Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fish again

It's very pretty outside. An extremely bright day. 

Sharing work I've done is nice, and it's fun to do the blog. Sometimes reading what I write on the blog,  it strikes me as odd that there isn't much talk about the work, that the blog is taken up with side issues. That's ok with me.

 I don't think an artist shares, on a deep level, the personal driving things that really do motivate their work. When they  try it's often painful to hear.  If artist statements are any indication of what motivates creativity, I think those things are better left unsaid.  

Every time an art show has handed me a paper with the instructions to write a statement, my heart sinks. They're almost always so awful to read. I can only read artist statements now for the humor.  When I must write one I drag my feet over it  then finally write something terse that really says nothing at all. I do need to practice that, and someone I know whom no one could accuse of not being a serious artist said to me, "I know, they're awful. Just write something as if it's for your mother to read." 

 For most creative people, those things are so very deep and personal that dredging them up is near impossible. I believe it is counterproductive. People are complicated. Sometimes WE don't even know what is motivating us. 

 It's strange to do creative work for a living, every thing you do leads you to more questions and a bit more understanding, and yet more questions again, often with no answers. The artists who interest me most are ones who give the impression that they are still learning and still discovering. To me, they are the practitioners of the art of surrendering to the work, with the most wisdom to offer, because in their humility they open themselves up to greater discoveries than the chest-beaters who have been there and done that.  When I hear that someone has all the answers, I cannot believe them. I think they have surrendered to their ego, or what they have decided is their ego, or to something that the people around them most want or need to hear. That is understandable, though. 

The creative process isn't based on empirical data , and the motivating force inside all of us therefore remains a bit of a mystery. Dag Hammarskjold observed in his book 'Markings', about something----not the creative impulse but I have to re-read it because I remember the phrase and not what he was referring to----"It beckons as it remains hidden."  So true. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Still Life again

The weather stays cold---it warms up enough to tantalize but gets cold again the next day. In the summer here it is so hot that it seems it could never be cool again, and in the winter it's so biting cold you can't believe it will ever be warm. This is  the first place I've ever lived where you always get the feeling that it's a permanent temperature.  

This painting is dark. It's meant to be that way. 

Yesterday news came that was very sad. In the town where I used to live there was an artist named Ken Auster, and he was known for painting a variety of subject matter, but in particular his cityscapes received a good deal of attention. His interior scenes of restaurants, with barkeepers and other imagery  were very strong, and the colors attractive and sophisticated.  The times I met him he always seemed to have more energy than most people. I did not ever study with him or paint with him, or get to know him well. He painted thickly, requiring lots of paint, which I noticed right away since I use tons of paint.  (They say that when red-headed people are in a crowd they always notice each other, so maybe this is something similar) So, when I found out he sold the same paint he used (Classic Oil Paints) I began going to his studio to buy my paint, because I wasn't too thrilled with the paint I had been using. His studio was on the same street where I lived. Yesterday I found out he has died. He was not old. I don't think he was 65 yet. That's too young. 

To me he struck me each time I interacted with him as someone who had a healthy, realistic ego, and was happy about working hard. I know he did more than most people do to publicize and elevate plein air painting at a local level,  and in particular encourage paintings that were atypical---street scenes, night views, unusual vantage points---instead of the relentless 'pretty picture' disease that has done such a good job of hobbling the plein air juggernaut that has been rolling fult tilt the last few years. 

When I went to his studio to buy my paint, he was always cheery, and never idle. He taught workshops like mad and painted like mad, and organized other people like mad to do the same thing. It seemed to me that he was doing many things extremely well, which is so much harder than it looks. He died too young.