Monday, December 29, 2014

ready to move into the next year

And now we move into the new year, though it feels the same as the last year.  Will this new year be one of change, of revelatory insights, of new horizons?  Will it be a step in the direction of discovering new methods, new shapes, new beauty?

ink watercolor dye acrylic rives bfk 22x30

my mother and banking

My mother told me once how she learned about banking and how money works: "When I was young my father made me put very nickel in the bank, even every penny I might find.  Then it got to be 1932 and all the banks closed.  I learned everything that day."

Everything had broken down in any case, and new things had to to be made out of the fragments. -Kurt Schwitters, 1930

collage, rives bfk 11x15

collage rives bfk 11x15

collage rives bfk 11x15

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I seem to be doing it again

I am repeating once again the same thing I did before...delicate balanced not my style kind of stuff...maybe it's just the season or something...I don't know, but here it is, once again...actually it is kinda pretty.

dye ink acrylic oil  rives bfk 11x15

acrylic pencil watercolor ink rives bfk 11x15

dye  rives bfk 11x15

Friday, December 19, 2014


hiraeth -(n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.

dye acrylic ink watercolor pencil rives bfk 11x15

dye ink watercolor  rives bfk 11x15

acrylic watercolor dye ink  rives bfk 11x15

whiskers last paw print
dye rives bfk 11x15

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the voice

You might sometimes think that accidents only occur sometimes, only occasionally in painting because after all don't they always look just like the painter's other work?   You also search for signs of growth and progress -like say Whistler's use of color or his white paintings. 

And at the same time we search for a unity in their work, a voice speaking to us.  I think most often of this voice, what it sounds like and what it is saying.  Does it speak to us of our own joys and struggles?  Does it say these things in a way that encourages empathy?

ink watercolor rives bfk 11x15

ink watercolor rives bfk 11x15

ink watercolor rives bfk 11x15

ink watercolor rives bfk 11x15

American Painters in France

I've been reading this wonderful book about 18th and 19th century American painters in might sound dull but it is full of incident that really blew my mind...early on it it is stuffed with painters incidentally trading arms, during the French revolution they are going after abandoned paintings and buying and selling oceans of barely legal work they get from escaping aristocrats, the words and phrases are exquisite.

collage dye watercolor ink rives bfk 11x15

collage dye watercolor ink rives bfk 11x15

collage dye watercolor ink rives bfk 11x15

collage dye watercolor ink rives bfk 11x15

Friday, December 12, 2014

who knows

But who knows?  I certainly do not.  I mean once in a while I do, at least for awhile I do.  But then I get lost and I no longer know anything, and so I've got to start over somehow.  

watercolor and ink rives bfk 11x15

watercolor and ink 11x12.5

watercolor and ink rives bfk 11x15

watercolor and ink rives bfk 11x15

The way I feel

I don't do these very often.  It's not that I don't like them.  I do like them.  But I don't trust them.  They are too easy, too glib, and after one second of looking at them you are done.  At least that is my feeling.

Monday, December 8, 2014

flow river flow

One's life, from being an exterior thing, grows inwards.  Its intensity stays the same; and d'you know, it's most mysterious, the corners in which the joy of living can sometimes hide away. -Blaise cendrars

ink & watercolor rives 11x15

ink and watercolor rives 11x15

ink and watercolor rives 11x15

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The angel is my watermark

The angel is there like a watermark a guarantee of your faultless vision. The angel has no goiter; it is the artist who has the goiter.  The angel is there to drop a sprig of parsley in your omelette, to put a shamrock in your buttonhole.  I could scrub the the mythology out of the horses mane; I could scrub the yellow out of the Yangtsze Kiang;  I could scrub the date out of the man in the gondola; I could scrub the clouds and the tissue paper in which were wrapped the bouquets with forked lightning...But the angel I can't scrub out.  The angel is my watermark.  -Henry Miller

acrylic, collage dye, nail polish on rives bfk 11x15

gouache, acrylic, dye on rives bfk 11x15

dye, ink, watercolor on rive bfk 15x22

dye, collage, watercolor, graphite, ink and gouache rives bfk 15x22

the young painter

I know I've talked about this before but I am thinking about it again.  And maybe you weren't there then when I first discussed it.  The light was beautiful that day as it was everyday in Los Angeles in 1956.  I was inside my head that day -deep inside and happy and lonely and warm.  It was our first large painting day.  I was using a bunch of reds and yellows...but I decided to cover it all with blue, with every blue.  I found I could make up blues using little bits of other colors.  I felt I was in heaven, in fact I had a foot in heaven's door.  

After a while I noticed that almost everyone was gone.  I was alone with what I felt was a masterpiece in the making.  My happiness overflowed and seeped out of me onto the table, the floor, the walls of the schoolroom, to the face of the clock... I was possessed...there was more than a hint of madness flowing through me.

dye, acrylic, ink, watercolor  rives bfk 11X15

acrylic, ink, watercolor rives bfk 11X15

acrylic, dye, watercolor rive bfk 11X15

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It sounds like defeat

I was reading an artists description of some work he was doing where he tried to duplicate some small work some thirteen times....and the words he used seemed so cool, at least at first...

The words being used were like "capillary action, surface tension, evaporation, dispersion" and cool things like all sounds so scientific and careful...not some crappy amateur art project.  I feel like I'm floating in the Artforum pool, swimming with David Hockney and Andy Warhol, waving to artists on the side chairs.

