Shifting Gears

Life belongs not to those who know, but those who discover.

Le Corbusier

Sleeping only from 3 a.m. till 8 dictated a change in today’s routine. Sandi lovingly brought coffee to me while I propped up in bed to read and enjoy the snuggling pups.

Letting the Sleeping Dogs Lie

Reaching for my volume of Robert Motherwell’s Collected Writings next to the bed, I found real gold in the following interview:

The subject does not pre-exist. It emerges out of the interaction between the artist and the medium. That is why, and only how a picture can be creative, and why its conclusions cannot be predetermined.

Since Motherwell painted non-objective canvases, I could see the relevance of this remark to his paintings. However, I came to the conclusion that the same is true with my own work. For instance, I had pre-conceived ideas of how this Fort Worth flatiron was going to be presented in this picture, yet already I have made three major changes based on the way the painting was emerging. It was as though the painting had a mind of its own. I know that writers often talk about how their plots and characters change from the original plans drafted, as though the story was taking on a life of its own.

I need to return to the Martin Heidegger essay The Origin of the Work of Art. Motherwell’s statement above reminds me of Heidegger speaking of the artistic endeavor being a clash between world and earth, “world” being the artist’s visions and “earth” being the subject approached for the project. Out of the clash between the two, a work of art emerges that contains elements from both sides.

After several cups of coffee and excellent reading from Motherwell, I felt enough energy gathering to enter Studio Eidolons and figure out what to do next on this painting. Since I have spent many days tediously working on the exacting details of the architecture, I decided today would be nice to break out and try to paint surrounding trees with a flourish. The change of pace is certainly welcome, although I admit that my brush is not on automatic pilot when I work on foliage; I have to study the phenomen of trees just as carefully as the nuances of architecture. The network of light and shadow and the shift from positive to negative space in the clusters of leaves, along with the juxtaposition of warm and cool colors is taking me to an entirely different approach to watercolor. I welcome the change from what I’ve known for days, but still find myself very tentative as I seek to discover the “essence” of these trees framing the composition. Foliage brings an entirely different set of disciplines than the geometry of buildings.

Though I’m more tired now than usual, the day is turning out to be lovely all the same. For that I am grateful; another splendid day in the studio.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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