Saturday, June 26, 2010

Evoking Emotions

'Play it Pretty' - acrylic, paper on canvas / 30 x 36 in.

'Dutchess County' - acrylic, paper, fabric on canvas / 24 x 36 in.

'Baby Oh Baby' - acrylic, paper on canvas / 30 x 36 in.

In mystical terms, when you're in a state of grace, all of 'it' happens effortlessly. I keep creating paintings, seeking moments of 'Divine Grace.' One can try to analyze a painting but it's not easy. You don't need to know the 'recipe.' In our contemporary world, we are so removed from our emotions and feelings. If you create a painting, you are supposed to evoke an emotion, a 'rasa.' For instance, Bach knew which tones would evoke certain emotions. I too base my work on specific moods. Most of my work is about exuberance and joy. That's it. Often when I paint, I turn the canvas to lose my sense of up and down. After a time, I became more comfortable with not working with a specific subject or a 'something.' My paintings just developed where each paint-stroke dictates the next. I enjoy to paint loose and free of not having to represent a 'something.' The painting is a representation of my mood. Like a symphony, there are many moods. When I step back and look at the painting, a 'little voice' tells me which color to use next. This is the intuition or sense which guides me - when I am in the 'groove.'

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I'm not concerned with what's in the 'how.' Art must convey an atmosphere. The nine Indian 'rasas' (love, joy, wonder, peace, courage, sadness, anger, fear, disgust) are essential
energies that define a set of emotions. It's important for us to have this in mind when we look at art. If none of these emotions strike you, then all you have left is simply seeing the artist's technique. If admirable technique is not even present in a work, then there is nothing at all. Vincent Van Gogh was not much of a draftsman. But, his emotional intensity over-rode this missing capacity. He was labeled vulgar and crude by the fine art academicians of his day. Artists are either masterful or mediocre. Styles are as infinite as those of personalities, like one's handwriting which is strictly their own.
'Red Sunset' - acrylic, fabric, paper on canvas, 30 x 40 in.

'Fireball for Julio' - acrylic, paper on canvas, 25 x 36 in.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meeting Oskar Kokoschka

'Portrait of Oskar Kokoschka' - crayon on paper, 20 x 16 in.

Meeting Oskar Kokoschka was like being hallucinated: I was mesmerized! When people ask me details about his home and studio in Switzerland where I often visited, I cannot remember many details. I was caught in the eye of the tornado of this great man, like Dorothy caught in the storm in the 'Wizard of Oz'. There was a lot of laughter - he was easy to laugh with. He was also charming to the females, yet very masculine. He could be 'Peck's bad boy' as well. He had a child-like quality about him and at the same time, he was a sage - even with all the difficulties he had experienced. I spent more than 20 years under his tutelage. He cared for me, which is all I can assume since he allowed me such access to his life for so long. He rarely allowed me in to his studio. Once, he allowed me to view his commissioned painting of 'Manhattan' the day he finished it - it was magnificent. He then wrote a personal message to me on the inside cover of his Marlborough exhibition catalogue: 'Do never forget your Oskar Kokoschka.' One can try to analyze a painting, but it's not easy. Kokoschka critiqued a lot of my artwork and I received very few compliments. However, it wasn't a constant 'criticizing'. He often told stories to demonstrate or help me. It was in these analogies and stories that I reflected upon ... and learned.

'View of Duluth' oil on canvas, 40 x 44 in.

'Salzburg, Austria' oil on canvas, 36 x 40 in.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Four Elements

'Water' mixed media on canvas - 72 x 60 in.

'Fire' mixed media on canvas - 72 x 60 in.

'Earth' mixed media on canvas - 72 x 60 in.

'Air' mixed media on canvas - 72 x 60 in.

In painting as in cooking, every painting or dish contains the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. For example, in a souffle most people would consider it composed of 'air' and 'liquid' yet it also has an element of the earth: its thin top crust. Otherwise, it would just be a bland pudding. In a painting, there are rhythms and tones: these are the dynamics. What does this mean? DRAMA. It's all about juxtaposing these four elements and then orchestrating these aspects into relationships that are either dramatic or dull.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Been So Long, acrylic, paper, fabric on canvas 36 x 48 in. (2010)

Thank You, Baby - 36 x 48 in. acrylic, paper on canvas (2010)

Meteors, 48 x 60 in. acrylic, paper on canvas (2010)

Leonard Bernstein once stated that a-tonal music is irritating. I understand if an artist wants to explore - like putting unexpected herbs with a fish. But, if it doesn't work, it doesn't work! You are what you eat and what you take in, whether it be sounds, sights or smells. This then molds you. Art has to go deep. I often wonder when people are exposed to great art, does it make a difference or impact them? Like a medicine, if it has no effect, what is the point? Art is representative of the spirit. As my beloved mentor Oskar Kokoschka once said, "Man is not born human, he has to become humanized." In the world of art, I believe I can be of service. As Kokoschka said, "You need the experience." In other words, you need to cross over. What am I expressing in my art? What experience do I want to convey to the viewer? Essentially, I am just wanting to share my enthusiasm and exuberance about being alive!