Archive for the ‘Just Stuff’ Category

paint a show

1:38 AM 12/15/2009 (date written)

paint a show

just had a thought about how i paint on a daily basis; from day to day; with no prospect/s for showing anything anywhere in the near or far future. Partial Ans: I paint ideas rather than sets of themes. by this I mean, I work on ideas as they form and I have the interest to set this idea/form in some way as a permanent marker for the idea; make a painting, or a photograph, or a sculpture, or a ?????. As the days go by and one idea after another pop up or are drafted, i make decisions as to which idea gets recorded and with ideas are left behind to be or not to be for something in the future.

When a prospect comes up for showing my work at a gallery or museum, i will then paint; work up a show covering several ideas either related directly as a set or related indirectly as derived from related ideas. Confusing. Yes. No. This way I don’t windup with a store room full of physical stuff that no body wants, including me. When I am contracted with a gallery as an ongoing adventure, I will usually paint a number of related pieces for showing at this specific gallery. For me this can become a pain in the ass because it interferes with my real interest in just working up ideas that are every changing and thus exciting to me. This motivates me to paint, photograph,sculpt, print, etc. The gallery contract thing becomes just another job, in a way, where i spend hours repeating myself. in the end the work begins to suffer because it is boring to me, boring to make, and comes out communicating that it is boring to look at by others too.

What do I do? Nothing. Keep on trucking and do what I have to do to get up tomorrow and make something productive and exciting to me in the studio. I really don’t care if it is exciting to anybody else. Arrogant? Yes? Necessary for me in order to make the art on a continuing basis.

I am not represented by a gallery at this time. I like this because It makes me free. And being free is most important to me as an artist. For a gallery-artist-David connection to work well, the gallery needs to take what i do. Take what i do –promote and sell it. Leave me to my ways to make art. I then will leave you (the gallery) to do your thing. If we both do our thing very well we both prosper. Any break in the link and the adventure fails. This has been my gallery history. Most gallery-David-connects wind up as failures. This is so. This is life. Can we move on?

1:55 AM 12/15/2009
somewhere in what i wrote above is a kernel of truth. i will need to analyze the above to see if i can locate this kernel. what will id do when i find it? nothing! move on to tomorrow and ask some more questions through paint, wax, plaster, pencil, computer, prints, listening.

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my art is:

11:01 PM 10/13/2009 (date written)

my art is:

non commercial

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12:04 PM 8/30/2009 (date written)

I haven’t posted to my blog for quite some time. What follows is a discussion that unfolded in my mind about post modern painting as we approach 2010. For me this will be, why I don’t know, an interesting year. The following words are generalizations formulated to expose a concept and feeling, and not get into arguments of detail.

As I wrote this, I simultaneously viewed work by artists at the Gallery Nelson – Freeman/Paris, France; see footnote at end of this.

Seems to me, much of current imagery in post modern painting requires literature in some form to make a connection to it; what the painting is about requires an explanation. Images are more, rather than less, esoteric and quite personal (internal to the artist) rather than universal as post moderns seem to desire. Yes! Imagery links to print and computer advertising; film; cartoons (print, film, digital (still and video); fashion (you name the connection). Some current post modern post post modern (whatever its name) is presented as fragments of something else; unclear references; to me final point gets lost. There seems to be some disconnect between what the artist understands and what he/she presents as a final product (art?). In this sense, an audience feels duped and embarrassed if he/she doesn’t get it. Its a Barnum special at most galleries these days!!!

Maybe a slice of daily life, real or imagined, is one and the same thing? Daily life = kaleidoscope? Yes? Daily life = banal? yes? When an artist presents banality as art, it is boring because daily life is boring. If our minds recorded up front and kept daily life experiences in a conscious center, we would not be able to function due to the confusion of massive input to our brains. To survive we must be selective of our focus every second. Some experience is rejected. Some accepted. As we focus during the day, we survive and get by.

Everyday objects, stuff (like shipping palettes —
http://www.galerienelsonfreeman.com/slide_show.php?ar=48&c=5&in_show=1) are physically taken out of context and placed into a gallery and called art = art according to Duchamp and millions of artists practicing today. There must be some element of truth to this as audience acceptance of this also legitimizes it. NO? Yes?

