Friday, June 26, 2020

abstractions for a new world

                            Untitled [ultramarine] watermedia on paper 22x30 inches, 56x76 cm

                                 Untitled [red] watermedia on Yupo 14x11 inches, 30.5x28 cm

                               Underfoot Study watermedia on Yupo 12x9 inches, 30.5x23 cm

                            Sacrifice in the Morning watermedia on Yupo 26x20 inches, 66x51 cm

                   Untitled [green and orange] watermedia on Yupo 12x12 inches, 30.5x30.5 cm

 It`s slow going but these awkward new paintings have my full attention. I needed a fresh approach to my work in response to the pandemic bomb. The suffering and anxiety in the world has caused a blessed clarity to questions I have wrestled with for years. Matters of career and aging, commitment and legacy. I`m much more clear as to what is most important right now. How or when this work is seen is of little concern. I want to see them. However long it takes to make one. Finally I can live with the uncertainty inherent in painting abstract work. Everything is unsettled. Still plenty of fear but some patience now too. I`ve learned to set them aside when I get stuck. In view but not obsessed over. Eventually a way back in is revealed. Not the solution but crumbs on the trail. Meanwhile I have others in process that I can turn my attention to. For the longest time there has been a sense of urgency in my painting process. Like a race. I hope that is over.

 It takes nearly nine minutes to change  the country.
When an officer of the law stares into a camera as he slowly suffocates an unarmed man to death, the despair of countless generations is grasped in an instant. We heaved with revulsion and recognition. Black lives do not matter and they never have.
 Why now? Why the sudden, visceral understanding of privilege?
Well, the corona virus has stripped away all of our expectations of normalcy and this vulnerability has broke us open.
When the job disappears with its health coverage, schools are closed, businesses shuttered, all sporting and cultural events cancelled, and affection potentially deadly, the calamity alters us. How could it not? Now watch a black man be murdered under someones knee. The center cannot hold. We now possess enough horror to listen. The moral convulsion our country finally experienced is among the most heartening things I`ve ever witnessed. This moment must be acted upon and I believe we will. The misery and insecurity are only deepening. We are in big trouble. 'Normal' won`t work anymore, this global catastrophe will demand a creative and cooperative effort.
 The Republican Party having so recently failed to remove a hateful and destructive president, will be swept into the sea like Pharaoh`s army. Then we can coax and nurture our country back into health. This time with justice.
Ta Nehisi Coates says nothing will change for African Americans unless white people want it. This white guy does, and I`m not alone.

                                            newspaper black out poem by Austin Kleon. 2016

 I`m sure late to the Austin Kleon party! What was I thinking when I set back down his 'How to Steal like an Artist' at the airport? This guy is a juggernaut of inspiration! Just look at his blog, he is so imaginative yet practical.
This parenting manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson was featured in the Spring. I will never be a parent but I sure appreciate the attitude here;

                               Above the Canal watercolor on Yupo 14x11 inches, 35.5x28 cm

 I`ve painted outdoors a couple of times this season. As always it`s the social aspect that I enjoy the most. Even with 6 feet between us. With my focus on abstraction now, I doubt I`ll be as dedicated as previous summers. Being still, outside in the warm air, is so special. Most of the time I`m down in my basement studio and though I love it, it is a hole in the ground. The breeze is up above.

                                   my local family at a socially distanced visit in Camas WA

                                                                  by Jennifer Packer

                                                                  by Jennifer Packer

 I`ve just recently bumped into Jennifer Packer`s work. She`s a painter`s painter in that she revels in the physicality of the paint and makes it speak. I strongly believe if an artist paints representationally, they will excel in proportion to their drawing ability. Jennifer is a master of line. Like I said she`s new to me and I had noted her sensitivity in painting African American men. I only now looked up her bio to provide a link here and I see she is black. I suspect she drew her family growing up.

                                                                    Nina Simone

 Here`s a treat, Nina Simone singing Bob Dylan`s  'Just Like Tom Thumb`s Blues'. The lyrics are classic Dylan, enigmatic and conversational with her voice clear, tender and vulnerable.

                                                               by Dave Eggers

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Libby Fife said...


Numbers 1 and 4 are my favorites. Then you get to "Above The Canal" and you have depicted my favorite things about a creekbed/stream area. Really, your range is pretty awesome.

I am glad for you that the abstractions have taken hold. That they are compelling for you now I think says everything; that and having more patience to wait it out.

Your tone sounds good these days. It's more hopeful than mine, for sure.

Keep chugging along. I hope you are well.

Donna Thibodeau said...

Your abstracts still have that calming quality.. The canal painting is exactly right. I went plein air painting and the quietness of the woods was magical like your painting. At this time I can only do plein air for the social aspect. I seem to be shut down. I'd rather vacuum or garden. Busy, busy. Your last poster said to not talk about the 60's but I saw Nina Simone twice in person. I had never heard the song you shared. Keep doing your beautiful work and writing.

E.M. Corsa said...

You know how much I love your regular work. But Randall, these new paintings are wonderful. I am so drawn to the first and the last one; well, really all of them. Concentrate on these for now; the change will help.

I'm with you; if I like my new work that's all the matters. Funny thing is, others like it anyways!

RH Carpenter said...

I love these abstractions as much as I love your more representational work - mainly because your color palette still sings when I see it. Thanks for sharing some insightful words as well as abstracted beauty and few new people to check up on. Stay safe. I do hope a change is coming and it will come sooner rather than later.

Manisha Vedpathak said...

Dear Randall,
Greetings from India!
I loved your abstracts and I am glad that I stumbled upon your blog. I really loved reading it. Since I have subscribed to the newsletter I look forward to view more paintings and read your inspiring blog. I also invite you to have a peek at my blog,

Manisha Vedpathak