Monday, May 3, 2010


Ruth Fine's article on Richard Diebenkorn ("Reality: digested, transmuted, and twisted", in The Art of Richard Diebenkorn) reassures me that, while I may be groping for answers, my questions are valid. (The image at left is his Ocean Park No. 107 (1978).)

I ground myself and my paintings in the real: the earth, the rock, the sky. At the easel, I abstract what I have seen. Fine writes about Diebenkorn merging his observation of the visible world into the creation of his artistic form. The interaction between observing reality and creating a painting is at the crux of my deliberations at the moment, and it is as though I must choose what my language would be. Diebenkorn went for "geometric structuring and painted light" in both his representational and his abstract work, and these are the two aspects of his work that speak most strongly to me. I share the geometric bent, but I haven't paid much attention to the role of light in abstract work. I use light in my figurative and representational work, but have not found a way to use it in abstraction. I do pay a lot of attention to color, and if Diebenkorn responded to "the interaction of color and light in the visible world" (Fine), perhaps I should hone my observational skills and, while studying forms and translating them onto the support, include the study of light on those forms and their color. But, without actually representing the form itself in a painting, how can I represent the light?

Fine also notes Diebenkorn's "search for structure, space, color relationships, surface tensions, diverse marks, and scale" in the works he created, which provides a checklist for exploration in abstract painting. Similarly, she states that "the real subject for Diebenkorn was always form, light, and structure." It would be good to analyze a landscape -- or anything else I'm observing -- in those terms.

Behind all of this is an almost-decision to let representation go (except for exercises and when inspiration strikes) and become an abstract painter. Do I dare? A topic for later posts.

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