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Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

Jan2015

You saw this painting (30” x 40”) in a gallery. You stood in front of it so long that you thought you might as well buy it if it’s going to hold your attention like that. You take it home. You hang it in your dining room and start preparing for your dinner party that night. You have just four people over, people you’ve known forever, who sometimes get rowdy and other times yawn without apologizing. But this evening you notice that they’re exceptionally witty and imaginative. You credit the painting for this lively upswing in your social life. Over the weekend your retired uncle Bert is dropping by on his way to the hardware store. Because of his back, he prefers to sit in the dining room chairs and he says, “what in the sweet-baby-jesus name is that supposed to be.” He’s trying to describe to you how he’s planning to rig the back gate so the kids won’t cut through his yard on their way to school, but he can’t seem to keep his bolts, wires and springs straight. He keeps repeating what he just said, going in circles, and relating things that aren’t mechanically connected in his invention. He mumbles something about getting older and he’s got to be going and would you happen to have a couple of aspirin.

You’re determined to get to the bottom of this. You take down your heirloom oil painting of the Spanish galleon from over the mantel in your living room along with the carved candelabra and you hang this new painting there. You plunk down on the couch in front of it, determined to enjoy an afternoon of peaceful art contemplation. Two hours later you’re in the kitchen pouring yourself a double Black Label. You stagger to your computer and write angry letters to congressmen about global warming and to the New Yorker about the use of the word “iconic.” You go on Facebook and unfriend anybody who’s ever posted a cat video or that thing where the elephant and the dog become best friends forever. You email your ex to say, the arrangement with the kids is not working, we have to do better. You suddenly realize that your mom doesn’t want another frog broach for her birthday, what she would really enjoy is a plate of little sandwiches you made and sit in the backyard with you one afternoon. You pick up that library book, the one that needs to be renewed again soon, about genocide in the 20th century that you’ve been mostly not reading because it’s so awful to think about that. It must be getting late, you guess, you go back to the living room, reach up to grab the painting with one hand, you unhook it and take it upstairs to your bedroom. Tomorrow you’ll hang it. For now you lean it against the dresser and you throw a sheet over it so you won’t accidentally catch sight of it and be drawn into its vortex.

In the morning you hang it properly and you start a new early-rise meditation. You stand in front of it for five minutes, a to-do list racing through your mind. Can do! You drape the sheet over it for the rest of the day because you have no time to look. Too much to do, to fix, to learn, to experience!

Bruce Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

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StreamConsciousness
Picture it large. It’s 48” wide.
You want to see it as a landscape, right? There’s that horizon line from the left, a third of the way down. Above that the colors are blue-ish and atmospheric. So that’s comforting. You’re on your way to an interpretation. Oh, good, you think, I can figure this out. You keep looking. What else can you latch on to, what else can you identify? Errrmmm, what’s the blue blotch, what’s the red trapezoid, what are those black strokes? Frustration sets in. No, wait, there’s that receding white brush stroke, that seems to suggest perspective. Wonderful, a sense of perspective. You keep looking for more landscape clues, but, alas, the landscape reference falls apart, it simply does not hold up. That’s your moment of release, of liberation. Exhale. Now you’re looking at the painting and enjoying it because now you’re actually seeing it.
StreamConsciousnessAnalysisAfter you stop figuring it out and you surrender to looking, you notice the little black splatters. And where are they? They are where the major forms of the composition converge. You missed them earlier. How could you miss these dots? Because they’re nothing. And yet the great big red, blue, and black shapes point to this nothing.
Diebenkorn1I, for one, love paradox. Takes my breath away.
The composition as a whole reminds me of Diebenkorn’s landscapes. Notice how his shapes converge, but on nothing.
It’s an aesthetic that goes way back to the ancient Greeks, who designed the Parthenon so that the center of the pediment facade would be an open space, not a column. We’ll get to that, later sometime.
Painting by Cassandra Buccellato, oil on canvas, ~40”x48”
Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993)

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LaurieAnderson
That’s the sign on the side of the Elmhurst Art Museum. Notice it’s bright yellow, like signage on highways that are designed to keep you alert.

