Archive for January, 2008

AE and Automatism


1:45 AM 9/15/2007

AE and Automatism

I have always wanted to work within the classic American Abstract Expressionist School of painting since I can remember. When I first started to study art, I was immediately attracted to painters working this way. I fumbled around with other approaches, but when I finally did hit my stride in AE, I was elated. This was 1963 or there abouts.

Working within this tradition is difficult because it is easy to fall under the spell of one artist or another. My first giant as an influence was Hans Hofmann. Then came Philip Guston. I tried to merge these two and come out somewhere along my own road. I kinda succeeded toward the late 1960’s, then I got trapped into believing what I read at the time. This kind of painting was dead. Of course the POP folk were now established and the minimalists were also underway. What did I do? I went another course and worked with the figure in an abstracted realist way in drawing, brush paintings and sprayed paintings. This lasted from 1969 to 1973. I tired of this approach and went back to AE. I have never really strayed since. Oh, I worked on a program of abstracted seascapes from 1981 to 1987. In late 1987 I finally came back to AE and have been here one way or the other since. Oh, again, I strayed into geometric abstraction from 2004 to September 2006. Then I came back again to AE and automatism with a focus on non-gesture [as an intellectual insert], paint pouring, paint manipulation with knives and scrapers of various sizes, monoprints from polyethylene plates of various sizes, paint transfer using waxed papers and similar impregnated papers as transfer platforms.

All of my AE work has involved strong use of Automatism. Some of my first solution ideas and moves involved intellectual structures; painting moves and ideas out of my past and their deliberate use in a paining or a conscious choice to use a structure borrowed from another artist or my own past. Some of my first solution ideas arise from pure improvisation. Improvisation in its pure form is the most exciting process for me when it works, and the most horrifying when it fails. At the moment I am enjoying a new found trust in my ability to carry out first solution ideas; locate the love areas and destroy them –paint them out for the good of the project’s forward progress. Over the years trying to save the love areas (those ares in a painting you just love because they are juicy or something) –trying to save them, for me, breeds anxiety and ultimate failure whentry to solve the rest of the painting around the love area [francis bacon audio interview on the subject of destroying paintings]. Francis Bacon speaks to this destruction eloquently in a BBC interview with ?????. So, saving the love area means the painting will fail. I have experienced this at the rate of 100% failure. Now, I get rid of the love area immediately and move on. How exhilarating. I think the new paintings on paper, wood and canvas are much more exciting because I no longer try to save the love areas.

In the end, I still want to continue the AE movement in painting. I don’t buy into the current thinking that this approach to painting is dead. It comes in and out of fashion commercially. But there are many, many painters who continue to work in this way. I find the AE approach still alive and full of unexplored territory. I continue to take this road because the road still offers unseen vistas as I travel it.

funny thing, there is some renewed interest in writing on abstraction. ARTnews April 2007 issue.

Before closing, my brand of abstraction is non-objective abstraction. There is no physical references in my painting. Otherwise, abstract painting can deal with any subject the artist wants to engage from realism to non-objectivity. All abstract painting in any of its forms is subjective and reflects the personality of its maker.



I remember in graduate school how horrified fellow students and some faculty were about my interest in paint and paint application processes considered as legitimate subject matter for painting. Why not? Paintings are paint. Even at their most realistic in imaging, they are still paint on a flat surface. So to me, in 1964, paint and paint application was a legitimate subject matter for making paintings; exploring the painting process as subject was legitimate. It is even more focused and part of my painting experience today – 44 years later. Egad, how time flies???!!!!

to be continued

Read Full Post »

base aesthetic/philosophy


1:30 AM 10/8/2007

The way I work October 2007; updated January 2008.

Base aesthetic/philosophy: Classic American Abstract Expressionism.

Present focus: Automatism practice from as pure an interpretation as possible.

Medium: acrylic polymer

Support/s: Cotton duck canvas, paper, various woods, linen, plastics

size: canvas [4″ x 4″ to 72″ long side]; paper [4×4 to 17×34]; wood [cut from 1×6, 2×6 and up; various plywoods; found woods]

Tools: Palette knives, drywall scrapers and knives, polyethylene plastic sheets as print plates and edges as scrapers/squeegees, cardboard edges as squeegees, wax paper as transfer (print) sheet, brushes; computer graphic/painting software

Statement: Painting results are what they are when derived from automatism and improvisation. They reflect my mood and place at the time I painted each one. The result image can change from one painting to the next throughout a studio session or the result can be a set of variations on the same theme. In the end, to me, the result is the result of many years of painting practice which is closely related to all phases and nuances of classic American Abstract Expressionism. At the onset of my art practice in 1959, I was naturally drawn to AE imaging. I practice this imaging today in 2008.

