Sunday, March 17, 2013

Drawing for "The Wedding Party"

This plan for a large scale painting took two months to make.  It is twice the size of any painting I've ever completed, 40"x30".  The planning for the painting I'm co-currently in the middle of, "Tea Time"  took two and a half weeks to plan and draw - so going for something much more ambitious at times scared me and felt to indeed sap me of all my strength.  But its done now, and a light pencil tracing has been transferred to canvas.  The transfer of the drawing took about 12 hours.  Click on any of the images to see them enlarged.

Here are some pictures reading the drawing clockwise.  First we have the bride and the groom.  The groom is holding onto the leash of two dogs, who are doing the very animalistic act which is planned for the couple's wedding night.  The groom is smirking in anticipation.  Behind the image is a repeating pattern.  This pattern repeats in stripes throughout the entire painting, it is the flat painting's background.  Pattern as background chosen over 3D perspective.   I've done a small oil paint study of this pattern, a tear drop lobe with two wings on either side.  In the study I was comparing subtle differences between thin and fat swirls.  I'm going to use the top looping, the lesser intrusive and slightly more delicate patterning.  There are three colors repeated in the background; cobalt blue, venitian red, and dark van dyke brown. 

In this finished tour of the drawing plan we see alternately two sainted monkeys having sex, a gay lion and a crocodile having sex, and then some guests at the wedding party; a pair involved in a seduction, a pair resorting to violence.  Sweeping through the center of the drawing is the marriage bouquet, starting in the arms of the bride, then ending in the lower left hand corner with a baby in a blanket.  I guess its pretty much my take on marriage.  The sex seems a bit scary and grim to me, the party guests behave badly, and the only hope is the infant progeny that is the biological fruit of all the messiness that goes on in a marriage.

If you wonder at all the chaos in the drawing, what with the patterned background and the little stories ranging round the center of the bridal bouquet (there are real lilies and roses drawn from flowers bought at the local grocery store, well, I added some boils to the lilies, mixed with imaginary plants and flowers and general shapes of hoopla inspired from real biological forms found in nature), and I have to conclude that all the messiness (tightly planned and controlled chaos) and frenzy and what promises to be sheer riot of color is a result of "horror vaccui", the hallmark of some schizophrenic art.  I believe that  horror vaccui is Latin for "fear of empty space".  I didn't choose horror vaccui to be present in my work, it just seemed a necessity.  I note that the lower my dose of antipsychotic medication the more prominent this phenomena is in my art.  It is pretty much absent on high doses of antipsychotics.  Currently I'm on a drug, but it is at half therapeutic dose.  When I say that I can't help myself and the insistence in my art toward insane pattern and overlap and detail, I mean it, I can't do art any other way.  Its my muse, it calls to me, the higher the energy level the more excited I become internally.  Horror vaccui isn't what I particularly want, but it seems to be what undeniably pleases me the most.

Here's an example of two artists which are used as classical models for the argument that unmedicated schizophrenics tend in their work toward horror vaccui.  Both works of art are museum quality art. I had some problems loading them into the blog.   The second drawing is by Adolf Wolfli who was locked up most of his life in a Swiss insane asylum and died there in 1930.  The first drawing is by a contemporary British artist Nick Blinko, who is only able to draw when he is medication free.

I am rather proud to be a schizophrenic who paints in oil rather than makes finished colored drawings.  My drawings are only a beginning means to an end - I don't consider them works of art inthemselves any more than an architect would prefer his sketches for a building over the built in stone and glass building.  Creativity is fun at times, but in my art there too is much simple labor and hard work that are a necessary and (frustrating, pain-in-my-ass) part of the process.   Oil paint is a long and labor intensive processes the way I do it.  But to my eyes the finished product looks like princess jewelry ripe for a wall of a collector to hang on.  What I hate about drawings is that there must be a piece of glass between the artwork and the viewer, and I think, the glass is a barrier, perhaps only psychological, perhaps not that big of a deal to most, but a barrier never-the-less that oil paintings avoid.

Famously Alfred Hitchcock would claim that all the creativity and fun was in the planning of the shots of his movies.  The actual filming and working with the actors he felt was dull and boring.  I don't hate the realization of the artwork as much as the planning process, but certainly, with the first you get a seat of your pants feel of flying and then a slow down, where  creative decision still must be made, but at a far less frequent rate.

I rather envy the commercially big artists who have a stable of artists to execute their ideas.  All the big artist need to is come up with ideas, and he has talented grunt labor to execute the ideas.  I read in an interview with Jeff Koons that if he were to personally paint one of his paintings it would take him six years for one canvass - but with over a hundred and forty artists in his employ, how much more is he able to produce every year!  Still, the paintings I saw in production for that article looked like glossy indulgent crap. At least my horror vaccui painting will be sincere.  Primitive, mad,  but heartfelt.

I'm hoping that I can finish this painting in four or five month's time.  I have no idea, I've never worked at this scale before.  Probably at some point the painting will hook me and I will start repeating a well worn and favorite prayer; "Dear God, please don't let me die until I've finished this painting."

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