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.