October 15, 2013
Working on a Billy the Kid sculpture this morning, doing sketches for Deb Gesner at Bronzesmith, who is doing her usual, brilliant translation of my crude sketches. Speaking of which:
Warning: Painting Pontification Ahead
It is not easy to let go when you are trying to make something that is important to you. Pablo Picasso said, "It took me four years to paint like Rafael and all my life to paint like a child." Or, something like that. The point being, artifice is ultimately stilted and fake, no matter how much skill or schooling is applied.
A couple weeks ago I went into Phoenix for a meeting and took advantage of being in the Beast by dropping into Arizona Art Supply to stock up on an assortment of watercolor papers. I spent about $200 on this, buying big tablets and little postcard blocks of paper (one block literally has postcard lines and info on the other side so you can mail it). My goal with this is to do a batch of starter paintings—"without hope, without despair"—in the hopes of finding a few honest passages I might build on. By honest passages I mean, the accidental puddles and the gradations that have a certain integrity, or, HONESTY that often dies as soon as you TRY to make it into something.
So, this morning I whipped out a bunch of small, patina starters to get the juices flowing.
As I said, the key here is to let go and not worry about where it's going. On several of these I painted with my opposite hand (my right) to try and break loose of my left-brain, linear thinking.
I have become a firm believer in painting myself into a corner and trying to get out, which is a technique I learned from a Tucson git-picker at the Red Rooster Bar on the Old Benson Highway. That was his answer when I asked how he played such crazy leads in the honkytonk band we were both slumming in. I recently read that people with musical training are more successful in life because they know how to listen; they know how to collaborate with others; and they know how to explore problem solving in a creative way (by playing, or painting, yourself into a corner).
Do drummers count? In this equation? Not sure, but I'll take it anyway.
Here is an honest patina, done quickly with right-brain fever:
Daily Whipout, "Honest Patina, Fire Study"
And here is an honest patina gone bad:
Daily Whipout, "Honest Patina, Mickey Free Set Piece #3"
Daily Whipout, "Cliffhanger Opening for Mickey Free Graphic Cinema in 2010"
Notice how I completely killed the subtleness of the cliffs by overworking everything. Crazy bad. Much mud. Much regret. I need to channel the child, keep it loosey goosey and trust my instincts to let go.
Or, as some Zen guy put it:
"Your grip should be like autumn leaves blown by a storm."