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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?????????

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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.

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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.

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