I closed up shop in Connecticut for the season and headed back south to the warm winds of Southwestern Bonita Springs. 2022 I refocused much of my artistic attention on Plein-air and studio figure drawing. I have always envisioned myself doing large physical abstracts because I enjoy the freedom of the abstract and the endless conversation surrounding the conceptual. Still, honestly, so much of "realism" is, in fact, conceptual. I can return to large acrylic abstracts at any moment, but I am finding significant value in mastering the technique by looking at what is before me. My most significant accomplishment this year is Letting go! Letting go of the struggle or notion that an artist must have a set style, letting go that I must be either abstract, studio landscape, or figurative in my approach, and letting go that it must be in oil paint or acrylic. I would never dream of having an entire closet of athleisure wear or only formal wear. I clothe myself in different styles and should have the same freedom to express myself artistically in different types.
In addition to vastly different styles (realism vs. abstract), perspective is not a static set rule either. We know it in the West as a vanishing 2-point perspective, but this is not so in other cultures. The Egyptian civilization, for example, depicts figures according to canonical tradition.
Chinese landscape painters express the sensation of distance three-dimensionally. Rocks, mountains, and mythical and human figures have no consistent straight lines to represent, and spatial depth could be effectively achieved by other means. Asian painters made no use of linear perspective. It is human nature to want to see things from the center. Yet, in the brief span of just 400 years- and only in the West -we codified space with a vantage point. Perspective was ordered and receded logically. This idea was challenged in the early 1800s by modernists such as Turner, Corot, Courbet, Manet, and Monet. It is not that one perspective is proper and the other is wrong, but rather that they can coexist in the same space and be relevant, challenging Western ideas.
We cannot stand in the center of things because there is no center; we are not the focus of space; space is more a coral reef or cloud. This perfectly receding space is comforting; it is nothing more than an illusion or a security blanket. Perspective ignores that things pulsate, form in networks, and break up; it can be like seaweed or foam where you trace the curve of a shape ten different ways with your eyes, where space is not constant. Corrections and adaptations and ghosts appear. You lose the ambiguous signature of life. It is a surrendering of free will to another person's system and can stop you from channeling your codes of perception and imagination. You forget that space is a free field.
Representation explains one time and place in man's entire history. It is relevant and is a technique that can be learned, but it is not the only means of communication. Art, at its essence, is a communication device. One method is not better than the other, just more familiar. I use it no as a standard language to learn the technique. It is helpful to forget the object's properties and paint what I see. One of the reasons children are so creative and imaginative is that they have not yet established static-repeating spatial patterns in the dark. When I stop thinking that I know what an object is that I can paint the thing. We all think an apple is red but is it red? Just as Letting go of ideas about style is valuable, so is letting go of what an object should look like. Never be too wed to one fixed idea. Don't stay in your lane. When you think you understand a thing, try to draw it. You might find out you don't understand it as well as you thought. Many people are familiar with The Picasso quote, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." Let Go of ideas and settle into the process. Just Go with it! Happy new year to All