Read Full Post »


12:49 PM 10/16/2007

negatives: my take on some of the art now being shown in galleries everywhere?????

fashion [not fashion as fashion once in awhile breeds some very serious new art]
shock for shock
anti social
isms [fem, fag, etc]
just to be different
no message
narrative [for me this is a no no; I don’t respond well to narrative visual art]
telling hermetic stories — embarrassing to those who are not part of the joke
mannered historical ref art
bad art that shows a struggle is OK
glorified amateur conceptual and technical = embarrassment
political art = religious art = propaganda = scary = horrifying = politics = loss of freedom
film/video = narrative art for the most part
non-narrative video and film is ok; should add to this― music
music = abstract = pure = probs to achieve in visual art = worth while involvement

2:34 AM 10/18/2007

The clever, glitchy, shocky, “I love me”, psychedelic druggy art only scratches surfaces. On the whole the work is or lies only on a surface; not deep in concept and often technically shallow. In many ways you have to be a clever, glitchy, shocky, “I love me”, psychedelic druggy person to get it! Yes?

2:47 AM 10/18/2007

no stories. no drama. just paintin my music and lettin it all hang out naturally. lettin ma muse run free. lettin one moment in painting lead to another moment in painting and allowing it to unfold according to its own need and requirement. me, I am just a medium too. paint and me are the same stuff. havin fun. not tryin to impress anybody, just doin ma thing. enjoying my time. working alone in da studio. I am my own most enchanted listener. self arguments define painting sometimes. why not?

Read Full Post »

Duchamp is a fraud


12:39 PM 10/18/2007

Duchamp is a fraud

Art. We gotta have boundaries. Art isn’t art because mr. x says the elements he/she puts together is art. In order for elements to become art they must meet some commonly agreed to definitions and defined criteria of what makes, painting say, a painting and not just a wiping of a brush. Hmmmmmmmm???? My argument just died!

Uh oooooh????? Art does come out of redefining elements. This is how the new is born. So education is required for some of us to understand the hermetics of the new. Those of us who are engaged in the old which once was new and are trying to create a new out of this old need to be educated about the new elements and their combinations to make what could be defined as the true new now going on.

So by familiarizing one self with the elements of this new, we begin to understand what the new artist is establishing in this new art.

In the end, the more education one can garner, the better informed one is (this is a truth for all levels of life and life’s little daily encounters). It all boils down to I like or I don’t like and we either move on or get fascinated to the level of deep engagement. That’s life!

The good new (good = personal value judgment and is very much an arguable element) requires the new artist to have a vision and the art thus forms a path revealing the struggle to achieve the vision. I say struggle because struggle reveals a commitment (personal value judgment here). Again we (I) can agree with the vision, misunderstand the vision, hate the vision, like the vision, be indifferent to the vision, yada yada the vision.

Is it all about vision? Is it about seeing? Is it about revealing a position that is personal? Yada yada?

Then there is the moral issues and honesty. For me, whatever form the new requires and an artist commits to this form and the new, there must be honesty involvement. Otherwise there exists something in this activity that becomes false and suspect. We as people feel dishonesty and/or honesty from deep within our gut. We know it to be honest or dishonest at the basic non-verbalness of our being. This is a truth in art.

Read Full Post »

the synapse

D:\artstatements\the synapse.txt

1:29 PM 10/19/2007

the synapse

When the synapses are working and there is a direct path from mind thru hand to the painting, the painting usually turns out ok; ok, I mean I will accept the solution that appears before me. this doesn’t mean that there won’t be additional “first choice solutions” to go through to allow the painting to continue its path to an end; not a finis, but an end when the “first solution choices” stop forming when focusing on a specific painting.

I often feel, after a short or long break from painting, that maybe the magic has left me. I won’t have any ideas form that will help to make a painting. As usual, 100% of the time I am wrong on this. After a few minutes in the studio after the break, my mink kicks-in with new “first choice solutions” either for new starts or for work on something that is lying about the studio. After these few minutes, I am off and painting again; having fund too.

1:36 PM 10/19/2007 EDT

about 30 minutes ago I had to tear myself away from painting to take lunch. If I don’t eat I get terrible head aches. Earlier today, before I went into the studio, I had high anxiety over the issue that maybe it will be a bad day or an non creative day in the studio. What self doubt! This must plague most artists of all artistic persuasions. Is my muse permanently out of the building? NOT!

Now that I am done with lunch and writing this note, I want to get back to work. I have some things that need adjustment. The “first solution ideas” are operating even now. They may be subliminal, but they are there. Ain’t life great?????????