Critical evaluation of this art stuff as far as I can tell, now exists as an individual and personal “I like it” or “I don’t like it”. The criticism then forms along these lines wherein the critic plugs in samples to prop up the focus of the crit. There is no gray area, to me. This is a very conservative position; my way or the highway. Once the need to explain what the stuff being exhibited is and is about, the art part of the experience is over!

I reluctantly accept this. I have no answers or diagrams to offer as replacement. These are postmodern times! For me, like everyone else, I bring my own baggage to the art gallery. I bring along my learning in art history and art making. I bring along my prejudices born out of this learning. I bring to this experience my ignorance of art history and art making with special focus (sometimes) of the artist’s intentions presented by the art stuff exhibited. Hard to elaborate without using specific examples. There are way too many examples, from my view, to bring to this minimal conversation that would clarify. Most likely the conversation and comparisons would get lost in the smoke. Ah hah! I too get stuck. The absence of singular movements today make for rather confusing criticism, evaluation, and judgment. Pluralism reduces criticism to “I like it” or “I don’t like it”.

[ There needs to be a revision of art criticism. It needs to re-establish formal criteria so that ]

[Everything today has its monetary equivalent; art, life, bullets, war… Where’s the beef?]

As I look at painting 2009 by new, refreshing, young artists, I see a big influence of realism on what is being done; the figure, landscape, portraits, etc. Photography seems to be a big influence as well; especially digital photography along lines of digital collage and other forms of electronic image manipulation. [Maybe it is time for] This interest in using realism in some form in painting signals to me that artists feel a need to get back into the world of seeing and to make a record of this seeing regardless of how used; realism to nonobjective abstractions. Any time an artist uses his/her eyes and creates a translation of this seeing to an art work, again regardless of style position, there is a power transfer to the art. This is a very zen thing! This power transfer is intuitively felt by another being if it is truly there! We feel the energy even if we can’t explain what the feel may be. Nice!

Much of the new painting for me involves searching, discovery, recording. Searching, discovery, recording makes for art that can, when successful, picked up by audience radar. It may not always be clear but it certainly can be felt. We all possess a common trait; curiosity. When painting pics at this curiosity, an enriched experience unfolds.

Success you say. Success is evaluated by measuring how well the artist connects and projects the content. Oh! I have digressed! Success is measured by the duality of “I like” or “I don’t Like”. There are no standards for measurement of post modern art. It is whatever you want it to be. [Duchamp??>>!!] So! Today there is no criticism other than that expressed through personal pleasure principles. 100 different people. 100 different pleasure principles. 100 different points of reference for art criticism. Are we back to modernism here? Modernism by broad definition [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernism] “…was, and remains, its rejection of tradition. Modernism’s stress on freedom of expression, experimentation, radicalism, and positivism disregards conventional expectations. In many art forms this often meant startling and alienating audiences with bizarre and unpredictable effects: the strange and disturbing combinations of motifs in Surrealism, or the use of extreme dissonance and atonality in modernist music. In literature this often involved the rejection of intelligible plots or characterization in novels, or the creation of poetry that defied clear interpretation.; self centered expression of self existence in this vast reality we play in.”. I am generalizing here, but I think you get my point. Art is still all about the individual in its making and experiencing. As a fact: We have no other point of reference to our reality other than from ourselves. We cannot under any circumstances see or feel the world from within someone else. The work seen and felt is done some from our own brain computer translations of the data inputs. Something to be said that modernism’s definitions are truisms. So post modern, post post modernism, modernism, is pretty much the same thing. The focus changes; the content changes; the images change; but the center of this activity is still us. We change too. Ain’t life grand?

While writing this I was looking at work of the artists represented at this gallery in Paris, France. For me European artists and galleries present a better balance of what is being done. European galleries seem to be still interested in art; like the old days of the 50s, 60s, 70s ending in the 80s in the USA. The USA gallery scene turned away from art as the 90s unfolded. IN the USA we lost our way in almost everything human; art, religion, politics (now in the 00s politics is a collection and expression of hate) and everything moved to focus on money as the pinnacle of life. Life = money = insanity. We (people) now kill each other for the hell of it. As populations explode around the world it is becoming more and more a reality for me, “No, We Can’t get along”..!!??

