Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stuart Davis at Dawn, Grids All Over, and Time Slipping by the wayside.

I left for studio without making coffee this morning.  I didn't have the patience.  When I reached studio I felt like I needed a boost.  I was very slow about my work and lackadaisical.  I could feel myself wanting to start new totems, to assemble my horizontal stripe pieces and to continue painting grids.  I had emailed Sohns Gallery an update of the work that I have been preparing for the May show yesterday.  The response was very positive, so I wanted to keep that project on track.  This project is multifaceted, however.   It is not so simple as to just finish one or two things or continue working in the same vein.  I have started to create a body of work which merges disparate concepts and unifies them. 

During a break, I started to read from Stuart Davis's notebooks.  I was taken by his unapologetic classification as a painter, his ability to discern between craftspeople and artists, and most of all with his statements on what painting is.  He claimed that a painting could be made of anything, but that the replication of nature is impossible.  You are left with a surface and layers of paint, which has an inherently different make-up than the objects that an artist attempts to recreate from life.  He also claimed that a painting must contain the emotion of the artist without being subject to every aspect of feeling that the artist may feel in their up and downs.

It was necessary reading for the morning.  When I am troubled about what it is that I should be doing, it is nice to get that little ray of focus.  It also made me wonder if there was any way that I was really including emotion in my grid pieces.  Are they a painting on their own or merely a ground?  Would I show them by themselves or is it necessary to hang work over them?  Do the pieces that I hang over the top of the grid work retain their own autonomous function or are they only visible as a part of the whole?

Here are a couple updated images of the work for Sohns.

I hope to get the rest of this work assembled within the next week.  I am not sure how I am connecting the paintings to the grid (physically).  There are still so many questions to answer.  I'll try to keep up a bit better here.  My head has been all over the place.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Early Mornings, Day Dreaming, and Listening to Minor Threat During Class

My schedule has changed.  I have added another job.  It seems like this could be a bad time to do so, but as my time shrinks my desire to work grows.  Every time in my life that I start to feel overworked or stressed, in a tight position, I find my work serving as a catharsis.  It starts to grow and change with me and helps me see what I should do and what could work better.

As a result of the new position I have started getting up at 5:30 in the morning and getting to studio at 6:00 or a little after.  I have been able to wake up with a brush in my hand and work through some of the patterns that I have been seeing everywhere.  I have been obsessed with the idea of hanging my new show on an awkward grid of painted panels.  I think that it will serve to locate all of the diverse concepts that I have been thinking about into a united theme.

Here are some images of the grids.

The process is taking a while and I really only have another three weeks to work on this show.  I am glad that I made this breakthrough this week.  If it had happened any later I wouldn't be able to even come close to finishing the work in time.  As it is, should I not finish in time, I am resigned to finish it at some other point.  This work is some of my favorite that I have finished up to this point.

Keep up.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good and Big

Last night I had a First Friday Open Studio event at my studio in the State Theater Building with my good friend Shirah.  We split the studio walls down the middle and put her work up on one half and mine on the other.  We did not have many visitors, a few good friends who stayed for a bit but not many outside folk.  What we did have, however, was an opportunity to power clean the studio and hang up all of the work that has been going on in the space.

I've devoted the last couple weeks to a bunch of totems, which I can draw at home.  Working at home is becoming more and more useful as my wife approaches her 33rd week of pregnancy.  Meanwhile I've been filling in the time with several books on the Navajo, Athapascans and some of the Northwest Tribes.  It is strange to be reading Navajo legend while working on totems.  Their tribe didn't make totem poles, sand paintings, yes, but no totem poles.  However, the legends and spirit of the nation has been influencing me a great deal.  The Navajo are only known as the Navajo in that the Spaniards residing in the Southwest named them as such.  They refer to themselves as the Dene, or people of the earth. 

This clash of identities is compelling to take on in the respects of being an artist.  During my open studio I asked that my shop be called The Mighty Lark, which is my art making moniker, but the building operator put me down as Michael Lewis and called my business name Mighty Lark.  I do not really think of the Mighty Lark as my business.  I am the Mighty Lark, just not when I am cooking or teaching, only when I am creating artwork and living with my pieces.  With this in mind, my own personal mythologies are starting to come out in force in my new series of totem pieces.  I am going to hang them as an allover pattern and try to take up an entire wall.

Here is an image of them in progress.

They are adding up quickly.  It is the most exciting thing that I am currently working on.  I have also been working more on the laterally divided pieces for Sohn's gallery.  Here is an update of the most recent piece in that series.

I started painting this work opaquely this morning.  Having made that decision there is still more work to do, but I think that the quality of the piece is definitely improving with that change.  If nothing else it is helping me understand what these lighthouse character and squid characters are to me. 

The work is coming along, as is my research.  I finally feel as though I am heading down a path that I understand and desire to take viewers down.  This is a big step.  All of my blog posts in the past six months seem to mention something about big steps.  I don't know if everything that I mention really is a big step or not, but it does feel good, and big, today.