I love drawing patterns on cloth

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when they recede in depth or when they follow folds in drapery.

I love the picture within a picture, putting something in the still life that has a picture on it, and making this other picture another space in the illusory painted space.

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Another thing I love are the confusing bits of chaos that you see when you look at something through glass.  I like to put bottles in the still life to draw the things seen distorted by the glass, love to draw the fruit in the blue compotier to see the blue alter the colors of the things.

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Also the pattern on a cloth that sits flat on the table top between two objects, to contemplate that space as a special landscape of imagination —

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— the way that pattern looks abstract because it’s partly covered up and is seen from an oblique angle so that’s it’s made twice unfamiliar.  All those kinds of things are fascinating, are wonderful beyond compare.

Sometimes I like the interstices better than the objects. The “negative space” sometimes gets you closer to the perception because when you draw it you are no longer naming the things, but are instead drawing the spaces between the things, seeking to draw parts of the entire veil of light hanging in front of your eyes — seeing it as a veil.

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To dematerialize the objects is part of the goal. A few times (admittedly rarely) I heard painting criticized because it is “flat.”  Also because it’s static (as opposed to a movie). Painting isn’t modern, the critic said, because it’s flat and still. But I love painting precisely because it’s flat and immobile so the mind can enter it and move freely.

The pretended space is wondrous. I like to draw the rim to rim on anything that has a void in its parts, like the opening of a shoe, the interior of a cup.

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I want to create the illusion of the thing on the canvas and the artifice of that delights me. But I also am glad that it is flat because in being flat it has design.  Things are not just things but can connect to each other because some linear relationship that exists only in the mind and on the page begins to pull the things together into a motif.

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“Motif” is a pictorial thing, a picturesque thing, it’s a scenic idea.  Out in the world is raw reality (in whatever form it actually is).  In the mind, on the contrary, are things with names to which meanings attach.  I want to fix the meaning into a shape.

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In the picture, are lines, colors and shapes that can delight the eyes and sometimes puzzle the brain and which pull and tug and affect the emotions in sometimes strange ways.

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4 thoughts on “Stuff I love

  1. You do like challenging things! I can’t even think about drawing fabrics with patterns or designs. It’s way too far beyond my ability. I’m getting better, though, at the practice of dematerializing objects, learning to see in terms of shapes instead of things. I think figure drawing and anatomy have been helpful for me in that respect. I love your old shoes. They remind me of the old shoes Van Gogh painted…which, in turn, always reminded me of my grandfather’s old shoes.

  2. Judith, thank you! You know Van Gogh’s shoes — that’s what inspired these shoes, which belonged to my father. My father was still living when I painted the shoes; they have even more meaning for me now. They were well worn and seemed to reflect the rough and ready life my father lived.

    I do like challenging things. But it’s something about the patterns themselves — they just pull me in. I wouldn’t be too sure about your ability since we never really know what our abilities are. Don’t be scared off by a pattern. Look at Matisse who drew wonderfully crazy patterns that sometimes take over the whole picture. The idea that the pattern is hard is partly a scary illusion. The pattern doesn’t have to be perfect. These ones I drew are full of mistakes compared to the reality, and I am always trying to get closer to the reality (it’s true) not because it necessarily matters, it’s just interesting to strive this way. Some people play video games and want to get a high score, maybe even want an unrealizable perfect score, but whether they get the score or not, the game itself is mesmerizing.

    You drew the bird and you can draw a pattern too. There’s no essential difference. They are both lines and colors on a page. Thank you for your kind words!

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