At lunch this week a dear friend encouraged me to relax some of the restraints I was applying to the more frivolous vein in which I am tempted to work. I am fond of the lavish work of people like Gustav Klimt, William Morris, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I like Liberty prints and small paisleys and small flowery design on wall paper. Illuminated manuscripts, Islamic design, all these are complex, highly detailed and decorative arts. I delight in them. And if I just give in to the inclination, that kind of decorative pattern making will flow into my painting.
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum was housed in my alma mater, The Cooper Union. I looked at fabrics and wallpaper and whatever artifacts were displayed there during breaks from class. Then I went back to being a budding abstract expressionist because that is what were trying to be back then. And long after that I became the person who loves and respects the art of minimalists like Ellsworth Kelly and the beautiful and rich simplicity of Sean Scully. No wonder it gets confusing.
I don’t need art to have “meaning”. My choice in reading is mostly fiction which I read for the pleasure of it. It doesn’t matter that this reading is sometimes about tragic lives; the enjoyment of the experience is that it that transports you to a place outside yourself. I will leave to people who know more of human psychology than I to explain why we take that trip watching the small screen or large, by reading of others’ lives, real or imagined, or any of the other ways we find to rest away from our own routines or cares for a moment. Goodbye reality, enough for now. May blessings rain on Netflix and my local library. What luxuries they are.
But I have digressed. I went to my studio after the above mentioned lunch conversation and back to work on a painting that had gone wrong and lost its promise. I decorated it freely and it began to resurrect. Then I gave it some structure (it needed discipline) and it came alive. After that I finished (almost) the two I have posted above. They and the one I just described (at left) are mavericks, far less structured than the others in this series of thirty-two pieces I am focused on now.
I try to keep this blog from becoming personal; I would prefer to keep it about art and life, and I would like to keep it short. A losing battle, both.
These three paintings are still untitled, not yet finished and included in the Structures series currently in progress, mixed media works, 26” x 20” each.