Posts Tagged ‘Miles Unger’

Gleanings before the Fire

January 6, 2022
Paddington soaking up the Fire

The two months Picasso spent in Gósol were crucial for the development of his new aesthetic. Rustic retreats . . . were essential to restoring his peace of mind, but they were usually periods of consolidation and reflection rather than innovation. They formed necessary interludes between extended stays in Paris where, plunging into the roiling cross-currents of that most intellectually stimulating environment, he was exposed to new ideas, new modes of thought. It was there that the real creative breakthroughs were made.

Miles J. Unger, Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World

This morning’s fireside time brought the above text to my reading attention. My heart always glows at the thought of a creative spirit retreating to the wilderness as Picasso did when he spent two months in the village town of Gósol high up in the Pyrenees range. This “airing out” time was good for his restless spirit as he determined a new direction for his art. I myself now seek such a clearing as I am within two weeks of starting up another semester at the university along with keeping other art-related appointments in addition to the weekly gallery responsibilities.

As I read, my mind ranged far and wide, calling up other creative spirits seeking solitude and respite from the demanding crowds of their day. Henry David Thoreau at Walden, Friedrich Nietzsche in the Alps, Martin Heidegger in the Black Forest, John the Baptist in the trans-Jordanian wilderness, Jackson Pollock in Springs, Long Island, Henri Matisse at Collioure, Paul Gauguin at Martinique. In each case we find a solitary individual seeking strength in an environement uncluttered by people flooded with discontent over everyday affairs.

Cabin in Progress

Time to get back to work. Thanks for reading.


January 3, 2022
Morning Coffee in the Living Room
Entering Studio Eidolons

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

During my REM moments this morning, I was actively drawing and watercoloring in my dream. Waking and stretching, I was already in the mood to draw and paint, but insisted on staying with my ritual–making coffee, building a fire and settling into the living room chair with Sandi and the napping dogs to read and write for a spell. I don’t know if one prepared me for the other, but the REM followed by what I read over coffee, produced a seismic quake in my imagination as words and images like jagged shards of glass thrusted and jousted among themselves to the point that I wondered where I was going to begin once I entered Studio Eidolons.

This book I’m reading by Miles J. Unger, Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World, is written so masterfully. While reading the chapter of Picasso’s transition marked by his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, I found the following words:

The story of how he arrived at this breakthrough is no less fascinating for being a tale of false starts and circuitous detours, more a case of a man feeling his way tentatively in the dark than of a hero striding boldly toward the light.

I needed that, as I was reeling from the earthquake of clashing images and ideas that I could not seem to harness before settling into my reading. This is what I had scribbled in my journal before Unger’s text set me squarely back on my feet again:

Clashing ideas, images, projects and wishes have been thrust through my consciousness since I awoke, like shards of jagged glass, like Picasso’s cubism. I have so many paintings & stories & projects slashing and clashing against each other, tearing into and ripping each other. And I wonder how on earth I can get them to fly in formation. Like E.T., I wish I could just lift a finger and make them all orbit in synchronicity. I wish I could take up my guitar, put my fingers on the right frets and strum that chord that resonates with the full-throated aesthetic beauty of all those elements working together. And then I read Unger’s description of Picasso stepping into that seam that held the disparate fabrics together before and after cubism. It appears that he stumbled his way into the discovery. Perhaps my stumbling, bumbling is OK.

Shaking off the anxieties, I am ready now to enter the studio. And as I paint, I’m sure I will find the peace and repose that always accompanies good moments in these endeavors. And who knows–maybe I’ll be able to produce something that can have a good effect on other viewers as it does on me while I’m making it. I close with these soothing words from Matisse, penned in his “Notes of a Painter” in 1908:

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.

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.