He found, discovered is word I think he used, that he couldn't duplicate the picture...not at all.

Those words seem at first to taste so scientific -they seem to have a clarity of vision that is going to take me somewhere clear and healthy, to examine work in a good happy way...Yet, I then almost immediately realized that I already know all that stuff...I've talked about how work cannot be duplicated and in fact it is just that quality I admire so much.

That is the stuff you get to see when you look through an artist's "small pieces" and his studies for larger work.  And I often find I like it better than the large stuff.  It has that fecundity that Helen Frankenthaler talks about.  And more importantly to me me at least, it has that spark that can enter all pieces of sudden creativity.

That must be why I find almost all explication to be useless, to feel like defeat, a defeat in the midst of a victory celebration.  So many of the cards in a museum show seem to be trying to beat the artist up, kick him while he's down, drown him, make it all fit "courageously" together in an endless celebration of the Art of Our Time.  But nothing fits together, not today...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Arthur and his Knights

Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone,  Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory.  Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory. John Steinbeck

Perhaps it is so with everyone, that he looks for weakness in the strong to find promise of strength in his weakness.  -JS

Then it is better sir, to love whom one cannot have?  Prorobably better, Lancelot said.  Certainly safer. -JS

This is beyond understanding said the king.  You are the wisest man alive.  You know what is preparing  Why do you not make a plan to save yourself? And Merlin said quietly, Because I am wise.  In the combat between wisdom and feeling, wisdom never wins.  -JS

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

thanksgiving rain

It rained for two days and two nights, very quietly and gently, the smoothest lightest rain, and finally, it gradually turned to snow.  Very beautiful, sweet, and time streched out in a long long day.

I thought about the time when I worked in retail, and I hated rain then as it would inevitably ruin sales and cause all kinds of trouble as our stock built up and new trucks would keep coming every day...but finally I've almost forgotten those days, and the rain made me happy, the last sweet rain for all my plants and trees before thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

real time archeology

Magazines, postal mail,purchase tags etc.  I'm not if you can have this exactly -real time archeology -but I feel anything and everything I use in these is gone forever from the moment I get it down on paper.  It enters my work -the brand of a bandaid, Orrington elementary, our photo of sweet little Rook our bearded dragon -certainly that type of instant photograph, Christmas stickers, the beautiful Mertz store in Chicago, the designs of fabric, the fabric itself, the reproductions of paintings which will no longer exist...-none of these things will have existence within moments...

Their very meaning will be gone erased out of the world.  All these things are fleeting, lost, of no value even as they desperately speak of it to us as they arrive.  They will have no function, no comprehensibility, no weight or substance even tomorrow.  They are the ancient past, the detritus of a culture that no longer exists in a language that no one speaks.  Is this my way of saying goodbye to them?  And to us who will no longer exist whose lives will have no import, no meaning, no value even to bother remembering,  -the past of a done thing.  Even the process of trying to remember how things were will be gone forever, their will be no recorded history, no thought to that old time at all...

What ever thinks or projects some importance will have none.  The very act of preservation is almost gone, life itself is almost over, airplanes will no longer fly, automobiles will be extinct, washing pads will disappear, baths and showers will be the quaint things of another time,  only gum will still exist for those who like it...

Painting will be of no value -no significance.  It is already worn out, dead and valueless, just another cheap no longer will have anything to say to anyone at is all over.  Now, sleep well tonight, dream the dreams you have...they do not matter.  It will all change in the next frame...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

oblique strategies

I took a few more photographs today of some paintings I feel ambiguous about...and before I wrote anything I went to the oblique strategies website to seek some insight...

What I got with the first card was -clear white card.  So I thought let me jus see if I try again.  And I got -breathe more deeply.  hmm.  So i though what the hell, let's try once more.  And i got -small infinite gradations.

Okay then.  Here they are, all three.  I don't know what to think.  I don't even know how to think actually.  As Kurt said -I feel stupid and contagious.

Other times I feel brave and I put the paintings out and I feel proud doing it.  It sometimes feels outrageous doing this at all.  Thank god not many people bother to look at this let alone try to read it.


Sporadically, as I paint I find myself with a group of a few, or maybe even a pile of what I call unfinished work -or what the paintings call not done.   So I put these aside for a while.

And later on...and that can be and usually is years later, I will look through them and see if any of them have changed their mind.  And this doesn't happen often at all.  In fact I can remember only two or three in my life that I've gone through this. 

The last time was back in 2007...I looked through the big pile of set aside pieces and found four that made me think of an old Huxley quote that went something like this: "...the diaphanous prisms of light behind the near familiar object."  I have no real idea of what that means, but those four looked at me with eager friendly eyes.  And I pulled them out and made four wonderful pieces from them.

I was very happy.  And now, I once again hope to go through this process and find a couple that will be willing to work with me again.   I know some artist friends who say oh yea I go through that all the time and I tear off the part that works... -but I don't do that very much at all.  I'm asking the whole piece, will you talk with me?

I want us both to be happy, as it makes me sad to have them sit there, unfinished, almost unwanted, while I know that each has some unique story it wishes to sing to us. Let's remove the parclose and face one another.

With English literature, if you do a bit of shonky spelling no one dies, but if you're half-way through a maths calculation and you stick in an extra zero, everything just crashes into the ravine.  -Mark Haddon