Things I've thought about. These are mostly thoughts about art, or painting, or just a running commentary on ideas that run through my mind, or other people's thoughts that catch my attention. These are not necessarily earth shattering, but I'm going to write them somewhere, so it might as well be here.
Painters and Poets
Loveland poet Veronica Patterson is one of Colorado’s treasures. Winner of the New York University Press prize for poetry, she is widely published in magazines and the author of two books of poetry. “Ronnie” and I have known each other for more years than either would like to admit. Last year at a wedding party, I mentioned that I had been re-reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and had some quotes to share. I sent her a copy, and in return she sent the following Frank O’Hara poem.
Why I Am Not A Painter
I am not a Painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a Painter, but I am not. Well,
for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I
“Sit down and have a drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
by. I drop in. The painting is
“Where’s the SARDINES?”
that’s left is just letters,
“It was too much,” Mike says.
me? One day I am thinking of
color: orange. I write a line
orange. Pretty soon it is a
page of words, not lines.
another page. There should be
much more, not of orange, of
of how terrible orange is
life. Days go by. It is even in
I am a real poet. My poem
finished and I haven’t mentioned
yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s Painting, called SARDINES.
~ Frank O’Hara
Fishing with Tom Travis in Livingston, MT last week, we discussed the levels in the development of fly-fishers. Tom said that in the beginning the mechanics are all important...knot tying, casting, fly selection, etc. The next step up the ladder will be the techniques that can only be addressed when the mechanics are becoming second nature. Reading the stream, reading the hatch, presentation of the fly, when to use the different casts of the fly-line. Finally, a few fly-fishers arrive at the art of fly-fishing. The intuitive use of their knowledge and the willingness to experiment with the unknown that put these people in a place of their own. It is not shared by others and is only understood by a very few that are not at their level. While we talked, my mind traveled among the painters and the artists that I know; and I fought my urge to categorize them.
Last Christmas, Rodnie gave me two books on the subject of quantum physics. It so happened that while I was reading these, plus a sort of "quantum physics for dummies" book I picked up at Barnes & Noble, that I went to LA to see the Van Gogh exhibit, "Van Gogh's Van Goghs". It occurred to me that at that time in art and science, Van Gogh could have been aware of some of the early French thoughts on quantum physics. The fact that he was aware of the thinking of the Impressionists is well documented. His own impressionist paintings from his Paris days indicate an understanding, if not a total technical grasp, of the impressionist's methods.
The impressionists, and almost all painters since, have spent some of their time studying the effects of light on color. The true colorist is enamored with the appearance of color, not local color, but the way light and surrounding objects change the appearance of color. So they paint green in the red apple and purple in the warm shadow of the blond model... it is what they see.
Vincent was well aware of color and the effect of light. His later paintings didn't indicate that he was hung up on these phenomena. In fact, it seems to me that he had decided to make another step, a step that was beyond the concerns of the impressionists. He may have gone looking for the fourth dimension... time!
It is interesting that painting has two dimensions and is always attempting the third in some way or another. Sculpture has three dimensions and successful sculptures often indicate an attempt at the fourth dimension. What if Vincent was not trying to capture the effect of the light, but was trying to capture light itself... Time! Look at some of the better-known, later pieces and draw your own conclusions.
Richard Diebenkorn moved between representational and, some continue to argue, non-representational forms. I think this is a tough argument to make but that's not my purpose. Diebenkorn used a reducing lens in his studio. A reducing lens performs the same function as stepping back from the painting, perhaps better. It reduces the size of the image, making the entire painting easier to see. This really works well on large paintings and sculptures. It is also very handy when visiting museums.
Well, after asking all around, I was finally able to locate the reducing lens through a stroke of dumb luck. The lens looks like a magnifying glass but obviously works differently. The cost is about $25.00.
Where to get them:
5291 NW 161st Street
Hialeah, FL 33014-6221
305-621-2315 or 800-330-8355
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