Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fighting Falseness

February 10, 2013
   Watched a two-part documentary on Woody Allen and his many, many movies (he has done a movie a year for the past forty-some years. To cover his long career, the doc is two discs and three hours long!). We forget how many movies and how long he has been doing films. Anyway, he goes on at length about how hard it is to get even a moment of honesty, or reality, on the screen. Even with people working at the top of their game, both in front of and behind the camera, everything conspires to look false and fake.

  The same is true in writing (it's very, very hard to keep even one character alive on a page, much less two, or three). And, believe me, I know how hard it is to get integrity into a drawing or painting to make it come alive. Most people mistake craftsmanship for art. When someone remarks, "It looks just like a photograph," it's usually a sign of craftsmanship, not art.

  I've found that in order to get ANY integrity down on paper I have to work really fast and loose to fool the left side of my brain (the linear, logical side that is obsessed with a chair looking like a chair). I have been studying and noodling the idea of the lone kitchen light in recent weeks and have posted a half dozen attempts so far. The problem is, it looks too contrived and fake. This weekend I decided to attack the twilight sky idea on a broad front and pulled out fourteen different boards to see what I could come up with in terms of an underpainting. Here they are:

Some very different approaches, some better than others. I'll be taking these, one by one to the next stage and perhaps one of them will have an ounce of the integrity I seek. I was very sloppy when doing these and left a pretty big mess on my art desk, which, when I got to looking at it, has more integrity, in some ways, than the actual paintings!

How's that for a lone, kitchen light? Ha. Full disclosure, I did tweak it slightly when I realized how honest and pure the haphazard paint had fallen, mostly isolating the yellow light at center. Now, here is the amazing part. When I went to clean it up, well, this has even more integrity than the happy accident.

Why? Because the swirls are honest and without artifice and intention. Not sure how I bottle this, or even borrow this, but I sure wish I had the integrity to seek this out to the logical end. Gee, I wonder what ol' Henry has to say about this?

"There is only one recipe—to care a great deal for the cookery."
—Henry James