The line of succession that is the make up of this piece of writing.
1. http://www.crggallery.com/artists/
2. http://www.crggallery.com/artists/pia-fries/
3. http://www.galerienelsonfreeman.com/; the other galleries listed for this artist are also interesting.

myself. how postmodern can i really get? postmodernism isn’t in my blood. i like what i see in some postmodern art. however, my roots are planted in modernism. after all, i am now approaching my 70th year and still haven’t been able to find my way in modernism. my road is still to be taken.

thanks for attention. much appreciated.

12:58 PM 8/30/2009

Just began looking at artists at http://www.gfilomenasoares.com//pt/artists. I am getting most interested in work being shone in Europe!

Here go! Round and round and round! “I like” and “I don’t like” at work!

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Slow Painting

10:02 AM 8/6/2009 (date written)
Note: If my memory serves me correctly, this piece must have started out as an imaginary Q&A between myself and myself. But, here, the questions (Q:) were never written in….???? Interesting? I will leave it at that. Now the reader has to form the question after reading the answer… like Jeopardy.
5:42 PM 8/20/2010

Slow painting

A: My paintings require a slow entry into them. They are not taken in within a few seconds. It could take an hour, several hours, over several days, over several weeks. It takes some time to get comfortable with my work. My work doesn’t sit well, or fit well, into a world of the sound bite.

A: Popular culture is just that: popular. The closer an art form comes to how the “average” person relates to it, the more popular it is. Most people are not educated in the more sophisticated underpinnings of what goes into the making or the history of an art form. The less complicated the art form, the more everyday in its relations and communications, the wider its audience; the wider its support; the wider its sales possibility.

A: My painting is not easy. It not easy to make. It is not easy to read. It is not easy to sell. From a commercial view point it is not a commodity in the popular sense. From a sales position it takes time to sell the work. We exist in a commercial era where time = money. Extrapolate: short time = short money or long time = long money. Uh! No. This isn’t how it works. Gallery success, as I understand it today 2009 (and hopefully it is changing back to where quality over commodity rules) if a painting doesn’t nearly sell itself from a wall, then the art is not successful. In this vein, the artist is dropped from the roster. If the artist doesn’t sell, then the gallery doesn’t support. Pretty direct in my case these past 10 years. An example: In the 80’s my work would sell regularly from a gallery. Also galleries supported an artist more fully than today. When the 90’s started, the art market began to show less interest in art and more in kitsch because kitsch seemed to be where the big bucks were. And big bucks ruled. My sales for the 90’s was dismal. By 2000, my sales were almost 0. No gallery wanted to handle my work. There were no $$$$ (dollar signs) connected to what I was doing. No galleries were interested in me if there was no possible future or money for them in it. And, there was no real interest in investing time via advertising (group and solo shows, print, etc) offered by a commercial gallery. Popular culture had won this battle.+

A: No. I am not bitter. I understood this problem of self isolation from the very beginning; 1960 or so. ABEX was on the wane then, but I hadn’t entered the art scene yet; and was naive in many ways to painting and the art market (what was an art market to me as an Iowa bumpkin in 1960?). so I set out making the art I wanted to make. Still am doing this today.

A: Today, 2009, I am hoping that art will be placed back into the art market equation. I would also like to see art education put back into our schools. There has been a steady removal of art in schools over the past 30 years. Bad times = take art out of the schools; funding issues (they say). And who runs the schools? This is another story. Back to my point. Increased art education for the public plus the return of art to galleries should improve my situation. I am nearing 70 so I don’t think this will realistically happen in my life time. I will be grateful to be represented somewhere by a gallery who can tell the difference and is willing to support art and money equally and not money over art. An equality between art and moneyed will be a more successful strategy for selling art in the future (I believe). A point: When looking at old master paintings, the junk still is junk and has no value. The good stuff still is the good stuff and still demands the highest prices and widest viewing. This is a truth then and should be a truth for the future.

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10:21 AM 7/10/2009 (date written)

My life with abstract expressionism

What does this sentence really mean? It means this! From my start in 1960, when I first took making art as a serious part of my life, I was very impressed with the work of many of the more famous abstract expressionist painters at that time. The most influential painters, for me, were: W. deKooning, H. Hofmann, Philip Guston, R. Motherwell, James Brooks, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Nicholas de Still, Afro and Tapies. Lesser painters that interested me at that time: Miro, Matisse, Giocometti, Francis Bacon — some others that I can’t remember at this time. I didn’t respond very well to the work of Picasso or Jackson Pollack. I don’t have a very good reason why I didn’t respond to them, I just didn’t. Remember! At that time I was very new to the world of art and painting and was very ignorant to what was going on at the time. Before I forget it, I did not respond to the new painting thinking at the time reflected in the works of Rauschenberg, Warhol, any of the geo painters (old or new).

