When I paint or work with glass, I begin with simple line drawings, known as gesture drawings. These are continuous, fast line drawings, pen never leaving the paper. Whether it is a thought, an expression, a memory or a live study, it is important to express a sense of movement and rhythm. An example of the quick gestures or scribbles, if you like, are the initial drawings that I made of bikers on the bike path in Lincoln Park.They were the initial studies for a new series of paintings that I started over a year ago, called At Play in the City. I am back at work on the series.
The concept of gesture drawing and its importance to creating a piece of art, is best described by Kimon Nicolaides in his book, The Natural Way to Draw. He writes: “You should draw, not what the thing looks like, not even what it is, but what it is doing. Feel how the figure lifts or droops, pushes forward here, pulls back there, pushes out here and drops down easily there.”
The statement, “Black is a Color” was the title for a Matisse exhibit held by the M Maeght Gallery in Paris, 1946. Matiisse’s comments on black and his use of black in his paintings caused me to rethink the way in which I use black in my paintings.
I have primarily used black in my paintings to develop a line into a continuous flowing line, to create a sense of movement and rhythm. The image below, Verse Floating Free, is an example. I never thought of black as a color other than depicting and shaping a line.
With Matisse’s remarks in mind, I began to experiment with black in my figurative series, as a color and an object. First, I did several quick sketches of nudes leaning or reclining into an empty space with no visible means of support.
Then I worked an several washes, filling in the background and began to introduce black as a color and a support for the reclining nude.
The final paintings take shape with the black being a strong color, an object and a support.
I believe that being willing to experiment is essential to the makeup of an artist. If unwilling to experiment, the artist and the art becomes repetitive and flat.
When walking through the park the other day, seeing the delightful artwork of children, I was reminded of a post that I published about a year and half ago.
It was that type of day, late this morning, Friday, April 13th, when I had to escape the studio, go for a walk, breathe in the spring air and enjoy the sun. No need to be superstitious.
I headed out of the studio, across Milwaukee Avenue, down Damen Avenue, straight to Wicker Park and there, by chance, discovered some delightful works of art. They were not pretentious or insulting. They contained no political messages. They were not the work of vandals. The art was perfect for a spring morning, colorful, expressive and playful, the work of children.
Many people walking through the park, earplugs firmly in place, playing with their smart phones, missed these beautiful extemporaneous pieces of art. This is sad; because, with spring showers, winds, foot traffic, this art will vanish. Hopefully, these artists will come back to continue their delightful work.
Art is all around us. All we have to do is stop, take a moment, look and enjoy.