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What of What?
 

The voice expects something. That is what viewing or making the painting (here, anyway) is. The voice won’t feign to “get it”—the voice won’t try to understand.

sketchy representational painting

If the painting can get managed by the voice then the experience begins. (But note that “managed” is meant as “handled”, or put into a flow state.) The voice, if it so manages, will automatically and charitably read the whole surface of the painting, and probably several layers deep if it manages to stay with the painting for enough time.

As an afterthought, none of this experience operates like economy operates. Therefore, none of this experience attracts, convinces or deals to anyone. What is what? is the continuous state of this experience, whereas the continuous state of economy is That is that. This difference is at the heart of my metaphysics of painting.

 
Studio Notes: Day 12
 

I paint a body, Impressionist, in front of a cute face, also Impressionist. No stylistic or technical mashing together—this is all brushwork.

 
 
Impressionist painting

Impressionist painting

 
 

There is a lot of “air” in it at first; I squeeze the air out, but not all; I retain some. In effect, I retain some of myself, some of my life and fear.

I can crawl and reminisce about mundane things, but I’d rather not. After all, it’s all mundane, including myself.

We’re typically the most sad regarding the deaths of people we know about; “We know about”—that is, even acquaintances or complete strangers, as long as we’re cognizant of them.

 
Studio Notes: Day 11 (Part II)
 

I paint “arm through water (Cartagena-Tayrona-Minca)”.

The painter in me prevails…
Paintings are nothing if not visual-emotional puzzles, with the resounding breath-thought, “Am I poisoned?”

 
 
“arm through water (Cartagena-Tayrona-Minca)”

“arm through water (Cartagena-Tayrona-Minca)”

 
 

I build the painting—if it has to be something at all rather than nothing—out of small battles, experiments. Is this the middle ground between stability and painting?

 
Studio Notes: Day 11 (Part I)
 

Experiment is grey. I feel an irresistible force to get ‘clean’, to ‘take a vacation’.

It feels, 11 days in, that there is enough mess, enough work, enough experiment.

Now it’s the time to understand the impulse to sweep my ‘Welcome’ mat; time to understand relationships between discrete phenomena, such as a North Atlantic coastline and an untimely, painful malaise; time to paint ‘miniatures’; time to be decadent; time to stop being concerned about my not caring—to attain a higher-order not caring: not caring about not caring.

The rain. The room
Approval-disapproval.
Vision. Lust non-lust.
Paradise. Class. Basement

 
 
This comforts me

This comforts me

 
 

I paint a small jelly to bring me comfort. It does.

I can make these all flowers.

I notice externally induced thoughts, likes and dislikes…

Boooooooo! It’s raining today.

 
Studio Notes: Day 10
 

I cannot say I’m losing my mind, but rather my sense of practicality. What is practicality anyway? The cars with drivers stop at red lights by accident, or they do so intentionally but the result is the same

 
 
Bag and hand fusion tool

Bag and hand fusion tool

 
 

The mirror reflects everything perfectly only by accident. I use a plastic bag over my arm and the two things fuse into a tool, both by accident and intention.

I paint a blue-red abstraction, melting, spliced and lascivious. It becomes a pair of RAPID BLOODY EYES!

 
Studio Notes: Day 9
 

I touch up the “expressionistic mashing” from yesterday, as well as the earlier abstraction.

A delicate issue arises—clearly from externally induced thoughts: I’ve painted a severed corpse in front of a rainbow, and

 
 
My painting as organic holism

My painting as organic holism

 
 

I imagine hearing accusations from people that this painting sends a homophobic message, the depiction of a corpse in front of a pride symbol. I start thinking the paranoid thoughts obsessively, fearful that this painting would be seen this way and that it’s just plain ignorant to the issue. But then the realization comes to me that these are not symbols that I’ve painted. I do not care to symbolize anything (and, of course, to impart any level of homophobia). Rainbows and body parts exist unsymbolically in nature. My painting—as well as all painting intentionally devoid of symbols—IS nature. My painting is not radical juxtapositons, that is not my language, but rather it is organic holism.

I paint two women wearing hijabs in a red desert. It, again, is INTENDED unsymbolically. It can be whatever. There are no limits, no interpretations (I guess I agree with Max Beckmann a little), no actualization. The painting as anti-actualization. If one is impervious to nothing, one can outlast any version of hell.

 
Studio Notes: Day 8
 

Art can express thoughts that are available in verbal language but not aesthetically functional when expressed by the latter. The expression of an expletive is never graceful—that is, aesthetically functional—in verbal language, but in visual language there is possibility for this level and form of expression

 
 
Expressionstic mashing of the cute, representative, and brushy

Expressionstic mashing of the cute, representative, and brushy

 
 

At the studio I put detail on yesterday’s two abstractions. I create a severed-headed corpse and cute face landscape. I put a Jurassic tree in the landscape, an action which I had thought about a day earlier while I was walking down the street. The thought, more precisely, is putting paint down EXPRESSIONISTICALLY and mashing together the brushy, the painterly, the cute and the representative all in ONE.

 
Studio Notes: Day 6
 

I walk from 88th Street on the Upper East Side to the west side of Harlem and 125th Street, pick up supplies, then to the studio at 107th. Full sun, my skin rendered pink; I see a veiled mystic in Central Park. A trek replete with strangers and bumping into them.

 
 
A mystic in Central Park

A mystic in Central Park

 
 

I reach the studio and listen to Mozart’s 1st and 2nd. I make a painting which isn’t Cubist; rather, it’s a cabbage patch or a crop:

 
A “Cabbage Patch” or “Crop”, not Cubist

A “Cabbage Patch” or “Crop”, not Cubist

 
 
 

What if, when painting, it’s not my energy that matters, but only the making—only the making of the painting—NOT the style, NOT the concept, NOT the aesthetic, NOT even the relationship, just the making?

 
Studio Notes: Day 5
 

I touch up “Miami Beach”—I guess that’s the painting’s name. I think about other people quite a lot while filling in colors, and feel perturbed.

I try to remember: the painting is whatever I want it to be, my joyousness and nothing else!

 
 
“Miami Beach”

“Miami Beach”

 
 

I cover over the goth/hipster teenager portrait with some new cartoon style characters painted Cubist-wise. This painting looks more like the George Condo painting from the Met which I sought to emulate in Miami Beach.

 
 

I have quietly but consistently disqualified my painting techniques when they’re derived from another painter’s work. The reality is that the paintings with these appropriated techniques are still mine.

 
Studio Notes: Day 4
 

I come in to the studio early morning. The walk here from the Upper East Side was magic. There are several housing projects I pass by on my way; their expansive grass lawns have so much exotic, weedy growth. Worlds within worlds.

I have a puzzle to solve today: how to color the 3 figures in my Miami Beach panorama. I think of George Condo’s painting at the Met (“Rush Hour”): Cubist, a lot of white with flashes of pastel

 
 

I attack the painting with wet, sploshes of color, trying to keep palette muted and pastel. It is turning out more coloring-book, naïve and less dynamic or Cubist. It is, however, DIFFERENT.

 
 

Still trying to think less and avoid thoughts from outside sources—in other words, verbal thoughts. Rather, I want to go based on feel. Even if I work with phrases or concepts, “Cubist”, “Naïve”, “muted” etc., I carry them through feeling rather than practical thought.

 
Studio Notes: Day 3
 
  • Painting with less thoughts; purging judgements, tastes, plans and concepts

  • Painting with impressions—just impressions

  • Painting as pure aesthetic: impression, phenomena, sub-phenomena, sub-thinking

Today I draw a face—a man’s face with feathers and plants coming from the mouth. It looks like a Renaissance sculpture.

Eventually this face looks more like a Byzantine Madonna icon, the yellow ocre background resembling gold leaf. It grows to my distaste, wavering between a goth/hipster teenager. I leave it alone, facing the wall.

 
 
“Goth” Teen Painting, which I dislike…

“Goth” Teen Painting, which I dislike…

 
 

I decide larger-scale work, on canvas, heavily drawn, is calling me. I draw a panoramic “Miami Beach” scene with 3 figures, so far to my satisfaction.

 
 
“Miami Beach” sketch

“Miami Beach” sketch

 
 

I am still happy with my “Woman with Dog” from yesterday.

 
 
“Woman with Dog”

“Woman with Dog”

 
Studio Notes: Day 2
 

Something interesting today. I come to the studio feeling exhilarated. I tack up a piece of unstretched canvas on the wall and start to work with the nonsensical (to me, anyway) phrase in mind, “drawing without seeing”. I paint a woman holding a dog. She has an archaic smile; she is strange and normal all at once.

I can’t read or interpret this painting—can’t tell if it’s a fetish, a catharsis, or if it’s a prophecy.

I take the color palette from a Max Beckmann painting of a woman playing the guitar (“Vaudeville Act” at the Met). I research and learn that Beckmann did not like interpreting his art, at least vocally. He was remembered saying something feisty in reaction to a collector, who was asking for an interpretation of one of the artist’s triptychs he was collecting. His hostile remark went something like, “[the collector] can send back my painting if he wants an interpretation!” I can’t imagine being in a position to say such a thing.

 
 
Notes on a panel and preparatory sketch for “Woman with Dog”

Notes on a panel and preparatory sketch for “Woman with Dog”