Thoughts to share, ideas to ponder
It was a blustery, wet day but I could not be stopped from painting the surf. The surfers were out in full force. The raindrops came later and de-saturated my painting. Still, I could not have been more blissful, the fresh salty wind blowing in my face. Always so much work to haul oneself out plein air painting....ALWAYS worth the effort, whether the painting is a masterpiece or a bust.
I am honored that Stephanie Portal asked that a demonstration of my work be included in a supplemental magazine of the Annual Pastel issue which was published a few months ago.
It was fun to see the demonstration in the centerfold!!
I spent many years painting in watercolor. I remember my uncle, artist John Huish, toting his gear down the bank to paint the Rogue River in Grants Pass, long before "plein air" was fashionable.
After a walk near the ocean today in Laguna Beach, on a blustery and lightly rainy morning, I was compelled to return with my own gear and paint. Watercolor lends itself to painting to water and moist skies. After being there awhile, the sun came out and the stormy day was no more.
How to describe the utter bliss of sitting there and painting this, my old watercolor brushes and palette like old friends almost seeming to say, "Where have you been, My Friend?"
There was a board there already, spanning two rocks where someone (maybe from one of the lovely houses on the cliff overhead?) had made a little bench. It was perfect! And my bottle for my paint water says, "Carpe Diem", "Sieze the Day".
And that's what I did! In tribute to my Uncle John...a true artist....
How fun is this? Did not know this had been written until I started poking around on Facebook and was tagged with words I could not read! Click on the image to read the article...you speakers of French!!
I am thrilled to have been one of 40 artists selected to participate in this exhibition of pastel paintings in the lovely small town of Villepinte France, April 26 through May 10, 2014.
It promises to be a wonderful experience and a fun adventure. I am not sure which paintings I will choose to exhibit for the approximately 12 feet of space I am allotted and may ask for your input on that. Stay tuned!
This painting started as a large demonstration painting for a small invited group from the Pastel Society of Southern California and was continued the following day to emphasize some key principles in the Mentored Paint-a-Long.
I arranged and rearranged until the setting felt right....so worth the wait and the patience to do so, as I am quite pleased with the way this turned out. Finished today and painted entirely from life.
Multum in parvo typifies the art of Dirk Hagner. I saw his many brilliant examples of much in little at the Festival of Arts this summer.
This aquatint and chine' colle on origami paper is a little less than six inches square. Note the cropping of the figure and her position in the square, the angle of her head, the posture of her hands and body....so much in so little.
The other body of work, Txtd Haiku Broadsides, that he presented stopped me dead in my tracks. I was transfixed. View the letterpress print below. What comes to mind? Think old and traditional, new and modern....
Old? The "words" above are Dirk's "translation" of haiku poetry by the Japanese poet, Issa. This, from Dirk's website:
Haiku, a 17 syllable verse form, divided into successive line phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, originated in 14th century. Kobayashi Issa was born in the mountains of Japan and died in the same village, 1828. He gave himself a haiku name, Issa, which means Cup-of-Tea.
Traditional? (as distilled from Dirk's writing): Traditional is the large typography of American broadside printing where fonts were chosen by what typefaces were at hand and promise the largest words in a line...from the notion that "bigger is better".
Modern? (again distilled from Dirk's writing):..'.the "acid" bite of the print against the notion of the romance of haiku.'
New? The "texted" or in this case, "Txtd" version of the haiku poem (and I'm guessing that the original Japanese translation had 17 syllables). Finally, here is the original haiku:
As if nothing
had happened –
and the willow.
22 x 17 inches
So very much--poetry and visual art--the sound of the words, the shapes, colors and size of the letters, the position of the crow bending down against the strength of the red, the linear draping green of the willow and its leaves, large blue stars, small blue stars (and then consider how significant the white scalloped pattern at the top of the image is to the design)...and you will understand the beauty, the profundity, of much in little in Dirk Hagner's art.
Multum in Parvo--An Essay in Poetic Imagination
I discovered this little gem of a book by Carl Zigrosser about a year ago. Multum in parvo is a Latin phrase which means "much in little". The author has used small woodcuts by artists such as Goya, Rembrandt, William Blake, and Max Weber--from as small as about one inch square to as large as about two inches by three inches--to expound upon the idea that "poetic imagination" can be fully expressed in a small space.
My take on the essay is that it is less about the specific art presented, than it is about expressing the idea that "largeness of meaning can be conveyed with the utmost economy of means" and that we all have the capability to enjoy the expression of imagination, either by creating ourselves, our enjoying the power of huge meaning contained within very small spaces. He begins by referring to this:
It is an example of largeness of meaning conveyed in such a seemingly simple equation, "meeting the required standard for abstraction with emotional content limited to but a few."
He then moves onto to the Chinese symbol for "eternal" or yung which could serve as a paradigm for multum in parvo.
The author says, "There are...calligraphic elements, the sensuous action of the brush and the spirit that motivates it. The direction, the tension or tenderness of the stroke, the vitality of the movement, and the conscious design of the whole have a direct appeal to the imagination and create an image of enduring beauty and signficance."
From there he uses Japanese haiku as an example of largeness of meaning contained in just three verses and 17 syllables. Finally, he shows examples of 13 additional artworks, like those shown above, to emphasize his point.
Notwithstanding the fact that I believe artists are sort of pre-programmed to work at a certain "comfort" size as dictated by their DNA: smaller than life size, life size, or larger than life size, large for large sake should never be a goal. There is a joke in the art world that "if you can't paint, paint big" and that somehow a large piece, by virtue of its size, can make us think it's more significant than it really is.
I like to paint near lifesize so it means that my work, unless I am painting tiny things, will be large. Multum in parvo reminds me that every little piece of space must have intentionality behind it, that large "bravura" strokes, although fun to do (and have a certain artistic "cachet"), must take a back seat to the message and meaning.