Friday, August 23, 2013

“The Jerry Saltz Abstract Manifesto, in Twenty Parts."

Dear Jerry,

Over the past few years, I've noticed a lot more abstract art being made, and I often find myself stymied by something a little bit embarrassing. Jerry, is abstract art for real? I mean, I often don't really get it. Isn't it just smudges and stripes and squares and stuff?

Dear Embarrassed,
You are not alone. I too have heretical thoughts like yours. It can also take 30 years to understand why an all-white painting by Robert Ryman or a pencil grid on canvas by Agnes Martin is art.
I can't tell you what abstraction is, but I can tell you a number of things that I think that it allows artists to do. What I say about abstract art could also be applied to representational art. With that in mind here's “The Jerry Saltz Abstract Manifesto, in Twenty Parts."

1. Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world.

2. Abstraction is staggeringly radical, circumvents language, and sidesteps naming or mere description. It disenchants, re-enchants, detoxifies, destabilizes, resists closure, slows perception, and increases our grasp of the world.

3. Abstraction not only explores consciousness — it changes it.

4. All art is abstract. A painting of a person or a still-life is a two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional reality and therefore infinitely abstract. Whenever an artist sets out to make something it turns into something else that he or she could never have imagined or predicted.

5. Think of an abstract painting as very, very low relief — a thing, not a picture.

6. Abstraction exists in the interstices between the ideal and the real, symbol and substance, the optic and the haptic, imagination and observation.

7. Abstraction brings the world into more complex, variable relations; it can extract beauty, alternative topographies, ugliness, and intense actualities from seeming nothingness.

8. Abstraction, like ideas, intuitions, feelings, and life, is not mimetic.

9. Abstraction is as old as we are. It has existed for millennia outside the West. It is present on cave walls, in Egyptian and Cypriot Greek art, Chinese scholar rocks, all Islamic and Jewish art — both of which forbid representation. Abstraction is only new in the West.

10. Abstraction gained ground in Western art after centuries of more perfected systems of representation. By the mid-nineteenth century, representation felt like a trap, and seemed empty, false, or limiting. A similar situation existed in the early aughts, after artists of the nineties re-deployed realisms in numerous ways. The field appeared closed off for younger artists. That’s why contemporary artists have not only begun to reexplore the possibilities of abstraction, they’re shedding much of the Greenbergian cant and academic-formalist dogma that attached themselves to it over the last 50 years. Abstraction is breaking free again.

11. Abstraction offers ways around what Beckett called “the neatness of identification.”

12. Rothko’s glowing floating rectangles of color are more than abstract patterns. They are Buddhist TVs or what Keats called “good oblivion. One sees what nothing looks like in them. They make you ask, “What light through yonder painting breaks?” (Now do you see how full emptiness and abstraction can be?)

13. Abstraction is just a tool. It is no less “real” than philosophy or music.

14. Abstraction is something outside of life that allows us to be present at our own absence or alternatively absent in our own presence.

15. Abstraction creates patterns of meaning and its own extremely flexible intricate syntax. It is astral synthesis.

16. Abstraction teeters on making empty gestures while also making deep statements.

17. The camera was supposed to supplant painting but didn't. Instead, painting — ever the sponge, always elastic — absorbed it and discovered new realms.

18. Abstraction may speak in a sort of intra-species visual-electronic-chemical-pheromonal code, creating optical-cerebral networks and wormholes, organic maps of unknown yet familiar territories, may have a kind of plant intelligence that allows it to grow, proliferate, flower, change directions, and survive relentless aesthetic predation from a lay public.

19. Abstraction contains multitudes.

20. I’ve left out No. 20, because I want to hear your opinion: What else does abstraction do that’s special? Comments are open below.


36"x36" Abstract Painting

I'm teaching a class at Donna Downey Studios on abstract painting and having a blast.  I put myself in the shoes of my first timers and decided to paint outside of what I have done before.
Here are some of the images in progress.  There is still one more 3 hour class to go and I have a few ideas of how I am could to finish it, but to be fair to my students (who don't have access to their paintings) I have to wait till class time to continue painting on this canvas.

This was the end of the first 3 hour class.
I spent the week dreaming up new ideas and feverishly went into action as soon as I finished setting up the class, students were at work, and I could as well.

Same Canvas. This is the end of the 2nd 3 hour class.  One more to go! WHo knows how I will change it next time, I don't! :)
I do like how Zany this painting is, with its 1980's colors and organically softened geometric shapes.
At this point, I would title this painting "Breaking Out".  But its not finished yet...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Update: commissioned family portrait painting

I took the week off from my normal work at Donna Downey Studio to finish a very important project.  My Aunt and Uncle commissioned me many months ago to paint their family portrait 5 feet tall x 4 feet wide. Acrylic on panel.  This project has been a joyful challenge.  One of the hardest things in the world for me to paint are people I know, let alone family. The reason it is so hard is because I really notice the mistakes and oddities about each part of the painting.  If it were a stranger, I probably would have finished this in a month and moved on. maybe... I really don't know about that when I think twice... But this painting deserved much more attention to detail.

Just to brief everyone on what is happening in the painting, My Uncle, my Cousin, and my Aunt are sitting on top of an overturned aluminum boat. The boat sits parallel to the water and there are some shrubs between the boat and the water.  The Sun is in the distance.

So here we are in progress: 
Since my last post on this I painted the faces, hair, and clothes.  
Only one set of hands are painted so far.

Notice the black boots on Aunt Trish, You will see them repainted as brown later.

Detail shot of my Aunt Trish

Christopher's hands are painted
black boots

painted a wedding ring onto my Uncle's left ring finger.

Brown Boots, as requested.
I noticed at this point that the shadow under Christopher's nose was too dark and therefor made him look as though his nose were longer than it really is.

Christopher's nose has been repainted so the shadow is not so dark.

Right now, I look at the painting and the shrubbery is very lopsided.  Only behind my Aunt, so I decided to even it out with some on the left.  After all in the photo I am working from there are small trees and shrubs behind them.  

Finished, but not yet approved.

I'll sign it when it is approved and repost a final image! Thanks for your interest in my painting process!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Diamonds and Dreamers

I recently finished these two paintings.  I really love how they turned out!  So I am adding them to my sales listing soon.  I was thinking about going back through my portfolio and adding a price to each piece currently for sale to make it easier for anyone out there to know what is available.

So after posting this, that will be my next blogpost. Thanks for checking out my most recent paintings!

Stay tuned for the sales listing if you're interested in purchasing any artwork for yourself!

Diamonds and Dreamers
(diptych - two separate paintings that hang together)
12"x12" each
Acrylic on canvas

I used Golden brand gold acrylic paint to glaze over the white and dark blue in areas.  My camera however can't translate the reflective quality of metallics.  So the gold is interpreted as a soft ochre as you see before you. The gold is reflective in person.  I hope you enjoy my art!