As I mentioned in my last blog post, at the Phoenix Art Museum, I happened upon a great sketching opportunity - a lovely dancer in frequently changing dynamic poses. I love to draw from life. Drawing from photos just doesn't compare. Only in life does one get such light and space. In the process of visualizing the shapes and angles in three-dimensional space, I lose myself. Only a live model brings her life energy to the sketch. As you could see from my last blog, I spent hours in quick sketches, but wanted more. So I asked her to model for me. She liked the idea too! I was thrilled. Here is a figure drawing of Stephanie during our first studio time together. What a fabulous model Stephanie is - beautiful inside and out. We plan to have more sessions in the months to come. I'll share my drawings and you'll get to enjoy her more too.
Quiet Conversations I and II were my last paintings of 2015, each 36" x 48", to be hung side by side horizontally. I enjoyed combining the looser green/blue/yellow/violet abstract with the geometric female figures so that they alternately merge and emerge. They convey intimate communication between friends. I hope the holidays have offered you too quality time with friends and family. Here's to embracing what 2016 will bring.
Last week, I was in Palm Springs for the 2015 International Film Festival. Fabulous films. Such a beautifully organized event with astoundingly effective graphic design of a ton of information. While in town, we enjoyed fabulous architecture, fashion, food, furniture, jewelry, paintings, and sculpture, too. Stunning visual design everywhere. Here are a few glimpses of humble window display designs that were awesome. I love fabulous design wherever it is.
Frilly pink poodle at Ooh La La on Palm Canyon Drive
In Feb 2013 issue of The Sun, I recently read Wrong Turn, Mark Leviton's interview with Rupert Sheldrake, author of Science Set Free. You can read more at sheldrake.org. In this interview, Rupert Sheldrake discusses his concept of "morphic resonance" similar to "Carl Jung's concept of collective unconscious or Hinduism's akashic records, which store all knowledge on another plane of existence."
Watching surfers, I was reminded of Sheldrake's idea that my individual perception/experience/memory is one with all in space and time. I perceive this concept visually - each moment a hologram of the totality.
In the split second of this surfer's courage and enthusiasm is, was, and will always be the totality of eternity. I am reminded of Course in Miracle's "Nothing real can be threatened. Therein lies the peace of God." Live in fearlessness. Go for it! Take the risk! Dive right in! Enthusiasm is God in us. Such a beautiful irony - in Love, taking and giving are one! Like all who came before him and all who come after him, this surfer, immersed in the joy and fearlessness of the moment, gives the same to me and everyone. We are truly One. In this way, when I nourish myself, I nourish you. When you nourish yourself, you nourish me.
I think this is the reason that I experience each painting as a grand discovery - a surrender. Each image truly manifests through me, but not from me. Each image is brand new and yet has existed in all beings through all time.
Life, love, reality is beyond amazing!
On Wednesday, an unexpected delight fell from the sky in Phoenix - graupel. Graupel is a form of soft hail – a mix of ice and snow. Out of the blue, in the middle of the afternoon, a storm broke pelting rooftops and blanketing the city in white. At a local school, classroom doors were thrown open. Throngs of amazed children rushed to see the unbelievable. This couldn't happen, but it did. The whole city came alive. It was as though an entire population was witnessing a miracle and the remarkable energy was palpable. No one could recollect snow falling on a February afternoon in Phoenix, "the city that rose from ashes".
Tiny sparkling pellets of ice accumulated on every horizontal surface. They reminded me of diamonds. Yes, on Wednesday, diamonds fell from the desert sky.
What an unexpected gift, sent to remind me that anything is possible. The whole experience generated the wonder that I feel in every painting. I revel in the flow of water into unpredictable patterns that merge into lines and hues that I never could have designed. This is the exhilaration of painting with water media.
I am reminded to embrace each moment – to remain open to finding the value in each brushstroke and the flow that results from every spritz of water. If I stay stuck in that which I already know, I cannot discover that which I seek. If I fear the unknown, then I will block that which the universe offers. Graupel in Phoenix reminded me to stay open to the new and to embrace the unfamiliar. Experimentation fuels innovation. There are no mistakes – only discoveries.
I was late and arrived while the model was in the midst of her second of quick two-minute poses. The room was full of standing and sitting easels in front of which were those, who after long hours in classes or day jobs, like me, sacrificed evening relaxation to cultivate drawing the human figure. Once I got situated, my first goal was to see again – it was like getting back on a bicycle after not riding for a long while.
Like balancing on two wheels, I aimed to find a middle ground between accuracy and loose gesture. During my last stint of regular figure drawing, I learned not to focus on any one part during quick poses. Instead, I focused on the whole movement and direction of the body. After the first quick poses, there was a series of five-minute poses, when, in addition to the gesture, I tried to capture the main shapes. When the model arrived at the ten-minute poses, I was able to add smaller shapes within the larger ones. During the twenty-minute poses, I tried to integrate all three and apply greater attention to light and shadow.
