…I had this experience enough times to realize that I was simply terrible at judging whether my work was good or not. And guess what? So are you. You’re just too close to it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to matter, as your job now officially has nothing to do with deciding if the work is good. Your job is to do the work, put it out there and let the world decide.  Now, I know that sounds scary. But let’s be dead clear about something: You’re not John Steinbeck (and neither was he, at the start). You have to get there first. And the only way to do that is through practice and criticism. But the only way to get practice and criticism is to make and share your work. This isn’t just about writing. It’s about anything meaningful you do. Singing, painting, entrepreneurship, giving financial advice, museum curating, boat building, skiing, whatever. Whatever it is, your job is to do the work, to become the best you can be. [Read more…]

When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?

David Hockney was way ahead of today’s ubiquitous selfies. In the 1980s—already famous for his painted landscapes of California pools and suburban houses—he threw himself into drawn, painted and photographed self-portraits…

At first the Hockney self-portraits showed vulnerability and self-consciousness, according to Dr. Brooks. But over the years, he adds, they showed intense self-examination. Mr. Hockney has depicted himself with his mouth wide open in surprise, with a scowl or with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth at an angle.

The results, as well as Mr. Hockney’s wider interest in photographic collage, are the main focus of “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney,” a celebration of his turning 80 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, opening in two stages, June 27 and July 18. Most of the versions of Mr. Hockney on view, though, don’t make for a cheery celebration. “I usually only draw myself in down periods,” Mr. Hockney told London’s Telegraph newspaper in 2001. “I suppose that’s why I often draw myself looking grim. I just think, ‘Let’s have a look in the mirror.’ When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?”

~ Alexandra Wolfe, from Self-Portraits and Photos for David Hockney Birthday (wsj.com, June 23, 2017)


Notes:

  • Photograph top: David Hockney with ‘Blue Terrace Los Angeles March 8th 1982’.
  • Drawing: David Hockney ‘Self Portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219), iPad drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond.

 

%d bloggers like this: