Sunday, November 14, 2010

New drawing through several stages

Just finished working over the drawing begun in the previous post. At this point I'm solving mostly compositional issues -- working steadily and intuitively from my first compositional decisions, and in response to each new mark.
From the first iteration, I began creating an environment for what felt like a discrete object -- as this environment became activated I began to meld it, physically and conceptually, with the more defined areas. Then I addressed those areas, solving composition problems (i.e. fixing things that didn't feel right) and flattening the depth.

Now that I'm fairly satisfied with this piece, I'm going to scrub it away, using erasers and sandpaper to attenuate the existing marks and fields. The history left on the paper will be a bare-bones outline of my decision making, flattened in time. From here I will begin again thinking about content and form, building on the history and re-composing.

I will do this over and over. The drawings on my flickr page are all done in this manner, both the thesis drawings photoset and the 2d work photoset.

here is the same drawing after the first scrubbing
here is the same drawing, 2nd composition

Friday, November 12, 2010

New drawing, stage one...

So I started a new drawing this morning -- these current drawings are 42" wide by 72" tall. Here is a picture:
 Stage one of these drawings is usually pretty intuitive: I look for patterns and shapes to emerge from "gestural" marks (for me, marks that are made which try to describe something non-visual) -- this one is a bit of an exception -- I am beginning with a flattened version of a composition I've already worked out on a painting, and with a little color, and even a working title (cradle).

Of course, once I've resolved this stage of the drawing it will be worked over with erasers and sandpaper, and the resulting history interpreted and worked from. It's content/meaning (for me) could change drastically over the several workings, and it will become much more like the finished (almost finished?) drawings it sits next to in my studio:

About my current work

 So here is an introduction to the work I am doing here at OCAC for my thesis. First: the idea of the "thesis", in this context, is (basically) a body of visual work which includes a written rationale and is overseen by a committee of faculty members.
Basically we're proving that we can create a cohesive body of work, and defend it. What follows is my own thesis proposal; if you can make it through (it's pretty dry, sorry), I think it may put some of the work you may see on my flickr account in context. I am also very interested in any questions or reactions anyone may have.
 "I propose to create a body of work including drawings, paintings, and ceramic sculpture. The connections between the works will be both formal elements -- monochromatic color schemes, human scale, and non-representational or non-objective imagery -- and a dialogue between the pieces in regards to forms and textures both hinted at in two-dimensional work and made manifest in ceramic. This dialogue happens through the simultaneous working of multiple pieces, working from the same source materials, and cross-examining each piece against the others as they are worked as both investigation and validation.
I envision 4-6 pieces each of drawings, paintings, and sculptures. The drawings themselves are a kind of center to the work, generative and problem-solving, created through a process I can best describe as a non-aleatoric "automatic writing", while the paintings and sculptures focus most on investigations of color and form, respectively, as evocative of emotional states.
My source materials are several, involving both anxiety and tonic. I explore my own anxiety disorder and depression (as well resultant peripheral issues and personal experiences) by accessing and working in personal emotional states and dream imagery -- the emotional states and dreams which both terrify and isolate. The other source materials are forms and colors I find in the world which act as a kind of tonic -- which calm and normalize. I want to transfer this conversation between the inner and the outer -- isolation and openness -- to the work. I will also be writing about the pieces as they evolve and pertinent autobiographical elements (for my personal use to inform my work) as well as developing my rationale through examining the writings of artists who have worked similarly.
My investigations and source materials act as a seed and as a guide to the formal decisions I make in the works as they evolve. Since the work is not meant to be about anxiety, depression, etc. per se, (i.e. I am not meaning to communicate a point of view on these issues or even to necessarily bring them up as discourse) I am comfortable leaving symbology and repeated themes in the works unstated and allowing viewers to interpret the internal logic between the works as well as their own personal emotional reaction and involvement.
I am open to many possibilities of change in direction as the pieces evolve. Perhaps I will drop or pick up another medium, or a sub-group of themes may take precedence and dominate my original concept. Perhaps I will work with mixed media, though there is an aspect of "purity" of each medium: clay, charcoal and paper, oil and panel which speaks to the more stark, monochromatic aspects of what I envision. I am open to the possibility of narrative emerging, or perhaps even discernable objects in the 2d work -- etc.
I currently envision the final pieces being shown together in a gallery setting where they occupy and create their own space. These final pieces, my finished thesis, need not be about "anxiety and tonic", necessarily; I am not intending them to be. I hope to create work that involves the viewer emotionally and physically in the manner of my own anxiety/tonic relationship with the world. The end of the thesis itself, as well as its beginning, should be exploratory and generative."

Good feelings...

So in the day and a half since I first began officially promoting my cause I've had five donations to my Kapipal site, several other people have contacted me to donate in-person, and one anonymous donation that appeared in my school mailbox. Aside from material support, I have also received a lot of moral support on this--much more than I had expected--and it is just as helpful.

Thanks, everyone. The support is wonderful, and it's very heartening how quickly a community is coalescing to help. Please keep up with my site and see how it's progressing, and please keep spreading the word.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thoughts on process and content

So I've been reading The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell (Oxford University Press 1992 ed. Stephanie Terenzio) -- some of the best writing on art from an artist I've ever come across.

"I begin a painting with a series of mistakes. The painting comes out of the correction of mistakes by feeling. I begin with shapes and colors which are not related internally nor to the external world; I work without images. Ultimate unifications come about through modulation of the surface by innumerable trials and errors. The final picture is the process arrested at the moment when what I was looking for flashes into view. My pictures have layers of mistakes buried in them--an X-ray would disclose crimes--layers of consciousness, of willing. The are a succession of humiliations resulting from the realization that only in a state of quickened subjectivity--of freedom from conscious notions, and with what I always suppose to be secondary or accidental colors and shapes--do I find the unknown, which nevertheless I recognize when I come upon it, for which I am always searching... the closer one gets to the absolute, the more mercilessly all the weaknesses of my work are revealed."

I love the idea of a work beginning as "a series of mistakes" and "correction of mistakes by feeling". He describes the process of working without an agenda (i.e. overt social or political statement) and the process through which decisions are made honestly and beautifully.

I work my two-dimensional work in a very similar manner -- though right now I do begin with intended forms and emotions, trying to balance aleatoric and intentional approaches. Those innumerable trials and errors -- that history -- is as much a part of the piece as the "finished" presentation. I like to take that to another level, as well, constantly working on multiple pieces in several mediums which (deliberately) engage each other in feedback loops.

I've had a lot of trouble with this one myself. People will ask, especially when one works non-objectively or very abstractly, "What is this about?". We (especially formally taught artists, but also Americans in general) are trained to approach engagement with an artwork as a process of accessing content -- that the only possible "work of the work" (thank you, Walter Benjamin), it's purpose, is to either promote a certain agenda or to be some sort of commentary on the structure it exists within.

Now, one could argue that any artwork promotes an agenda, or is self-reflexive; any idea, of course, has a relationship to the worldview-paradigm it exists in. But to work outside of that intentionality -- this makes a work (and it's "work") difficult to describe, as even the structure of description (and hence, validation) exists within the "engagement to access content" paradigm.

Updated Flickr Photostream

So I've uploaded lots of recent work to my flickr account, including thesis work - take a look! Here are some of my favorites:

and then:
and then
and then and then and then

All of these are from this year -- check out my flickr photostream to see more...