September 16, 2003

Weekend Warrior

Yea, yea... I know that in the last post, I indicated a schema that I would use to go after this painting. And I did use it, after much hesitation. I was wary of simplistically forcing a mere rendering of that earlier work on paper. I didn't want to automatically scale up the schema and I didn't want to muscle paint aimlessly on the larger panel in the fruitless hope that the charm of kismet will find me again. So, I stared at things in my studio, in between short bouts of practical procrastination (cooking/eating, listening to music, some tv, surfing the internet), all the while foregoing social engagements and other extra-urban recreation. I didn't want my focus to drift, the imperative of the studio to wane. Even though there were mundane distractions, I wanted to be stuck to the task at hand in the studio like flypaper.
(This image shot with lights on either side.)

My thoughts ricocheted between two directions:

The schema (the octopus like image of the last work on paper): slapping on white, then black over a pink ground... with the circles of brushwork reinforcing the (gravitational) inflection of the horizontal with tendrils of the "little stomps" hanging below, driven into the blackness.
Versus the impulse that animated the last work on paper, which was the intermixing slap of troweling, flinging, stomping, printing, monading... something that is closer to the work done and seen on the August 9th blogpost.

So what I did as the hour went nigh, was to lay down the pink base, following the rails of the schema. As the pink went down, then the white, then the black, I knew the August 9th painting option was gone. The spread of paint over the whole surface undercut the spirit of that direction. And as I began to make the subsequent moves: brushwork and tendril-stomps... I realized it was a dead end.
I had to stop and reassess, I had to find a third way. The pink base was down, the black was strong. Those little stomps were strong, too. I took those qualities and ran.

I covered the surface with the black, then a black tempered with burnt umber to deepen the field. Then I changed the direction of the stomps to the horizontality that the seam of the old linen compelled. A small gaggle of stomps soon filled the surface, pulling back from some edges so as to not to presume an absolute totality. All other "moves" on the surface would have to be subordinated to them. Little highlights of green were flicked in the heart of each little stomp. Paler green monads edited distracting extraneous detail. Then finally, thin blue ribbons were flung to underline the horizontality and animate the field of little stomps.
And soon, I had something remotely resembling a monochrome. But I know nothing of that world (many other painters in my gallery in LA seem to live and die by that term). All I know is that there are objects and there are fields for our mind/eyes that makes sense of the world. This time, what made sense for me, what seemed inevitable, what had the feel of kismet, was a field of little stomps.

Posted by Dennis at September 16, 2003 11:13 AM

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