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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Notes to self: Richard Diebenkorn

When I wrote my last post, which was on going to the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, I forgot what was posted as you first walked into the show. And that was his notes to himself. They had gotten lost in the depths of my purse and just resurfaced yesterday. Here they are:

Notes to myself on beginning a painting:
1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable
2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued-except as a
stimulus for further moves.
3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
5. Don’t “discover” a subject – of any kind.
6. Somehow don’t be bored – but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
8. Keep thinking about Pollyanna.
9. Tolerate chaos.
10. Be careful only in a perverse way.
Sink, Richard Diebenkorn
To break up the quotes, I scanned this photo from the book on the Berkley Years exhibit. "the sink" that both my husband and I thought marvelous and which I referenced in that last post as not being available online. You all may think us crazy, as after all, it is not even a particularly "pretty" sink, and definitely not fashionable. Probably especially so in 1966 when this was done, but none-the-less, it showed very well in the museum. Three value groups, clearly defined, and what is hard to see here, as in most reproductions the nuances are lost, there is a highlight on the wall to the right. I bought the darn book just to get this. To remind me, Keep it simple sweetheart!

Then there were the quotes on the walls, which I also neglected to share with you and which I thought worthy of writing down at the time. You know the ones, the big letters written on the walls above the displayed paintings. These are not all of them, just some of them. I found these scribbled in a forgotten pocket from our trip.

"Abstract means literally to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract...a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts."

"All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression."

"I begin to feel that what I was really up to in painting, what I enjoyed almost exclusively, was altering, changing what was before me - by way of subtracting or juxtaposition or superimposition of different ideas."

Most of these I relate to in some way, and if not directly, I hope to at some point.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Diebenkorn at the de Young Museum, SF

It doesn't seem that long since we were in California, but we have been home a week now. I feel fortunate to have in-laws that live relatively close to San Francisco and who will put us up or is it put up with us? Either way, seeing Richard Diebenkorn's work in person was a real treat. I had only seen images online and in books. Most of my favorite paintings from the book I have were a part of this exhibit. This studio sink has always been one I am drawn to. Next to it in the exhibit was one called just "Sink" that was ink and charcoal on watercolor paper. I cannot find the image online for it, but I thought it a stunning piece. Just three simple values, and it was breathtaking.
Then his little black and white studies are masterly. Just a simple pair of scissors. There were a few examples of where he took the same still life set up and painted it from different angles making a totally different composition. Using just common items, unrelated, and yet uniting them. ie wooden matches, an acorn, a spoon, a pair of closed scissors and a bottle of what looks like liquin. I could not find the images to show this set up but this was just one example of that theme.
 I have always loved this figurative piece, Sleeping Woman, and seeing it in person did nothing to diminish that.

I also discovered another figurative piece that I just loved called Seated Woman; such a simple composition yet very dynamic.
I was glad to see that the Wednesday that we went to see this show the galleries were full. Not too crowded to be uncomfortable, but well attended for mid-morning, mid-week. I was glad that it was not a timed exhibit although it was more than just the cost of the normal museum entrance fee. It showed a good range of his Berkley years, as it is called. The book from the exhibit has substantially more works in it then was in the exhibit, but anymore pieces and it would have been overwhelming.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ogden Street Alley Recaptured

I realized while I was writing the post on the Moonshine Yarrow painting, that I have stood, in a relatively small area of our alley, and done a number of paintings. I thought it might be fun to recap some of them in a post so that they all can be seen together. I have looked north more than south with an east thrown in. My first painting was in the Summer of 2006, and it was painted plein air. A bunch of hollyhocks had grown up against the neighbors fence where I had thrown some in a pile while cleaning up my garden the year before. I piled them high before putting them all in the trash at once so I would not have to stop while in my gardening frenzy. I was so taken with the crop of hollyhocks that volunteered there, lovely in the afternoon light, that I got out my gear and set up. I am facing east here, but standing in almost the same spot I stood to do the Moonshine Yarrow painting. This is the first year since 2006 that these flowers did not do well. I think it was all the rain we had this summer. These guys definitely prefer hot and dry.
Jeff's Fence, July 2006, 24x12
A few years later, I did this 36x24 studio piece from the photos I had taken that day. This painting was in the National Oil Painters of America show of 2010 in Scottsdale AZ. I had so much fun painting this. I loved all the colors in the big heart-shaped leaves and the way the leaves layer and cast shadows.
Hollyhocks in the Alley, 36x24, 2009
My next painting from my alley was in the Fall of 2009, and it was also painted plein air. I remember being attracted to the way the white truck, garage and tree trunk were carved out by the grays of the leafless trees behind. I was also attracted by the repetition of oranges of the fences, the garage and the bush being hit with the afternoon light. Monochromatic with a splash of fall color!Or a study in orange and blue, which are complimentary colors. I stood on the corner of our driveway to get this view. This painting was in the Plein Air Artists of Colorado Show in 2010 when it was held at Saks Gallery in Cherry Creek.
Alley in Fall, October 2009, 14x11

Work in Progress, 24x36, oil on linen, 2010
I did a plein air study for this larger studio piece one cold snowy day. It was quickly done as I was standing in the alley on the hill and it was very icy standing in the shadow of the house. There was not a lot of room if a car slid going up or down the hill. I was mainly focused on the shapes and repeating angles of the garage roofs. I had driven home from running errands and saw the guys working at the end of the alley and decided I Just had to capture it. I had about an hour before they broke for lunch. This finished painting took the blue and orange theme I had started in the first painting to a deeper level. Having the snow on the ground was a huge asset. I like the scene from the middle perspective down the alley and just at the crest of the hill in the studio piece.
WIP study, 11x14, February 2010
Then in July of 2010 I did this painting of the hollyhocks. I am standing on the edge of Jeff's driveway right across from our garage looking south. (His fence was in the first painting of the hollyhocks.) One of my friends at work had complained about my putting dumpsters front and center in my alley paintings, so I angled myself so that the dumpster was hidden by the hollyhocks. Hollyhocks at High Noon.

Right Up My Alley study, 14x11, early July 2010, oil on linen
I intended to do the larger painting from this study in my studio, but I ended up painting it outside as well. It took me two weekends to do it, but I went out at the same time each day  (11 a.m.-12: 30 p.m.) and did what I could before the light changed too drastically. I decided to lower the vanishing point in the second painting, but the more I look at the first one, the more dramatic that angle seems and I like it. There is now a 6 foot privacy fence where the chain link fence is so the little alley house cannot be seen from this angle any longer. :-( I am noticing more and more of that since I started to document my neighborhood and its alleys. Such a shame. What are people trying to keep out is what I want to know? I would miss chatting with the people who are always walking by our corner lot house, still with an old chain link fence.
Right Up My Alley, late July 2010, 24x18, oil on canvas
Here I am reverting back to looking north. I see this view so often in my rearview mirror as I park, that it is now an old friend. Again, I was coming home around lunchtime from doing errands or walking the dog, and had to stop and take photos. it is just a quiet peaceful scene. I just finished this painting this past spring and have not posted it before now. Just goes to show you that the everyday and commonplace can continue to be "new" and "exciting" if you just don't get to stuck on it being "commonplace,"  or thinking you know it. The only time of year I have not done yet in my little world, is spring. I will have to see what next year brings.
Gently Falling Snow, 18x24, oil on board painted Spring 2013