I responded to realist painters old and new because I respected the technical issues required to paint realistically; especially the patience required to do it. I was too impatient to struggle through the learning how to paint 3-d forms. Eventually I settled down and learned all of this; especially by the end of my graduate school daze in 1967; working full time with this aspect of painting from 1969-1973. At the end of 1973 I realized that I wasn’t a good story teller and stopped painting realism. And I never found a way to use realism (the human figure mainly) in a non-narrative or literary way. I couldn’t wrap my brain around not connecting realism to stories. Go figure?

Back to my roots in Ab Ex. Retrospection and reflecting on what and how I felt about painting 1960, and to this day 2009, I never really operated with Ab Ex from a true emotional center. I used Ab Ex from a perceptual position much like the Appropriationist artists of the 1980’s used the visual ideas of other artists in their work. As I remember talking to myself in the years 1960-64 (undergrad years at Iowa) and 1964-1967 (graduate years at Iowa) — I used visual snips from Motherwell, from Guston (main man during graduate years), from deKooning, etc. I liked certain elements of all these painters and used from them what I needed to build my paintings. I still do this today 2009.

IN this light, my paintings are intellectual constructions of visual ideas made up of [from] a history of seeing paintings by other artists (all historical years and models) coupled to my own history of painting stuff (some mine and most borrowed [appropriated]). In this sense, my paintings are not abstract expressionist works at all. Somewhere in all this structuring, my personality enters; my use of design, color, line, shape, size, texture is all me; all my personality; all my unique signature in the same way as my handwriting is all me even though I use the same methods to formulate the letters when I write (we have to leave out the computer or typewriter here, although the sentence structure and the way I use the word and sentence structures is also the real me).

From about 1986 onward, I began to use the computer to aid me in my painting by creating works unique to the computer and works that combined my painting structure with the digital structure. Today I use the computer as an aid to 1) start paintings, 2) solve painting problems by using a digital picture of a painting in process, make changes on the digital image before making actual changes to the painting itself; this is especially useful when working on large paintings – it removes the time required to make a change – do it digitally first (often several times to find a likeable solution), then making the change. I have used the computer to create an image, then enlarged this image and painted it. Throughout this phase of computer related painting (1995-2006) the question of “why copy? Why enlarge through paint itself? Why do it again?” was always in my mind. I wanted to simply print these images on canvas and let it go at that but never had the funding required to do this. So large format prints on canvas were never made. It would have been fun to enlarge the digital images, print to canvas, then either leave alone or work back into these images; to see where this could have gone. Oh well! Never happened; probably never will. No longer interested.

In final analysis (at this time – the beat goes on) I am not a true Abstract Expressionist. I am an appropriationist. I appropriate snips from other painters and recombine them with my own snips and make a painting or set of paintings. My painting sets rarely repeat themselves totally. In my most inner sanctum I never want to repeat myself. Robert Rauschenberg speaks to this thinking and expresses my sentiments on the topic/subject of repeating oneself or copying what another painter does; I paraphrase: “If it has been done already by someone else, I don’t want to do it because the problems or issue specific to the image/painting has been solved. If i solved a problem in a painting or set of paintings, the thrill is gone when repeating the solution for the sake of making a painting.”

How this works: I have an idea. This idea is usually rather foggy in its mental configuration. I start a painting by using an element that pops into my conscious mind; the first solution idea. I make this move. I study the painting. I have another “first solution idea” and make the corresponding move. I have another “first solution idea” and make this move. This continues indefinitely as, for me, a painting is never completed. I just stop getting the first solution ideas and resulting moves. All of this painting experience is very much like what happens to Bill Murray in Ground Hog day. The life of a painting is a continual set of building upon a new awakening.

2:50 AM 7/13/2009: My painting life, thus, is a journey where through my painting I am forever arriving at something. I spend my time in the studio traveling and searching for clues, ideas, methods, materials. The vehicle for this travel is my painting.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOH! The medium is very much an actor in this formula. The medium is the message? Maybe???!!!! The medium carries the message? What is the difference? Or. The medium is just the medium and I enjoy using it because of my interest in how it feels or doesn’t feel. The medium is the subject? Yes? NO? So it becomes a play where the medium, the snip, the color, the line, the shape, the texture, the size, are all actors responsible for revealing the plot of the piece. This plot can be nothing more, or nothing less than a display of these actors themselves.