With great wit, David Foster Wallace gave this attention message in a commencement speech at Kenyon. “This is Water:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

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LorrieMooreBlog
I haven’t worked on the caricatures for my facefame blog since, oh my, January. In the winter and spring months I was up to here in printer’s ink, modifiers, press settings, the ol’ hot plate, solvents, exhaust fans and periodic printshop fatigue. Printmaking is not for the faint of heart or lungs. In five months I pulled (that’s how printmakers talk) 152 prints, and many more if you count the rejects. But more on that later, much later. This past week I finally summoned the courage to see if I could get back into the facefame-caricature mode. (facefame.wordpress.com)
I like reading Lorrie Moore. I pulled up the Google images for Lorrie Moore on my 24” computer screen, leaned the customary drawing board against my desk and drew her with the customary Stabilo aquarellable pencil. Twenty minutes, maybe all of thirty, and there was this intelligent, witty face on my paper. I was rather pleased. Well, I thought, the hiatus on facefame has just ended. I love drawing like this and there are plenty of writers and other artists (maybe even politicians in this presidential circus) that I’m eager to draw.
The next day, the drawing didn’t look good any more. It looked pleasing, you know, goody-goody. It said “look how well the artist controls the medium; a little ironic, but at the same time it has that classical feeling; being done in sepia, it alludes to the mighty Renaissance and who doesn’t love Leonardo and Michelangelo.” Time to put it aside, reconsider.
How can I bring this drawing into the 20th century, ok, the 21st? To do that, the drawing needs to be a bit edgy. Maybe adjusting the size will help. I took it to Kinko’s and shrunk it, from 14×11 to about 11×9. Now, loosely tracing that size to my aquarellable paper, I was less tempted by detail and literalness. I leaned into the pencil, deposited a lot of black stuff, smeared with a damp paper towel, LorrieMooreReyetextured the paper (in printmaking that’s called tone) and found my caricaturing zone. I knew I was in it when I drew her right iris with a flick of the pencil. That cranked up my courage and then adding the color patches was a sure thing, easy in the sense of “hey-it’s-my-drawing.”
This happens all the time, this wanting to please and then realizing the next hour, or the next day, that what you really need to do is summon your courage and do strong work.

LorrieMooreBlog650
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RumpTower
In these blog ruminations on how to look at paintings I’ve never said anything nice about “the verbal mode.” The idea is to turn that thing off, so that you can take in the painting (or drawing) in as pure a visual mode you can muster. I’ll stick to that, but I do occasionally go verbal and when I do, I get fascinated by the origin of words.
When I was walking along the river recently, I looked up and saw the word “RUMP” on a building. How odd, I thought, to put such a word and in such an aggressive size on a building. One sometimes sees that word with a T in front and I wondered if there was an etymology that would lead back, not just to card-playing lingo, but to “triumph.” Given the current presidential race, wouldn’t that be appropriate.
I pulled the OED, always a good read, out of its case, and combed through twelve columns trying to find out what was up with “triumph.” Much of what I found spoke to political ambition. 1) One corruption of “triumph” is used to designate a “playing card so that any one such card can TAKE any card of another suit. Take that! 2) Over centuries, since the Romans, “Triumph” became “trumpet,” both the instrument and the person “who or that which proclaims, celebrates, or summons loudly like a trumpet.” Loudly, really? 3) A thing of small value, a trifle, pl. goods of small value, trumpery.” Trumpery is good. If these presidential ambitions lead to frustration, the next tower could have the word TRUMPERY in humongous, therapeutic letters on it.
But wait, the best is yet to come. The Middle English (12th-13th centuries) version of “trumpet” was “trompe.” Now, this is truly precious because tromper in French means to fool, deceive. Je trompe means I deceive. What a find!
But what about “rump?” Predictably, more windblown towseling. “With rump and rig, with rump and stump.” STUMP would be good on a building, wouldn’t it. Later. But wait, “rump” as a verb means “to flog or scourge.” No-no. If you say that, YOU’RE FIRED! How about YOU’RE FIRED on an office tower!?
Combing through the OED leads from one thing to another and I sometimes overcomb. We shall overcomb.


All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
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14StillLifeByWindow
What better way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon than setting up a still life for yourself. Sit down. Draw.
Your set up can be elaborate and you can select passages for multiple drawings.

14StillLifeByWindowCube

Because it’s in your home, you can return to it over several days…maybe weeks. Drapery, as we all know, can take time. Draw big.

14StillLifeByWindowPears

Treat yourself to many hours of drawing!

14StillLifeByWindowTomato
You can, of course, also draw from the images on your screen, like these.

14StillLifeByWindowPots
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
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IMG_5174
The intention here in showing you these passages from a large painting is to invite you to feast your eyes.

IMG_5175

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/matisse-zoom-one/
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
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