Self-similarity interests me on so many levels. It is the foundation of elegant design. It is the model of nature and evolution. It's true to its own nature from the atomic scale to the cosmic. There doesn't seem to be much written about its importance or role in the laws of the physics, but it seems to me to be as fundamental as gravity itself.
Someone recently asked about the borders I incorporate into the top and bottom of my pieces. If you are inclined to look at my oldest work you can see that it evolved early on with some trial and error. At first, I simply experimented with it as a compositional element, then as I started to consider it more deeply, a few ideas emerged. As I'm working I usually make the border last. It gives me a strong sense that I'm finished and offering the piece to the viewer at that moment—literally as if I'm handing it to someone. Leaving the two sides "open" makes a subtle statement that you are free to visually enter and exit the piece—to walk through it. The open sides also allow my body of work to be tied together and experienced as a continuum.
I've watched a few art documentaries over past week or two. The first was David Lynch's "Art Life," then one about HR Giger's last days, and lastly one about Peggy Guggenheim "Art Addict." All interesting, and very different, but had a few things in common. They all lived art immersively with a blind obsession, never fazed by lack of talent, critical affirmation or even their own sometimes tragic personal lives.
The Golden Ratio (1:1.618). It's said that the human body and face, and many examples in nature, display this proportion. It's then assumed that we naturally prefer these proportions in made objects. There is a similar phenomenon in sound and music where certain frequencies (notes) and combinations of frequencies (chords) are pleasing to our ears while other aren't. I imagine that these things come from somewhere very fundamental. I consider proportion constantly as I'm making art. I virtually never break out a calculator or grid but there is definitely a point where compositional choices feel right.
I'm always looking for the right mix—the perfect balance of not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft, not too much, not too little—juuust right. Then it occurs to me that the people who leave a mark are, more often than not, extremists.
This piece and the one just prior to this (170601) are the results of the same piece that split midstream. This happens often but I typically only complete one of the directions or merge them back together at some point. In this case I liked both the angular and vertical compositions so I completed both as separate pieces.
Just about anything becomes complex the longer you look or the harder you think about it. I imagine that everything becomes simple again once it's been fully explored, but most things are never fully explored.
This weekend was Art-a-Whirl, a three-day event in NE Minneapolis just a few blocks from where I live, and reputed to be the largest open studio event in the country. Many of the studios are really cool warehouse lofts and have a lot of character. It was a cold rainy weekend that added to the effect. The artists range from full-time pros to hobbyists, from fresh out of art academy to grisled veterans, and from shy to gregarious (mostly shy). I always come away from mass art events with an equally diverse mix of emotions—inspiration, frustration, determination, camaraderie, envy, and hope.
Thinking about the less obvious stuff. No less real but much more open to interpretation and imagination.
I've been playing the guitar for about as long as I've been making art. There are many parallels and a few differences, one is the collaborative nature of a band. After several years apart, the band is getting together for a weekend of rock making. This piece seems to be anticipating the high decibels and good times.
If you're going to be anywhere near Denver/Colorado Springs on July 29, drop me a line for the details.
I decided to buy a printer today. I'm excited! I've never owned a professional quality printer and always had to go to a print shop to have my work printed. I intend to make print subscriptions and portfolios available. Stay tuned!
I was thinking about the power trio of aesthetic, craft and message while I was working on this. Message has always been a weak area for me. Oh well, let the medium be the message.
Certain ideas expressed in a few words can guide you through a lot of life. One such phrase that I hold on to is "we're all the same." Today I was thinking about the fact that our small differences are all the more important, beautiful, and dangerous exactly because we are all pretty much the same.
"Pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern." I get a kick out of it when people say they see some thing in my abstract art. I often see the same thing myself while I am working on it. But sometimes it's a total surprise when they point it out.
It's important to me to find a balance between refining the things that make my work mine, and pushing it to new places. Allowing a random element, such as the time of day or the weather or something I just read, to affect a piece, gives it an opportunity for something unexpected to happen.
One of the ever present dynamics of making art are the decisions to work with, or work against, inherent tendencies. The digital medium has certain tendencies, like flat colors, because the medium is not fluid like paint. It tends toward either perfectly formed shapes because of its built in drafting tools, or awkwardly drawn shapes because of it's mouse/tablet interface. It tends toward small formats because computer monitors can only display a relatively small amount of information at once. It tends toward flat surface textures because it's a medium of pixels rather than viscous paint on textured surfaces. These are characteristics that I usually contend with. On the other hand, digital is easily capable of complex fine detail that would be tedious in traditional mediums. It favors layering over fluid blending. It favors repetition and pattern. It favors willful choice over happenstance by virtue of the powerful undo button. These are things I usually embrace. Then there are other tendencies such as my preference for yellow or aversion to green, or the organic feel of curves and irregularity versus the man-made implications of hard straight edges. These are things I try to balance and give equal consideration.
I've been asked about the way I name/label my work and it's been suggested that I should give them titles. I've always wanted to allow the viewer to see and interpret the work on its own, without additional explanation or queues, and I have a slight aversion to obtuse titles as they often seem gimmicky to me. I lean more toward a label rather than a title as a practical indexing mechanism. I started labeling them in the early 90's according to the date: year, month, day, so they would sort in order on my computer. My mistake of course was the Y2K problem because I hadn't used the full year—dumb, I know.
Now that my work has grown and evolved over more than 25 years, I think of the entire catalog as a single piece of work as much as I think of the individual pieces as such. Since I mostly display my work online, it's usually presented, like it is here, in a chronological sequence along with many or all of my work. The date/labels help tell the story of the entire "piece" and give context to individual chapters.