Now we get away from painting and move into the realm of literature, philosophy, religion. None of this is what my paining is about. From this position – call it interpretation, “what it means”, etc – I have tried over the years to explain what my painting means, or is. Specifics change over time. At times I question this myself. As I write this 11:09 AM 7/10/2009 my best effort states this: my paintings are abstractions, mostly non-objective [no relationship to the visual world as we know it] and express a meaning (if there is one) through color, shape, size, yada ; creating, for some individuals, an emotional response [which is acceptable to me] and in some individuals a verbal response [most of the time a verbal response means HUH?] and is not acceptable to me 100% of the time unless the verbal response reflects the individual’s personal connection. My paintings are best understood as mirrors; reflection the individual’s zeit geist. Also, I would be very happy if my paintings were accepted and experienced as if they were visual music.

Enuff said at this time in a flash moment of clarity that just went away 11:15 AM 7/10/2009.


2:37 AM 7/13/2009: When an artist works primarily with abstracted forms (from nature or not), or non-objective (no objects intended; no photography), he/she cannot be specific trying to attach a meaning to these paintings. My definition for abstraction is that it is a process of leaving out details. Expounding further, in a non-objective sense, all physical, photographic-like detail has been removed from a painting. All that remains on the 2-d surface is paint, color, shapes, lines, and texture. In a psychological sense, an abstract painting morphs into a Rorschach identity. Thus, the artist/maker may have inserted his/her meaning but by the nature of the non-objective identity of the painting, a viewer will never really know what the painter’s intentions are/were. So, the perceiver must then apply his/her own meaning factors to or from the painting; let the painting speak to them from an autobiographical position. This is where my “mirror” concept comes from. Going to an extreme with the mirror analogy, all of us perceive 100% of our inner and outer universe entirely alone; up close and personal to ourselves; responsible to ourselves only in the end [what end?]. We cannot get into another’s skin at all; period!

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At the outset if [I, we, you] regard a work of art as fusion of form and content then an artist [painter] creates an action in the painting covering form transforming subject matter into content. Also at this outset let us agree as [me] artist/painter and you [reader/audience] that this simple definition is arguable. I use it only as a reference point. I have been writing this definition in way too many writings and in way too many diverse directions over the past 50 years to continue it here. I simply want to strip away the bs and set down a base definition of what my paiting is to me so it means something to you; so you can engage in my painting instead of running away from it.

In very basic terms, my painting is about the making end of this activity and comes in two parts:

1) Internal information based on what can be seen in the work itself and can be divided into three categories: subject matter, medium, and form.

* Subject matter refers to those recognizable people, places, or events in the work for realism; shapes, colors, texture, etc.; for nonobjecive works — the paining itself.

* Medium refers to the material the work is made from. Medium, for me is also a subject for a painting.

* Form refers to the way the artist shapes the subject with the medium. In non-objective and non-representational work, medium and form may well predominant with no identifiable subject matter.

and 2) External information includes data about the time in which the piece was made, its social and intellectual environment, other works by the same artist, and work by other artists of the same period.


Once a painting is made the following aspects of my work are out of my control:

3) Interpreting: As maker and viewer we both do this from our own life history; including knowledge and/or the lack of knowledge on the subject of painting as a fine art. Set this aside. I as the maker can help the viewer understand my activity and its results by outlining the internal information as best I can. The internal information is very up close and personal to the artist/maker. It becomes a situation of how aware of detail in this internal information the artist is and how willing he/she is about revealing it. I tend to not want to reveal much of it as a lot of how I feel or what I think the internal information is can seem embarassing to admit what it is. I tend to not want to reveal that warts exist. Quite simply I don’t want to reveal to a reader/audience/viewer that I don’t know what my painting really is. Yikes!

3a) Interpreting external informaton: External evidence consists of information located outside the work itself: The artist’s other work, biography, gender, race, age, the social, political, religious preference, place [where the work was made], and time in which the work was made. Interpreting external information, for me, is also speculation. Points of data are certainly arguable as to their definitions and what elements that should be included or excluded. Interpreting external information also can be wrapped in philosophy.
However, all this being said, I believe that we all have to agree works of art [painting/s] are about something. I and you interpret our best understanding of the evidence presented [in a painting or paintings].