Read Full Post »

always the voyeur


2:45 AM 11/25/2007

always the voyeur

This for me is the job of the artist regardless of chosen medium. Being a voyeur. Observer. Through our structures the artist takes [we] note of what is happening in his/her [our] time. Some of this noting is criticism that at times is both positive and negative, private and hermetic and public and easily accessible by everyone.

The observing and recording comes in many forms and addresses all the input senses we possess; visual, sound, emotion –the static and the dynamic and all combinations possible. The list of observer connections grows every day.

I continue to make my observations using my choice of medium; paint on canvas, paper, and wood and combinations of the three. My observation pointer addresses the emotional sense structures taking in sound relationships to color and shape; thus probing the emotional side of our existence. This for some is a very private arena of spiritual-like meditation reflecting upon one’s self and all the relationships that make up our life. each individual interprets each painting privately and in as many definitions as there are observers. When not painting, I include my self as a member of this private audience.

Read Full Post »

deja vu


1:52 AM 12/7/2007

deja vu

When painting and my process evolves into something that looks familiar to me, I will move to erase the familiarity and restructure the painting process to reflect a process that becomes me. Creating paintings through a process that becomes me is my ideal. Success at times is debatable. Usually this familiarity exists as an image created by another artist who is usually very famous. This familiarity is quite derivative of this painter’s signature work. At least this is what I begin to see and feel as I paint. This derivative imaging annoys me no end. I sometimes attribute creating a familiarity painting to a lazy or tired mind. I loose my focus. I wander from my center. My muse has left the building.

Read Full Post »

formula art


2:20 AM 12/19/2007

formula art

I have been studying the paintings of Edward Lentsch of Minneapolis. He presents an image that seems fairly easy to make in large numbers. He also seems to work images out of a formula. I often ask the same question of artists and their work, especially after looking at an artists work over a period of years and the image seems close all the way through; how can an artist keep making the same image over and over and over and not turn the image into a mannered mess? How does an artist like Lentsch keep the image fresh over a long period of time? Small mind? Formula? Whenever i start to repeat myself I become bored with what is happening and the image and the painting dies. Maybe I have a short coming in that I can’t sustain a similar image over a period of time. But then again, maybe I do and don’t know it???? My repertoire seems to be made up of 4 or 5 reoccurring image themes that come and go with time. Since you can’t step into the same river twice, when an image structure reappears, it is a little different than before. Over time it has picked up some new add ons, revisions, and other stuff. My life (as is everyone’s) is like that river; we can’t step into the same experience twice. We are not the same from one minute to the next or from one year to the next. Easier to understand a change or series of changes that take place within us over a time frame of one year than it is over a time frame of one minute. Here we are dealing with time and its relentless grip on us and everything around us; or at least how our mind perceives/processes the data around us. In this sense the present doesn’t exist. Only the past and the future, the present becomes the past immediately. what is the accepted time length for the present. The future is always coming at us at the same speed, then suddenly it becomes the past too. Yikes! I can’t get my mind around this dialog tonight. Later. dpn

2:39 AM 12/19/2007


A painting created now, becomes a member of the past and our memory once it is made. Or does it? I make the painting now. Before I made it it was part of my (our) future. I made it. When/what was it’s present. Now after I made it it becomes part of my past. But when I come into the studio tomorrow (future) and open the studio door (now) (the present), turn on the lights, there is the painting existing in my present (again) becoming part of my past as I stand there looking at it. The event can never be fixed so we (I) can study int. As I study a painting (this newly created entity) I am awarre that it is constantly being viewed as a past event. This is the worse thing about the nature of time. It can’t be stopped so we can really analyze an event. An event never exists in a present but only in a future (as we wait for the event to start) and then it immediately exists in our past as memory that is constantly fading. I now ask, where is the clarity? Where is the reality? When I touch a painting, does the touch become an immediate member of my past. How long is the present?

Read Full Post »



2:48 AM 12/31/2007


Working the way I do, conceptual and technical structure derived from purist automatism (as an ideal), repeatability is relative to the moment. Over time some image structures show up again and again. I believe they derive from a central part of my nature; exist as finger prints exist. These image structures, once fleshed-out, become a signature.

My working (making) structure doesn’t allow a repeatable element to exist as a precondition for starting point. This would violate the integrity of the experiment as it exists at this time. If a repeatable element shows up during the making process as part of a first solution idea, then so be it. It then becomes part of a painting and is subject to removal if the next first solution idea so deems. Don’t ya love the process? You can never step into the same river twice. Love it????!!!!!