In the same way that hearing, practicing musical scales, and proficiency with one’s instrument are basics of music, seeing and drawing is the foundation of visual art. The human body is commonly considered the most difficult subject, although to me, the same principles apply to all drawing, whether landscape, still life, or the human figure.
Some may have the impression that drawing is a relaxing activity. And it can be. But, for me, short-pose gesture drawing is training in speed and accuracy because when time is up, the pose is gone – no going back. Three hours of it takes a great deal of physical and psychic energy. During a break, I commented, “A workout at the gym would be easier.” My easel neighbor nodded knowingly. During poses, there was absolute silence in the room. During short breaks, along with everyone else, I stood back from the effort, walked away from the easel for perspective, yawned in weariness, stretched, bent over, and twisted the tension from my spine. When the model was posing, there was complete concentration - no sounds except pencils dancing on paper trying to capture the gesture, the shapes, the proportions of the female model.
Drawing entails the perception of both positive and negative shapes, while visually comparing their angles’ sizes and directions – the goal being to reproduce that which my eye sees. The real challenge is to subdue my mind’s habitual interpretations so that my actual visual perception is allowed to lead. At first, it takes a degree of concentration that can be taxing, but, at some point, the eye takes over and the hand follows. The mind is completely and solely engaged in translating visual information with the hand. No other thoughts accompany this process.
Drawing from live-model short poses is wonderful exercise in seeing. I love the complexity of the human body - the angles, the curves, the play of light on the surface. When I first started to attend live-model figure drawing on a regular basis, I thought that if I were any good, I might come away with a few pieces that were “good”. Although I am pleased when satisfying results are achieved, that is no longer my goal. Instead, I’ve come to believe that in order to enjoy the possibility of this pleasure, each time I show up at the paper, pencil in hand, I must relinquish the desire for “a perfect result”. Instead, moment-to-moment, I must become as humbly and fully engaged in translating the visual world as is a court reporter in transcribing the verbal world of the courtroom.
But how does such objectivity dance with the subjectivity of the heart. Ah, that is the magic. Everyone’s results are as different as our signatures. In drawing, I find there is no need to concern with conveying emotion. The heart naturally expresses itself in every slow mark or flourish. My emotional being in that moment, my subconscious relationship with that which the subject represents in my life is as inherent as the breath and beat of the heart. In the same way that a dream reflects the subconscious, the hand inevitably conveys the heart.
Jan 23, 2013
This past weekend, as part of a Spirit of the Senses salon held at the Bentley Projects Gallery in Downtown Phoenix, Mark Pomilio discussed his art with the participants. Mr. Pomilio described the evolution of his current body of work consisting of large charcoal geometric drawings on paper that were then mounted and displayed on more than one intersecting plane. In his description, he alluded to the various tests and experimentation needed to develop solutions to problems of materials and engineering. As I listened to his description of the evolution of his work, I was acutely reminded of the inevitability of change, not only in the natural world, but also in our creative process. And change means risk – the risk to try something new and to experience the unfamiliar.
Mark’s multi-planed pieces inspired in me the momentum to move forward with some ideas that have been fermenting in my own process for some time. My own creative juices flowed. The intersecting planes of his pieces confirmed the possibility, and even certainty, that solutions do exist. For some time, tossing and turning in my mind’s eye has been the restless idea of combining the acrylic/watercolor techniques that I’ve been developing for awhile with a dimensional surface. But how? Until now, I had not yet actually undertaken the experimentation needed to discover a means of accomplishing my vision. Today, that vision took a significant mental leap.
With this leap, I am also reminded of the power of sharing with others. For a while, I have tended to isolation, but this past weekend, springing from the seed of my willingness to experience something new i.e. Artlink’s second annual Collector’s Tour, the universe coalesced to provide the psychic fuel that sparked
my own creative experimentation. That psychic fuel was listening to Mr. Pomilio and viewing his work.
Youth - New Work by Bob Adams
On Phoenix’s Artlink email list, about a week prior, I received an announcement of the Collector’s Tour of three downtown galleries, including talks by a curator and critic, Robrt Pela and artists: Mark Pomilio, Matt Dougan, Linda Ingraham, and Bob Adams. I suspected that exposure to the larger art world, from which I have been typically quite removed, might be useful and perhaps awakening. I figured as an obscure part of the art marketing world myself, the more I understood of the larger world the better. I needed to explore. Hearing artists speak about their work would be illuminating - fodder for my own growth as an artist. So I signed up.
