Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Creativity takes courage." ~Matisse

One of the hardest things in writing is a blank piece of paper. Much has been written about it, as the mind races around trying to decide what to put down as the all important first sentence.

In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh wrote that he dislikes seeing a blank canvas, and when he sees one he feels obligated to smear paint on it. And I know exactly what he means.

In painting, before you can really do the work you have to do the prep. Once you get the surface ready (if canvas, with gesso) you still want to paint a neutral undercoat of some kind. At least, this is one approach that is common. It certainly doesn't apply if you are pouring stain onto a canvas like Louis Morris, but in traditional painting, that background undercoat helps set the tone.

So, I am staring at a box here where I am to write today's blog entry and I don't know where to go with it. Should I jump outside the box and write a string of absurd sentences about colons and dashboards or steering columns and carcinoma? Or do we follow this train we're on to some kind of logical conclusions?

I just deleted one direction this could have gone. Let's head southeast for a moment. No, wait, maybe west. Oh, never mind.

So, I am having an art opening this week on Tuesday evening. One of the pieces is a Tribute to Duchamp who said, "I am interested in ideas, not merely visual products." Thus was born the concept of conceptual art. The Tribute piece is an item I found at a garage sale for a buck, which if I were famous might garner ten thousand. The current price is, "To Highest Bidder."

The irony is that young people, and maybe even older ones, have never heard of Duchamp, or the urinal on display in a Philadelphia gallery (found art). They do not know Magritte, Matisse or any of the most prominent artists who initially steered the direction of 20th century art away from representationalism.

Another irony: I began my college studies moving in the direction of philosophy (ideas) but found art more appealing because you ended up with a visual product. So Duchamp pushed art in a direction, but pure idea as an end has to return to earth in some form... whether it be paintings or perhaps in acts of service to one's neighbors, community, etc.

Think about it. Then express yourself.

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