June 26, 2004

out of the head

Sometimes you gotta get an image out of your head...


So I tooled around with the AppleWorks painting program and scribbled a bit, imaging here with a computer whereas usually I do this in my head, like forecasting several moves ahead as one does in chess:

And the first move is how the masses of color cover and relate to the aborted underpainting. Alizarin Crimson is amazing, especially when you shine a light on it. Unfortunately, I was a little confused when I put on these ribbons of color. I subverted the original intention (initial overall masses that scribe flat and fat areas of color and would serve as an oppportunity for smaller episodes of impasto events punctuating and reinforcing the initial figure) with a literal scribbling. In the confusion I did neither direction of intention any justice. So went my thought.

I didn't expect too much when I started this. I often come to a place where I both want to rely on a mental construction and simultaneously, I want to demolish it too. And so I go, alternately relying on a particular strategy, punctuated by occassional intuitive, letting-it-go, stop the chatter in my head and let the knowledge in the muscles take over (muscle head! -shut up, inner voice!-) gift of g-d kind of paintings. Paintings result from lifecycles of thought that have distinct phases (a wonder of birth, a capricious youth, the midlife, the elegaic senior... approaching senility) and the key is move with grace, through them.

And what was a surprise is that this here AppleWorks painting program has a virtual spray can function whose operation bears some comparison with the actual experience of pushing the paint masses onto the surface. Trust me on this. Scrubbing and working the image/material of painting can be simulated in a simple ubiquitous computer program! Wow. Partially, of course. And this software cartoon is only a fraction of what is going on... is going on in the paintings.

And so now a few words are in order as I recall how I would champion the temporal nature of alla prima painting, how I determined to paint in a way that was not pre-planned and known in advance. This cartooning here flies in the face of that ideal. But life is young and I painted a great many paintings just in that way, and now a tide has turned and this mock up prefiguring strategy will be good so long as I like the paintings that come from it.

Where once I flew the alla prima flag, I now add a little banner of the muralist tradition. Funny how that happens: to be so fierce for something to only find yourself one day in the territory of its' Other. Thinking in terms of prepratory sketches and a segmentation of a "picture plane"... that's Diego Rivera territory! Ok, throw in a few revolutionary guns and it would be Rivera... I just want to tip my hat to Diego. Stephanie and I (and friends Jim Brown and Lselie Ryan) had a wonderful holiday to Mexico once, where we saw Rivera's birthplace of Guanajuato and saw Rivera's and others murals in the Palace of Fiine Arts in Mexico City, many moons ago.


I like the blue/white/umber-a.crimson combination The colors are sympatico together and in that proportion particularly And to toss out the schema of landscape (blue above, brown below) was the way to go in the second and third paintings here... but I think this next one whould hang on that armature as in the first.


I've just flashed on the thought: there is a possibility of shifting horizon lines in a two pronged way to go, one as I've just described, this armature (which is simple that risks the simplistic, heaven above-earth below) and the other not as the disappearance of a horizon but an imagined shift towards the top and out of the picture plane... a virtual jump into the ocean.

Ok. Go ahead and make fun of the apparant trivial literalness: "Dennis is frolicking in a beach resort and here come the insipidly boring sweetness-of-life themes of kitch Miro and kitch Chagal"... well, I lay my arms down and stand before you defenselessly.

This place, Tossa, possesses the advantage of being built at a time when human scale was measured from face to face, lengths of human arms. And now we live in a world scaled by human imagination both satisfying and frightening. And with this here internet connection/wireless laptop, I can dive into this little hamlet. I can connect these two worlds. I can shine a spotlight on this place, bring this scale-surpassing-virtual avatar of humanity where so much life courses, this part of the information age... through the older, smaller,tighter channels of a now encrusted human habitation, what I used to call the "Human City".

One last reminder of the caveat: these thoughts are like booster rockets... they serve the purpose of getting the space ship into orbit. They are eventually jettisoned as smaller rockets in progression serve the next segment of the journey. It's not that the conceptualizations, er, rockets are to be discarded entirely, even the space capsule has smaller maneuvering rockets, but that they here serve the payload: the painting that eventually manifests itself, the experience of an actual encounter with painting... standing before art.

Posted by Dennis at June 26, 2004 2:43 AM

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