Thursday, July 23, 2015

Absolom, Absolom

I started "Absolom, Absolom" last year, just after Austin was born.  I remember reading it to him in studio.  I love the way that Faulkner wrote.  I unfortunately don't have the endurance to finish his books.  I have started three and gotten to about page 150 on each one and then I lose gas.  Today, while I was watching Austin, I happened into Longfellow Books in Portland and found a copy of "Absolom, Absolom" for my own library.  There is something about reading a book from your own library that can never be compared to borrowing the book.  You own that book.  It is yours to enjoy, feel, and love.  There is something important in starting this Faulkner over again for me; a thread that I left unravelled but not unravelled all the way to the end and not wound up again either.

It seems that my artwork is in the same headspace right now.  I am excited about the work but it seems foreign to me, like someone took all of my saved files on my computer and converted them to French.  I can still catch the gist of the work, but it is difficult to decipher and some of the motives are lost in the translation.  My time in studio has been reduced to such a great extent that I find myself feeling a bit lost, but I've begun piecing in hours.  If I can piece in hours then I will be better off.  I just need to retain my train of thought.  I suspect that I will need to write more; dictate to myself what steps I wish to take while I am creating.

I worked on two pieces today, neither of which is finished, both of which seem like steps in the right direction.  So as I sit here typing, listening to my last album of the day, Wilco "A Ghost is Born," I wonder what the next step is with this work.  I want to put up a show of new thoughts at every turn, but as I related in my last post, I think this does a disservice to the work.  Is the work really about my subject matter or about me painting my subject matter?  Would I be saying the same thing if I did 100 portraits of my son or if I were to 100 paintings of the Grapevine Epimenis?  Grad school suggests to a certain extent, yes.

There is a holiness in the pattern making.  It feels electrifying to fit myself into the spaces, but on the other hand I don't really fit into the spaces.  I haven't concerned myself with coloring in the lines totally since I was in grade school.  At the same time, I come fairly close on a regular basis.

Here is the piece from last night.  I've started to solidify the color, work in a ground which the tessellation will eventually seem to be growing out of and started to paint the succulent.  I realized two things today while I was working on the piece.  One, that I need to have the succulent in front of me if I am going to attempt a more expressive brush stroke.  The photo that I took to studio of the plant at home flattened everything, and the plant that I love felt lifeless.  I need to feel the weight in person, just like I would with a figure drawing.  Two, I realized that I needed to finish the tessellation layer as a whole the next time before I started worrying about where the additional elements might reside.  It is frustrating painting in the negative space around a subject when the ground is a pattern.  Really, it feels like two figures fighting each other; a mathematical and logical figure versus a natural progressing and aesthetically perfect logic.

I wizened up and created the tessellation before I determined where elements were going over top in this piece.  Right now the piece exists as a pleasant play between a cobalt turquoise and a yellow green.  I can already feel the weight in the tessellation, so now when I add in the succulent I feel like it will seem more like a counterweight than a figure being created in correlation to the tessellation. 

Absolom, Absolom.

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