Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Unknown

Oil on linen, 17 x 21 inches
To throw oneself into an activity with passion and abandon, and then lose the comfort of what has always been safe and known . . . this is the path of artistic discovery. I imagine Michelangelo, (1475-1564) confronting an immense slab of white marble, and wondering what is waiting for his hands to bring forth. No doubt he felt a bit of fear to embark on such a grand task as to chisel a sculpture such as the masterpiece David. What did Christopher Columbus, (1451-1506) feel when he looked out to the ocean's horizon and wonder what distant land waited for discovery? The immensity of the sea is quite capable of swallowing everything puny in its path. More recently, in art annals, is the story of Jackson Pollack, (1912-1956) who abandoned painting recognizable figures and instead hurled fluid color in all directions across his canvases. He famously said, "When I am in a painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc, because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well."

There have been many great artists who have come face to face with the unknown and been challenged to enter the ring, rather than stand to the sidelines. Perhaps this was a reason Pablo Picasso, (1881-1973) loved going to bullfights. When the matador enters the ring with the bull, the outcome is not known . . . certainly either the animal or the man will die. The man depends on his talent to guide him and gain the adulation of the crowd.

Recently, I have begun experimenting painting with three colors only: red, black and white.

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