I worked at my other job in the morning and then sat at my gallery until 5 pm. Aftterwards, I zipped home, threw together a quick dinner, and hurried to meet the group in front of the Art Museum at 7:00 pm. Upon my arrival, no one was there. Yep, I was late. I had recalled the incorrect departure time. OK, maybe I’m not supposed to do this, I thought to myself. Nevertheless, mostly because I don’t quit easily, I persevered, calling the contact phone number, to find out where I might meet the group. Bob, one of the event coordinators, explained that the group had departed from the museum an hour earlier, at 6 pm, and were now just leaving the Bentley Projects Gallery. They would be at the MonOrchid Gallery shortly. Willo North after that.
Darn, I thought to myself, the Bentley Projects Gallery was the place I had most wanted to visit – ever since I had first heard about it from Peter Fehler, publisher of Art Ltd magazine, at Art Santa Fe this past July. You might understandably wonder why I, an artist residing in downtown Phoenix, was not already aware of the Bentley Project? Well, like I said, for quite a while, I have been pretty much an artistic recluse. Anyway, not to get off on a tangent (although it’s hard not to see every tangent touching where I am now) I found my way to the MonOrchid. I supposed that I was not meant to go to the Bentley Gallery – at least not tonight.
In a few minutes the group arrived. It turned out that an artist acquaintance, on a whim, had also decided to participate. We viewed the work of the two exhibiting photographic artists. As serendipity would have it, one of the artists showing, now a fairly well-known local artist, I had met thirty years ago when she was an unknown, though she did not recognize me. Each artist’s exhibit reflected their interests, Texas transportation and pieces of old vehicles and gas pumps. Each offered a window to them as people. While there, however, I struck up a conversation with a woman who happened to know that the Bentley Gallery would be open the following morning, Saturday, at 11:00 am. At that time, she explained, one of the exhibiting artists, Mark Pomilio, would be presenting his work in person as one of the Spirit of the Senses salon series. I asked about the Spirit of the Senses salons and I was intrigued. I determined to attend and, the next morning.
All of this is a long story about how one occurrence leads to another – serendipity - synchronicity. Everything is connected. There is a purpose for everything – even a late arrival. If I had been on time, and if I had visited the Bentley Gallery as part of the Collector’s Tour, I would not have been motivated to go over there on Saturday morning. I would not have had the opportunity to hear Mark Pomilio discuss in depth, for close to an hour, his art, process, and journey. See next post. My creative tank would not have been refueled. That encounter would not have ignited the propulsion of my own artistic vision.
I’m working on a new painting called “Stepping Out”. The image came to me weeks ago, before I realized that I would actually be “stepping out”. But for me, this is the way with drawing. My soul knows before my mind or my hand. Anyway, a few days ago, playing with texture, I overworked the ground before it was dry. There was a yucky rough spot on the surface. Throwing caution to the balmy breeze, I experimented with a strategy that I had not previously considered when painting - wet sanding with a fine sandpaper. To my delight, the rough spot easily smoothed while at the same time offering some effects that I liked. See photo. I don’t yet know where it will go from here, but in the midst of sanding, for a moment, I uncharacteristically stepped outside of the process of sanding long enough to realize that this might be interesting to someone other than me. Later, considering this moment, I realized that I have had a lifetime habit of putting one foot in front of the other without considering whether my actions may be worthy of noting or describing to anyone else. In fact, I have generally viewed attracting as little attention to myself as possible as an effective means of maintaining my freedom. I don't know if this is a general characteristic of the pre-social media baby-boomers like me or, instead, a trait specific to introverts.
Either way, I have decided that to blog successfully, when going about daily life, I must continue to cultivate the awareness to step outside of a moment long enough to determine if what I'm doing may be of interest or use to others. So, in a way, this blog is a “multi-level opportunity”. Writing down the episodes of my journey, I will share ideas and images that seem to want to be in the light. Though I forgot this past weekend when we spent the day perusing the merchandise of myriad Quartszite vendors, I will not give up. I will keep trying to remember to take and ask others to take more photos. My days won’t appear to change much. Only my self-awareness will increase. Doodling, sketching, and painting will continue. Walking Henry, cooking dinner, answering email, appointments, minding the gallery; life will go on as usual. But in this blog, I will open a window through which I will peer inside my own life in the same way as you, an outsider looking in. You are welcome. Opening a window of your own, perhaps you’ll reply. My sincere thanks to those who already have.
I had so much fun opening my gallery this past weekend. Thank you to my visitors and supporters. I'll be open during every Thursday evening Scottsdale Gallery Artwalk from 7-9 pm and every Friday and Saturday. Come by and chat. Coming up: October 18th, 7 - 9 pm, the Scottsdale Gallery Association's Free 38th Anniversary Artwalk with street food, live music, and artist's demonstrations. Come and enjoy great art, good company, and fun.