Sunday, May 23, 2010

Random Studies in the Romantic Chaos

Wedding card for a librarian couple. This book title seems to capture the notion of marriage pretty well, I imagine. Hopefully they won't take the cracked liberty bell between the hearts as a bad omen. (Their ceremony included a lot of Irish bell-ringing...) and this, from the poet Gwendolyn Brooks:

Exhaust the little moment.
Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold
it will not come
again in this identical disguise.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cowboy Ikebana 2

I asked my japanophile artist friend Season if it's real ikebana if I selectively cut leaves off. (I wanted to know how I was doing on the cowboy-to-geisha scale of flower arranging). She said yes, but I quickly ascertained that she was just trying to make me feel better. "What you're doing is more chabana, which derives from nageire...people who do real ikebana spend hours finding exactly the right flower...then there's wabi-sabi and the principle of asymmetry..." she trailed off.

Loud and clear, Season. With Season dropping the c-bomb, I was forced to do some research on the tea ceremony, during which I determined, unsurprisingly, that I was light years from real ikebana. Which, for all my blather, is totally fine.

Pictured: Bangkok orchids and trash orchids from last week, mystery foliage, grape hyacinth, tulip stem.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Billie Holiday (Lady Sings the Blues)

I just finished reading Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. It's a fictionalized biography in verse of the jazz singer Billie Holiday, known in another life as Eleanora Fagan. I've always loved Billie Holiday, so I thought I would do a portrait of her. I spent about a half an hour in the room with a blank piece of paper before nerves made me finally do something about it. Here's the portrait after an hour's work. More later!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Faux Ikebana 1

I practice a kind of cowboy ikebana every week in my studio. And by that I mean freestyle flower arranging, as opposed to wrassling cacti and tumbleweed into submission. (Although that sounds like an interesting challenge). Any resemblence to actual ikebana is purely coincidental, since I know next to nothing about it. That being said, who knows what kind of wabi-sabi madness might creep into all of this?

Pictured: orange orchids from the co-op trash, fuchsia orchids from Bangkok?, tulip stems from the garden.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Progress vs. Perfection: Death Match.

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)

Today I'd like to share some French art wisdom from Eugène Delacroix, which I encountered, hilariously, on a Yogi teabag:

"The artist who aims at perfection in everything attains it in nothing."

And this guy looks like he
knows. Check out that stance, the gaze fixed on some distant invisible object, the hand on the breast. Actually, I like to think he is about to pull out a pistol for a surprise duel with his nemesis, Ingrès...

But I digress. The point of invoking Delacroix today is to point out that anyone who does art (or anything creative) knows that perfection is the enemy of progress. Now, when I say knows I mean
intellectually knows. Like you know the alphabet or that George Washington had wooden teeth.

Ok. But that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm interested in is the kind of knowing that bypasses mere logic and stabs to the still-beating heart of realization. As in: you know, you understand, and that understanding grounds your experience of reality, like gravity.

In art, I find myself going way over the edge of perfectionism all the time. I want everything to be awesome! To the point of denying the process, all the wrongness that has to be sloshed through to get it that way. It's like the Think Method in the Music Man...such poetic bullshit.

To subvert the Think Method, I have decided to assiduously post my art projects on my blog for awhile. I'd like to invite you, internet vigilantes, to follow along if you are so inclined. I will be in my studio, kept company by the ghost of Delacroix, death knells of the Minuet in G in the background.

P.S. It might interest you to know that some artists follow an artistic lineage, like a family tree. I technically belong to the artistic lineage of Delacroix, as in: I was taught be artists who were taught by artists who were taught by Delacroix. Except I don't really care about that.