4) Evaluating: This activity focuses on judging the artistic merits of a work of art according to standards either learned academically or experiencially. These standards need to be addressed, clearly defined and outlined, and argued. Evaluating becomes a very personal activity. For me, I think it best that to evaluate my painting requires an open mind; open to a wide variety of source material known to a viewer and if not known, left out of the evaluation at the time. To best understand and interpret my paintings, it is best to study what you don’t know. Accumulated knowledge of the processes included in the above will make the engagement experience with my paintings much richer. 50 individuals look at the same painings and come up with 50 individual evaluations. I like to think that the internal information the viewer brings to the experience also plays a part. Thus, in this aspect of the experience, my paintings are mirrors. From this view, I ascertain that each individual that agrees to engage in one of may paintings or group of paintings will understand something that is revealed there. The specifics of this revealing may or may not be conscious and the feelings can run a gammut of human emotions. If my painting or paintings succeed the response to them is love or hate; never indifference. Indifference means that a painting has failed in some way for the viewer.


1) —about the medium and how it can be manipulated to construct an event-like interaction with a viewer. The event usually takes form as an emotional interaction. Sometimes the logic of this manipulation is obvious; sometimes not.

2) —about the medium and how its unique quality defines it. Each medium —be it oil paint, acrylic polymer paint, polyvinyl Acetate Paint, encaustic (hot and cold processes), watercolor, gouache, ink, pencil, crayon, etc.— creates its own unique mark on the same support using the same tool. Change the support and the mark will change also [see item 4].

3) I like to think that how I approach making a painting is closely related to how a Zen painter takes the time to create a meditative state within which to set down the brush and ink mark or marks. Directly related to this approach is my use of the surrealist technique of automatism.

4) My painting is also about the uniqueness of the support selected and how the medium of choice responds to this support when the paint is applied. Each support takes the paint differently. For example, visually compare how oil paint looks and feels when applied to paper (sized or unsized— each accepts oil differently), primed and unprimed canvas, primed or unprimed woods (different wood species also accept oil paint differenlty). Now take the samples described in 2) and observe the differences in each of the interactions between the medium, the support, and the application tools. This simple process, for me, has enuff mystery, problems, and excitement to engage me in exploring the same issues over and over and over. However, it is the nature of this making process that the same problem never really presents itself from one painting to the next.

5) My painting is about color. Attach color to all that has been described so far. For me it is a tall order to make sense of how this stuff functions at the basic making level; making a mark on a support with a medium and a selected color using a selected tool. I keep hoping the next painting will clear a mystery. It doesn’t. Then on to the next painting. On and on!

6) Whew! What is next? The next painting takes this exploration to a next order. Defining the order is a topic for another discussion. Defining the order or discussing this order is the stuff of philosophy and speculation. It takes my painting deeper into the realm of the personal. Herein lies an elementary fact regarding order. We as individuals like and dislike something according to a privately designed rule or paradigm; personal preference if you will.

7) At first, when I started painting in 1960, I really liked the abstract expressionist painters of the first and second generation. I had a strong emotional-feel-good-response to what I saw. It didn’t take me very long to realize that I didn’t feel the same experiences they did when they formed this approach to painting [art making] in the 1940’s. First, I am not an urban person; born and raised in a small city in Iowa. Second, I liked what I saw mainly through magazine illustrations. There was little or no actual samples of this kind of art to see, feel, etc. where I lived. I had to imagine what surfaces were all about; how the paint was handled and applied. I saw my first in-person abstract expressonist painting in the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1965; Hans Hofmann’s yadayayay. I melted before the painting. When I tried to paint this way I got discouraged in a hurry. I discovered that I wasn’t Hans Hoffman and my attempts to use his structures and color didn’t come close to “being” in the same way. I had to adjust my painting to “be” me. I am still adjusting today in 2009! Over the years I tried-on other artists as I learned of them only to get discouraged quickly. They weren’t me either!