Over the years, if or when I was trying to find an image that connected to a commercial market -clients, galleries, museums, etc.- repeatability is what I thought was important. I needed to make a series of paintings that related in all ways to each other; not to make things that are resoundingly different from each other; images that are consistent, similar, understandable (somehow through repeatability). Consistently related images creates a strength (what, how???). When i tried to do this, the images would get progressively mannered as time did its deed on the image and my interest in continuing the image. So far the Voyage series of 18 paintings done in the late 1960’s was the only set of consistently related paintings I ever produced that were exciting to make over the 1-2 years they were made.

In the end, even if a painting of a certain type of image was selling well, I had to give it up because eventually I simply got sick of making them. The abstract seascape paintings made from 1981-1987 was a project that ran overtime for me. In the end I made these damn things because they were selling. Eventually i had to end it and move on. In 1987 I returned to abstract painting and automatism.

Read Full Post »


2:33 AM 1/2/2008

what to make of today????

After looking around the web for art by new artists (to me) (most are much younger than me) and most of these younger artists have a much different take on what art is/was/to be than I do. I really don’t know what this means, this first/last statement. So the new art of today’s youngin’s is different on all points than the art of what I do? Isn’t this always the case? The young are supposed to depose their elders. We called them our “parents” when I was in art school in the 1960’s. There was a presence of mind then, to succeed you had to “kill” your artistic parents and move into your own artistic world. What the hell this meant then as related to the now? I think the meaning is the same now as it was then.

It’s not that I don’t understand what many of today’s young artists are doing –well, yes, I don’t understand sometimes– it becomes a matter of who cares! There are so many more artists working in this world today than, say, in 1945 after WWII. Since 1945 the history of modern/contemporary art has advanced so fast and vast that every possible art rock has been turned over, examined, recorded, dissected, re-recorded, invented, reinvented, ad infinitum. The sheer numbers of art practitioners now allow for simultaneities of discovery, rediscovery, and simply art making to take place between more than one artists perusing the same thing at various places on this planet at the same time. Get it? All of the art isms since 1945 have been placed in the MORTAR & PESTLE of time, digested, reformed, neo’d and re-neo’d. Ain’t life grand? Oh yes, every aspect of our life as humans on this planet is continuously scanned for possible use in making art. So there are also continuous additions to this mix of what makes up our art. And the beat goes on!

In a way, all of this meshing and inter meshing and redefining of art isms goes back to the Armory Show in NYC. [1913 Armory Show: First International Exhibition of Modern Art in America (New York, 1913)] and to Marcel Duchamp, who in many ways, is the great grandfather of anybody calling the focus of one’s making practice = art. Whatever you want the focus to be –an object found in nature, colors mushed on a piece of paper, words describing an event, the thought of an event, ad infinitum– this entity, whatever its form, is art. So what is the big deal? As we enter 2008 all of these isms and the relentless number of ism variations as well as all the anti-isms that are out there, must exist along side, on top and around each other. This is the pluralism of today. This is the globalism of the art world. Meaning. What is meaning and how does it get defined now? Definitions are now left up the individual artist or to whomever wishes to add a definition to the mess, uuuuuhhhh, mix.

In line with the above diatribe, old pigeon-hole ism definitions are now old hat. What I do today that looks and feels like 1950’s AE, isn’t really AE in that time-sense. It can’t be. Why, because this is 2008. Why, because you can’t step into the same river twice. What I do today in my painting conceptually uses some of the original AE devices and connections, but it also uses large doses of intellectual AE construction and chance. What? Intellectual construction of my paintings using AE devices derived from my past work, the work of other artists (old and new), and an intellectual renewal of a making process I call “Purist Automatism” which uses very large doses of chance as a process starter and main mover for change in a specific painting over a period of time. This time frame starts but never ends, really. I stop work on a painting because there no longer are First Solution ideas forming. I address the same painting over time as if it were a brand new event. What is already there is now communicating with my muse and my muse, intuition, intellect, automatism plus other mysterious mental processes are figuring out what to do next on this thing. When all the grinding is over, the first solution idea pops up and is recognized by an element in my conscious mind,; triggers my conscious mind to start opening the paint cans, gather up the application tools, apply the paint or any other elements that are required to satisfy the immediate needs conjured up as the first solution idea. The first solution idea sets into motion the making event. Each session always starts fresh. Even though there are marks on the canvas, the making event for this canvas is constantly starting as if new. Of course what is seen and felt on the canvas during the incubation period becomes part of the stuff my mind uses to create the next fist solution idea/move. And the process repeats it self over and over and over.

I usually write this stuff very early in the am hours when I am about to go to bed. I am so tired that my mind is free to form ideas without any real checks regarding if the thought flow makes sense. Who cares. Just write it down. When my forehead starts to bounce off the computer monitor, the writing gets good (at the time). Tomorrow when I read what was written several hours earlier, it may or may not mean anything to me. So what? It will restart itself later.

dpn3:24 AM 1/2/2008


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »