Here's a 2009 show at 57 Underground, a joint show with Mervyn, of whom I've written before, I think. This was one of the two shows where I showed the resuls of blowing up and retracing pencil drawings. The dancer series was the other show, and I'm not sure who else was showing there. Anyway, the covid epidemic put an end to the latest version of 57 Underground gallery, and life drawing sessions at Mike Dommermuth's.
So now was time to take stock of our careers to date, and this blog is one of the ways we take stock. My husband is a working artist also, and built his own studios in downtown Los Angeles from about 1982 through 1995. We were married in 1994, and moved to a home in the suburbs when the second studio's leases were up. Moving took a solid week of rental trucks and helpers, and our possessions, including canvases and art supplies filled a 3 car garage.
Here's another one of those multi layered multiple figure paintings. This one features almost an arm wrestling match between the middle and right. The left figure also looks tweaked and ready to battle.
Also tweaked is this highly stylized verson of the ballet Folklorico dancer. She was available on summer becasue the ballet, stationed in Mexico City, was on haitus. She was living in LA with her boyfriend who also worked for the troupe.
I enjoyed painting her, and experimented with a variety of styles. There are 2 or 3 more paintings of her in this blog already. This is definately the most abstract and most dynamic rendering I made of her. As in a few other pieces, there is a hint of 1920's and 30's art. Especially mural art: something we now call "ArtDeco".
This has got to be a guy. I don't remember the model. It was kind of a hurried job. with the face barely sketched in, and just the beginnings of shading on the figure. We must have gotten there late, again.
Here's another male looking sort of model, though its probably a female. It is a short pose, painted furiously fast after finishing about a one minute pose. I has a kind of dignity and monumetality, whatever the sex of the model was. It's a good piece.
Here's a definately less successful one minute watercolor. Don't quite no why we kept this image in the random mix. I guess it looks modern and provacative in some way. The face is a total disaster and also has male traints.
To complete these coincidental versions of "maleness" in male and female models. This one is definately a male triplet. A very nice arrangement in a woderful color space. It looks like the same person at various stages of life. The youthful one on the right. Again headless, as were some female triplets. I was more interested in the atmosphere of maleness than in his particularity.
Back to this particular female model. There is acutally at least one other version of this same girl. She has a toughness combined with a roundness that is almost baby fat. I ended up focusing both times on these traits. She is young and vibrant and "on the move".
I hope she is making it with that same attitude now.
This is a strange set of the same model. It could be Parker. But whoever it was, I painter her skinny and fatter, cubistic and facing in 4 different directions. It is an intimate conversaton about changing personality, inner refelcted in outer. The realistic figure seems to hold control and be the outer human. The others are her inner reflections.
One last pencil sketch (and some charcoal pencil, also) of human figures cavorting. Among the clouds. Anothe version of this was shown earlier in the blog. In this one, the models almost turn into the clouds.
end of folder30 out of 32. Two more to go.
Here I am with a couple of my pieces at one of the 57 Underground shows. Not sure of which. Probably later than earlier, since I am showing more realistic pieces, not on the colorfield end of the spectrum. I show hope and eagerness here. Just like any model.
IMany times, things I painted into the models were really direct reflections of myself, and what I was feeling. It's hard to seperate the two sometimes, especially when you feel a kinship with how they feel.
This is the monumental Parker. The blue monumental Parker monument. Paying no heed to the green grass and spring in the air behind her, probably because she's been frozen into a monument. I don't know what Parker was feeling, but I was feeling architectural, with a dash of cubist thrown in.
From the monumental directly into Picasso's rose period... This could be an outright copy, with a bit of the exaggeration of the female head, hands and feet from his later periods. But it isn't. I don't know what got over me. It was totally unconcious. We all absorb images the we reincorporate and use as tools in our lives. Because they represent something yet-to-be-articulated in our languages.
And a lot of it has to do with the rational part of us that runs our daily lives: the appointments, the struggle to keep a clean house or apartment. But underneath that runs that incredibly powerful drive to reproduce. That's why people shy away from putting nudes on the walls of their dwellings. Nudes are a special experience reserved for museums, where everyone is in a neutal space, and no one is tempted.
It takes lots of exposure to the human body, like artists recieve, to come to terms with the basic contradictions between social behavior and the underlying thing that keeps us cranking out new generations of human beings. There is a quote that I've forgotten, from a famous thinker whose name escapes me at the moment, but the gist of his/her message was: "the primary sign of inteligence is the ability to fully understand both sides of a paradox, and not be freaked out". Describing humans as both rational and sexual, drives life drawing. It is an exercise in dealing with a common paradox without judgement. A training ground for dealing with ones own intelligence, and not freaking out.
Here's another triplet that mixes poses, but also points of view, and methods of representing the human figure. It starts out on the left with sharp charcoal lines, spare, even unbroken lines of acrylic, then gets denser and denser. Charcoal becomes hidden by drier brush applied colors, the unbrokern lines are broken and fragmented by new color. The background darkens. It becomes colorfield.
There is definately something disembodied about this piece. The model was not blindfolded; that's just the way she came out. The exaggerated length and turn of the neck. The diembodied hand, that looks like a glove laid on her knee. So alien, and alienated. No indication of the surfaces she posed upon. A very strange piece...
Speaking of strange pieces, this is another mysterious exaggerated model view. The head dwindles to almost nothing, atop an exaggeratedly muscular body, with one giant hand. Like a giantess turning back to melt back into the whitish either that she just came from.
A little less exaggerated, but no less strange. Here is a figure whose torso radiates heat, or fire, or glowing coals. The effect stops at her shoulder blades, and her head is in darkness. Its carefully deliniated, but not really present, like the rest of her body. She has a mundane expression, the direction of her stare is hidden. Its almost like: she's on fire, but hiding her thoughts and personality.
The atmosphere in which she exists turns from purple-violet, into blue about halfway up. Other highlights include a neon green, almost as intense as the glowing pieces of her torso.
Another male triplet from the orange period. There are many of these on previous pages. Just a charcoal sketch on a wavering orange background. I was looking into ways to use charcoal that were planned, and not just sudden bursts of line and form.
All these paintings share the absolute minimum of modeling in the figures. The center figure is modeled from top to bottom, but the other two are only moded at the biceps and lower arm. Again, it was me figuring out the male psyche, via the male physique. It is a very tentative piece, as if I really couldn't figure that out at all, and so stopped.
OK, it's the end of folder 31 of randomly chosen images of my work. The last folder: 32 of 32 is next. Any pages added to this blog after that, should be new work, unless we discover that I have pieces not photgraphed somewhere in the past.
Here we are on one of our desert painting trips. Living close to L.A. or in Los Angeles, offers scenery like this to a painter as a day trip. This kind of peace and stillness is one reason for the region's optimism and innovation in the arts (Hollywood, media, aanimation, advertising). Its a good place to settle for anyone from anywhere at any time in their lives (Einstein, Aldous Huxley...). Maybe I'm biased. My family came here from Taiwan, by way of the Phillipeans. I am intirely comfortable here, It's just that I cannot articulate what I want in English, even after 40 years. So my husband writes for me. Most of this blog are his words with my artwork images.
This was a study from "I don't know when", probably of some leaves. Again, for my purposes, the form is enough. It has a rhythm., You sense movement and solidity and the order of nature.
Still nature, but in an entirely new presentation. A little of the detail bursting out of the ground (at least the potted ground) around me. You can see the same sort of forms as in the drawing above this one, , but now they're just silhouettes in the background. What is the same, is that the same spirit is drawing them. Me. Unmistakable. Unique. In any of my moods, and modes.
Still nature, the human form. Charcoal. Model. An object to compose, decide about form, decide about technique, and then draw. Just like a potted flower in many ways. Something, an artifact, that the viewer must deal with: their own predispositions coming into play.
Something always in the corner of the eye. Something around the house. A bit of a spirit, complete in it's frame and in itself.
Perception of a artpiece is like badmitton. The artist serves, the birdy flies into the viewer's side of the court. The viewers view, change moods, decide what they like or not. But that doesn't affect the spirit within the frame.
The thing about the spirit in the frame, is that it may be authored by more than one artist. Reflections and bits of spirit caught by the present artist using techniqes taught by teachers, who borrowed them from other artists. How to create moods in the viewers. Milleniums of "survival of the fittest" or luckiest, passed down in museums, or books, or images on websites like this one.
The "fitest" in this case, means the pieces that survive a great weeding out. From the people that loved them long enough, and passed them on to their generational successors. Unknowing forces. Lawyers, estates, auctions. Advice. Someone at the right moment to explain.
Spirit. Artists passing it on.
The way they pass it on is to concentrate intensely for a time: short or long, depending on the work. But the intensity of the concentration leaves a residue, the art piece. The artist leaves it out there. It has a name that makes us think of things dug up, but it applies to anything left for anyone to pick up and examine: an "artifact".
And the spirit in the frame teaches us about ourselves, or should. It is probably the single most important thing that seperates the art that is recognised from the "chaff" after the artist's generation passes. After the great weeding out. The great war at the cultural levels.
It is hard to know what will survive. Canvases into dumpsters. Reputations made with great efforts and great fanfare become the pointless conversations in yellowed newspapers to the next generation: un read, unremembered, and forgotton entirely.
It makes you want to hug the pieces you did, and be afraid for their fragile lives. Like children's photos you have, and the children are grown up and no one but you and a few others care to see images of them once again.
It's a cruel world. A cruel planet in a crueler cosmos. Everyone rises up, and then dies, as the plants do. You want to leave a little advice for the next crop if you can...
Finished February 10. 2021. Yi-li Chin Ward art pieces. Douglas A. Ward, blogger.