January 19, 2004

Nameless as Yet

Most of today was consumed with the task of shopping for a second laptop computer for Stephanie (and the house), sorting which Apple to buy. She will need her own machine with which to conduct her business.

Most of last week was a torque to a climax of painting, which occurred during the weekend. I let it lay on sawhorses so the paint can jell and solidify a little more before I hang it up.

Aqui esta, standing it up briefly for a photo:
I worked first thinking of an image that caught-my-eye, the Bertolucci movie poster-posted earlier. I jettisoned the thought as you can see (or won't see). For those who might be taken aback at a movie poster as a touchstone, let it be known that I think you have to pay attention to the things in the world that catch your eye, no matter where it comes from high or low. Also, movie posters have this peculiar pictorial logic, in this case, I'm referring to the orchestration of color and mass: pinks and yellows and flesh colors with a punctuation of black that moves the eye around in circles like the blobs of a lava lamp.

Funny. I remember that when I was a kid, I rejected movie posters as a subject for emulation because of the formulatic qualities of them, and a feckless way image piled onto image like an ice cream sundae. Here however, I'm attracted to how image as color masses stack and arrange... the sundae became a lava lamp in that particular poster, an apparent motion detoxified the pop venacular for me forty years later.

What I did navigate by- was a painting in ochre that I painted earlier last month. It was from a series that hung on the armature of the (self) portrait. Most times, it seems that I work this way: finding a motif as motive, a way to begin, a launch into the work, a track on a bead of inspiration that initiates a trek, (go ahead, write it Dennis, but write it with a referential self depreciating irony a la the line from the "Blues Brothers" movie...) a mission from G-d.
Back to the point: whilst I may take an inspiration to its conclusion, most of the time it remains a site of navigation, or something to use to gain acceleration from, like a gravitational sling that interplanetary spacecraft use. It gets me going into the thick of painting. Indeed, I am looking for the breakout, for the aspects of the painting that takes it to another place altogether. Sometimes I force it, subjecting the initiating inspiration to alternate ordinates. In the case of this painting, I was morphing the schema of portrait towards a schema of landscape.
All of this is to describe the beginning of painting a painting (for me). There is a second phase, after I begin to sling away from the gravitational pull of the first inspiration, there is a misting or thickening. In the work of the past year, I've been looking for a density of paint, a crush of pigmented mass. Since I work with a surplus articulation of painterly marks, this takes time. And since I'm painting alla prima (whilst its wet, a hat tip to the Impressionists), time is something you struggle against. So, the second phase described here is a fervent accululation of articulated density. This density is a preparation for the third and final phase: big slammin' asteroid hits, the rocking, pounding, stomping flower blooms of paint that have been a significant feature for a year now.
Whilst this was a favored approach, this particular painting didin't unfold this way. I was looking for fields of brushed red and pounded flower blooms of black to punctuate it here and there... but thirty hours into it, I saw that there was the beginning of a skin forming on the surface. As the paint dries, the surface evaporates volitile petrochemicals and the linseed oil begins to congeal. The surface begins to form a soft skin, like a hot chocolate drink does as it cools. I could have worked into it, but the inevitable granulation paint into tiny chunks bugs the hell out of me.
Crisis time. Thirty hours and the window was closing. The probabliity of scrape down loomed large because I wasn't going to get to the stomping grounds I had planned to do. But I liked what was there. I liked it and I had to find the other painting, part of which I was seeing and appreciating already.

I wanted to cut a couple of large holes into it, to let it breathe. Maybe by this, I can get the rest of what I liked in it to be seen by others too. I scoop the surface with a stiff piece of cardboard in which I cut into a suitable shape for the job. Big scoops are risky. I can anticipate the general properties of shape, buti won't know the character of it- weak or strong- until it's done.
And it's done.

And I liked it.

And I like it.

Posted by Dennis at January 19, 2004 6:53 PM

1 Comment

the skin atop hot chocolate milk we call nata in spanish I thaught it was a cool word for your work.


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