8) My painting 2009 is still all about what I have described so far. Over the years my programs swing between simple structures, which are somewhat minimal or sparce, and structures that are complex and busy. I am not an abstract expressionist! Although I appropriate some of their outward visualness. I focus on the medium and its unique qualities, how it holds color, brush stroke and other elements this uniqueness reveals.
I haven’t mentioned space and painting. Yes! My work incorporates space. Space is a secondary issue to medium and color.
I haven’t mentioned psychology and painting. I haven’t mentioned literature and painting. I did mention emotion and painting. I don’t consciously use psychology or literature as a structure in my painting. I am a horrible story teller so I don’t use literature or tell stories with my art. Following closely to this, I don’t place hidden or classic psychological attachments to my colors, textures, spaces, sizes, or techniques. I do, once in a while, like to use a surrealist element of surprise; something, an element, that when observed within a painting, doesn’t seem to fit and clashes, or indifferently exists in the painting. These surprise elements sometimes offer no logic to their existence in a painting. I will place a word or a number in a painting because I wanted to include it for what it is. Simple to me. No logic to others.

9) Projects 2009: Acrylic polymer paint on canvas, paper, linen, and wood; encaustic (hot wax) painting on wood, paper, linen, and cotton. Approach: Generous involvement in the Automatism process to make 2-D visual art; some use of appropriation— using solutions by other artists because, frankly, I find it easier to use their solution to solve a painting problem— saves me time and mental energy; generous use of various tools to manipulate the paint and color. Conscious restrictions: 1) do not tell stories, 2) do not use realism as this opens the door to literature in my painting.

10) My painting and a general reference to a definition of what my painting is in context of this writing— simple is good and drawn-out explanations tend to get lost on personal and hermetic philosophy on what I think painting is generally and what my painting is to me.

11) Up to this point in my life, this is what I believe to be my painting and what it is about.

David Novak
Matthews, NC
Sunday, June 14, 2009

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New Writing for my blog

Out of sight out of mind?  Or old age and a failing memory?  I see that my last entry in this blog was October 23, 2008.  I wish I could say that I have been too busy to keep this blog updated.  Not true.  I am lazy pure and simple.  I think about including something, then procrastinate, then nothing happens.  I am, after all, a professional procrastinator.

This being said, I write something on a daily basis.  I record studio notes and save them on computer as text files.  Sometimes these notes are used as reference for future studio work or as a base for creating statements on my web site.  I find something on the web and record a comment about this find.  I also save these notes as reference for creating blog entries.

I have decided it is now time to begin an update process for this blog.  I will start where I left off in October 2008.  The directory on my hard drive where I store my writing has 594 files dating back to 2002; 223 date from October 1, 2008 to now.  No!  I don’t plan to include all of them.  Some of these files are very incomplete and exist as outlines or just a word or two.  From this main set of 223 writings, I have selected 32 that, to me, seem appropriate for publishing here.  From this edited set of 32 I am preparing only 15 writings to be edited and published.  I will work forward from 10.01.08 to now; 06.14.09 will be the first piece offered titled “My Paintings”.

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8:11 AM 7/16/2008 [original draft]

automatism with a heavy filter

also see the artist as a filter

My definitions of automatism and how I use it:

Automatism as a “pure” process in art making is virtually impossible to achieve.  An artists process involves making history and life history and it is impossible to eliminate this history from a person’s process, let alone an artist’s process when making art.  All of this experience and education becomes the “stuff” that makes up how the artist is a filter.

If a painter could somehow tap into a “pure” automatism making state, there would be no style.  All of the elements that make up a particular piece would follow the laws of chance and random.  A painting would only be formed from the artistic choice of medium and support; scale; etc.  The design would have no connection to the artist per se; thus forming a design similar in structure and color as what might show up in a rock.

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diversity discussion, again!

8:52 AM 5/16/2008 [original draft]

diversity discussion, again!

my art work is like handwriting; all from the same hand, just different content.  There are distinguishing identity marks embedded.  Sometimes they aren’t readily apparent.  Even when I use a particular artist as a filter or aid, the final results come close to the originator, sometimes, but most often my handwriting will come through in the way I handle the brush or something similar.

I don’t know why the diversity issue bothers me so.  I have had this issue bouncing around in my brain for over 40 years; since graduate school daze.  When I get off this treadmill and just work, everything comes out fine.  I think this issue,for me, is an insecurity issue.  Also it is a product of my impatience.  Also it is a product of my interests in never stepping into the same river twice; i don’t like to repeat myself; making more than one image look-a-like tends to become a boring activity and I want painting to be exciting and dynamic.

