Monday, November 23, 2009

Overlapping Areas or Complexes

Doodling today. I find the extent to which drawings break down into overlapping areas or complexes with parts able to separate yet occupy more than one area interesting. In this collage doodle, the reddish brown stripe separates from everything above the top of it and also separates from the part below the bottom of it while still occupying both areas. Likewise, the middle green separates from the area above it while still occupying that area.

Some other collage doodles ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I had a long discussion about "outsider" art with some artists a few days ago; we had varying opinions on what made an artist was an "outsider" verses one using an "outsider" style. Self taught? Most artists, even those that go to school, have to self-teach technique. Remote? Maybe. But if a self-taught artist reads a lot of art theory, the artist is exposed and schooled, regardless of whether or not a teacher played the role of guide. Removed, then? That feels like a good defining point, though narrow, as long as it's more than a convenient narrative. Insane? Even more narrow; probably too narrow.

One of my former professors said it this way: once one takes a class on art, one is not an outsider (particular if the class includes any art theory/criticism) even if the class does not teach much technique (many don't). Why? What one learns changes the way one sees, and, to use a cliche, that cat can't be put back in the bag. This does not mean the work of an artist that has taken classes cannot be naive or deskilled in style --- the naive or deskilled is schooled and aware of itself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Picture Plane/Coordinate Plane

The picture plane has the potential to be a coordinate plane that is autonomous from the world. In order to fulfill this aspiration the support--the physical object that is the painting hanging from a wall in a building--cannot be the shape the dominates the experience of its contents. -- M. Fried.


All recognizable entities, paintings included, exist in three-dimensional space, the barest suggestion of which calls up associations of that kind of space and alienates the pictorial space from the literal two-dimensionality that guarantees the painting's independence as an art. -- C. Greenberg

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Sometimes a picture finds it's own color mood.


The two images, horizontal reversals of one another, have different feels from the different entry point at the right -- we tend to enter pictures there. Both images are off balance.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Social Engagement, Private Creation

How does art that takes human relations and social context as its modus operandi translate to independent and private space, where all audience but one (the artist) is absented – the object and subject of long meditation rather than momentary experience? And visa versa, engagement of the world by a piece created in very private space out of very private thoughts? Is translation possible?

The first is theoretically judged on the inter-relations (conceptual and emotional) represented, produced, prompted, communicated, provoked, and perhaps -- at its deepest either unerringly harmonious, a echo precisely and unflinchingly in tune, or critically divisive, even shunned, not merely thought or shock inducing, the envelope precisely and aggressively pushed. It aims at the external, social relations being by definition external to any one individual, and if it fails to provoke conversation, it would seem it fails.

Judgment of the second on relational terms is less direct as it may not purport to care one wit about social constructs, and dialogue beyond the artist’s dialogue with himself or herself may not be within its creative considerations. It aims at the internal, the individual by definition being only one part of social relations. It is not necessarily Utopian, and indeed may positively or darkly reflect unacknowledged social constructs that have become a part of a person. If it enters into no dialogue beyond its private beginnings, it is the tree falling in the forest with no one there to see it fall. We may still go to the forest the next day and discover the felled tree and make assumptions about how it must have fallen – a construct. Or not.

Thinking Through Stages

Stage 1 is drawn entirely digitally. It's a reminder, though, that more time is needed working with colored paper, as there's not a sufficient light complex in the organization of the image here. Stage 2 below is an attempt to accentuate a light complex, with the turquoise serving as midrange; the image as a whole, however, is less successful than in Stage 1.

Added digital capture to Stage 3, below, providing a soft graininess. Stage 3 not a full assimilation. The arc adds dimension and activates the image as a whole; however, now there is not a dark complex.
The image was darkened in Stage 4, below, to recover some darks, and a color substitution followed in Stage 5, helping to tie the image together as a whole and creating a more cartoonish appearance.

This last two are another Stage 3, with a different digital capture added to Stage 2, creating two, rather than one arc, and Stage 1 with a different digital capture.

Source and meaning?

How much does the origin of an image -- it's original identity -- matter to meaning of the work incorporating it -- its new context and assimilated identity? Embedded above is a horse from Navajo rock painting depicting a massacre, though in this incarnation, there is nothing that earmarks or acknowledges the origin. The horse shape itself is barely visible. Even more invisible is a stylized dragon from the Bayeux Tapestry -- or lion/griffin, as it was hard to tell the animal's identity in the source image I found and I could not recall the real thing from seeing it years back -- reflected in a dotted outline and looking more snake than beast. Both source images reflect exterior contexts and battles/contests, and I've set them in the interior.