Showing posts with label impulse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label impulse. Show all posts

September 12, 2016

Music to listen to in the art studio


Yesterday in my studio I meditated to John Coltrane's Interstellar Space... 
for the second time. It was only a few minutes, but wow, what an impact! If you would've told me a year ago that I'd be into this album I'd have thought you were crazy. A year ago I would have definitely run the other way if someone put this on in my studio... but all of a sudden it's working for me. I find myself tangled up in the color and light of the sound, and breathing in all its breaths. Both times I opened my eyes to the brightness of my room knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the painting on the wall.

I don't usually meditate before I start painting, and I don't usually listen to jazz, let alone free jazz, while I'm working, but I'm glad for whatever gave me the impulse.

About the album, Robert Christgau wrote in his column for The Village Voice that he was amazed by the duets, which "sound like an annoyance until you concentrate on them, at which point the interactions take on pace and shape, with metaphorical overtones that have little to do with the musical ideas being explored."

I couldn't have said it better myself! Here, take a listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le4iF-ZAJ3g&list=PLd56fNeWVkFn6OqF_4JR86Gz5Db9MYpmP


Music has that magic ability to set a mood and tone for the day, bringing up memory and emotion, good or bad.
You can wallow and get lost in it, or it can drown everything out. Usually I spend half my day in silence and half of it with music on. There are periods when I listen to the same thing almost every day. Years ago I did a whole series of paintings to Peter Gabriel's Us. Then there are periods when I'm not satisfied with anything I hear. I've tried podcasts and local radio stations, old CD's, new CD's.

Because I'm aware of how much I'm influenced by it, lately I've been trying to be much more conscious of the music I listen to.
Last month out of frustration I spent several days in complete silence. I ended up listening to Pink Floyd's Clouds for an entire week after that. Bitches Brew by Miles Davis is another current favorite.

When it comes down to it there is certain criteria that needs to be met. If the music I'm hearing can jolt me emotionally in one direction or other without overwhelming me, I'm in. If it echoes the same mood as the painting I'm working on, that's good too. But it can't impede on the work. If I'm paying more attention to the lyrics of the song than the colors on my canvas, that's no good. There needs to be enough space in the music that I can subconsciously float myself into. Philip Glass is really good at that. If a whole album flies by and I realize I didn't hear any of it because I was lost in my work, that's perfection!

I just realized that everyone on this list is male, so here, to balance that out, depending on the mood: Concrete Blonde, Ani DiFranco, Nina Simone, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Blondie, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Zap Mama, Martha Wainwright... okay well, that more than balances it out!

Happy listening.






July 14, 2016

The Killer of Imagination

I think I've been wrong.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin

What can I say. Some people who know me intimately will think that's very funny. But yes, I think I've been, I mean I know I've been overly self-conscious, which is the killer of imagination and impulse. All my musing about muses and audience can't possibly be right. I don't need more people looking over my shoulder, I need less.

We should learn to be our own muses is my new motto. 

I have been away from the studio for probably the longest stretch since moving to Beacon, NY two years ago. I've worked hard in that time, making over 25 paintings and countless works on paper, so I very much needed this break... At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
It all started with this year's Beacon Open Studios at the end of May. I spent two full days gibbering to strangers (and friends) about my artwork. Something a lot of us who participated in the event noticed was that after a while of describing your work to people, you start repeating yourself over and over. The same descriptive words start flying out of your mouth. And you hear yourself saying things you never heard before. You're like, oh, so that's what my work is really about!!

So what did I hear myself saying all day for two days straight? That my paintings were in a transition phase, that they weren't exactly the kind of paintings I wanted to be making but somehow they needed to be made, that they were more formal and more figurative than I wanted them to be. Although I had very positive feedback, I found my own self-effacing comments very revealing. It was clear to me that that series of paintings was done with. But what to do next? And why did I need to make all those paintings that now felt forced and untruthful?

So, I've been away from it for a while.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin
The timing has been impeccable since I did just move, and moving as we all know, is hell. But now I'm ready to go back and I can't imagine what to do.

For starters, I've decided to refrain from sharing works in progress, so you probably won't see any new photographs for a while. In this age of sharing every second of our lives with everyone on the planet, I've suddenly found myself needing some privacy.  

I have a lot of work to do. Whatever it is that's been keeping me from the most truthful work I can possibly make has got to go! So I may need to close off the world for a bit, hole up in the studio and not come out till I figure something out. 

 
Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin



Promise I won't be MIA for too long..............




March 4, 2015

unique truths

How does one tell a "unique truth" 
as Richard Foreman talks about in his book Unbalancing Acts?
As he puts it, "we feel our lives as a series of multidirectional impulses and collisions."
"It is the impulse that is your deep truth, not the object that seems to call it forth. The impulse is the vibrating, lively thing that you really are."

Art is able to do this, to get to the core of what is really real and who we really are. It not only is able to relay an artist's own mind and spirit but it allows the audience the freedom to experience their own impulses simultaneously. In this way not only is the artist telling their unique truth but the audience as well is experiencing their own unique truth through it.

I think we recognize these truths when we realize that no other artist can give us this particular experience, and once we recognize it we could never mistake that work as belonging to anyone else.

My ultimate criterion for all great visual works of art includes such unique truths,
as well as a term I jotted down from I don't remember where and is now hanging on my studio wall, "extraordinary visual encounters".

As I'm writing this I'm trying to think of examples that apply: A work of art that could never have been done by anyone else; a unique truth and vision that is so powerful it becomes embedded in our subconscious and enlightens our perception of our selves and our world.

I would include the following:

Picasso's Guernica.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso








I think Monet's Waterlilies.

Monet's Waterlilies at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris

Monet's Waterlilies at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris








































I want to say Rothko's Chapel but I'm not sure if it is more of an extraordinary spiritual encounter than visual, and if that originates with the artwork or the context thereof.

the Rothko Chapel


the Rothko Chapel
















Francis Bacon.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
















































































As usual, I end with more questions.
I wonder how much of this stuff can be learned.
Is the consistent act of creating going to end in enlightenment?  
Can a unique truth or vision be purposed and pursued, or is it something you either have or you don't, or even something you stumble upon accidentally?
Maybe I haven't found my truth yet. I'm spending a lifetime looking for it but maybe I'm looking in all the wrong places..