12:23 PM 6/13/2008 Update:  While reading an article on the paintings of Sam Francis [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_7_37/ai_54169955/pg_3] , these words rang a bell for me; “And it was when the assembly line really started cranking that his work began to turn a bit stale, a bit predictable.”  Translating these words to fit into my scheme of making art, to me I have a long running fear of making stale and predictable art by making images that are similar; or making images in long sets;  by repeating myself.  I don’t want to repeat myself.  On special occasions I want to explore an idea in-depth,  then I will create images in series.  Example, I am working on a set of paintings on paper, wood, and cloth centering on a concept of mantle (fireplace mantle I guess — dunno, just like the idea of a mantle).

12:45 PM 6/13/2008:  Also as my mind jumps from place to place revealing only what it can reveal, so do my paintings throughout a session- jump from one image to another (sometimes).  Usually, as I work each painting influences the next one.  I see something that I just painted and it sparks energy to make something else.  I just follow the impulses and paint.  If I procrastinate the intuition, then the process stops dead in its tracks and the session is dead.  I have to start all over again.  Sometimes it never restarts for that day.  Automatism makes this so.  Automatism creates the life in my painting.  Questioning the first solution idea/move automatically stops the process.  This is what I observe and experience in the studio.  This is what makes all of this so exciting.  It can be a problem for a viewer who wants to see logical progression from one painting t another over a period of time.  Well, there is logic.  It comes in the form of Dada and Automatism.  Wrap your mind around this and you can wrap your mind around my painting.  It is that simple.

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2:40 PM 5/11/2008 [original draft]


Concept:  The process, techniques, and materials, and design, and everything else painting is the subject, content, meaning, raison d’etre defining painting and its message/s communicated, real or otherwise.  In many ways it [concept] has always been this way for painting save for the illustrators who work exclusively with word-to-painting translations whether the translation is from something an artist is interested in illustrating a literature from a personal position or the artist is illustrating a literature of others; including poetry.  Without process art cannot exist; painting cannot exist.

That being said, this is a very simplistic approach to defining all painting and my painting in particular.  I have stated, and my work illustrates this, my painting has its basic roots in classical Abstract Expressionism as defined in mid 1940 and practiced until the mid 1960’s when it was successfully challenged by minimalism, pop art and other divisions of painting developed as a reaction to AE.  In my opinion, all of this stew has co-existed quite successfully since that time.  Over the years I too have challenged this position in my work only to keep coming back to a thread that links back to the 1945-65 AE period.  It is my belief that artists must be true to their centers (however defined) and let their art be a reflection or projection of this center.

I have often of late made reference to using Automatism in a pure form.  Again I mean here that I am choosing a form of Automatism that dates back to its origins in the early 20th century.  I am also trying to use this system of art making in a pure a form as I can.  However, a person cannot separate influences of life experience from a behavior pattern.  Therefore, at best, my use of Automatism is that of a filter.  I filter my experience as a person and as an artist through an imagined Automatism filter; thinking that the way I use it is pure in its structure in all ways.  Well, this isn’t really truth because I can’t eliminate all the influences that have formed my art from the beginning and the influences that still put pressure on how I make my art and what tools and material make up my art.

Also, of late, I have made and make reference to the idea that my paintings are nothing more or nothing less that working spaces; space as a place to put and arrange the stuff of painting.  What this stuff is covers wide territory and its parts are forever in addition as well as subtraction (removal); this last concept has been referred to as a dialectical analysis process).

Since I intentionally do not insert any literature in my painting, there is no (or should not be) any verbal translations of what my painting is when it is said to be completed and then hanging on a gallery or museum wall.  So what are they?  My best guess, and this guess has held up now for some years, my paintings operate in the human world as mirrors.  If an audience member has to start a translation process that remotely starts to add words to the mix of understanding, then the viewer should start discussing themselves.  There is no way to find any detailed verbal or literature about or from me in my painting.  The question, “what does it mean?” doesn’t have an answer.  My painting/s individually or in groups don’t mean anything.  There is no politics here.  There is no literature here.  There are no stories being told.
8:50 AM 7/11/2008

When you look at one of my paintings you are essentially looking at your self.  These paintings act like mirrors reflecting some essence of the viewer.  At times this can get scary.  Revealing a truth about one self can cause a denial.  The denial can also lead to anger, etc.  Don’t get angry at me, get angry at your self.  If what you see is negative, try to correct the issue.

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