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Wednesday, October 6, 2010


initial sketch

Yesterday I was too weary to write. Been staying up late night after night and even though I take a nap next day, there came a time I had to get to bed at a reasonable time and have a full night of sleep. It made a difference. Monday I made video of going down the mountain on the back side of Waterfall Road where it's still gravel. I actually enjoy watching such a video. Two roads now on YouTube. I checked to see if there are any other road videos at YouTube. As you would expect, there are quite a lot, mostly interstate and a few gravel roads. Was thinking about making one going down the mountain on Air Bellows Gap Road, the gravel part, and decided to wait until the trees are multi-colored. Snow will make good video too.

The Caudill Cemetery is one of the 2 landmarks at Air Bellows. The other is the Crouse Cemetery in Deer Track Subdivision. Across the fence is the Doughton Park Campground on the Parkway. I made a painting of the Caudill Cemetery several years ago, but no one has ever seen it because I don't like how I did the tall autumn grass in it. Got carried away detailing it when it would have been better to suggest the grass than to attempt to articulate it. The darker gray tombstone that says Caudill is Vance Caudill who summered in a little cinder block box with roof, two windows and a door.

I made a pencil drawing years ago of 'Vance Caudill from a polaroid I borrowed from Bernice Holbrook, who I think was his neice. Working on the picture, I didn't have much to go by for his face, it being little more than a quarter inch dot. I had his face well enough, but the nose gave me a fit. I could not find his nose. Whatever I did with the nose was not it. I went and sat on the floor for a half hour in meditation and prayer, asking for some assistance getting his nose. When I got up, went to look at the drawing I saw what to do as if the nose were drawn on transparent paper and laying on top of the nose I had drawn. I saw exactly what to do. It took one tiny line. And that was it.

Working on the painting of Willard Gayheart, I was thinking about painting a paper clip on it so it would give the impression of a square piece of paper with a paper clip on it, the clip being about the length of his head. It would get a tremendous visual tension going. At first glance, Willard looks almost life-sized, then subliminally the paper clip makes the whole thing shrink down to a 2"x2" piece of note paper, then the mind goes back to the large size, then to the small size, and it keeps going like that subconsciously. I'm recalling the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo painted God and Man about to touch fingers. It's way way up there, hundreds of feet. The figures are painted to appear life size as if they were within reach. They eye starts to focus on the figures nearby, then has to refocus to span the distance, which is so far away it seems unimaginable, while at once seeming within reach.

It's the visual tension that gives the feeling of awe, even spirit. But I don't want to paint a big paperclip. And I'm not convinced enough it's such a great idea. A lot of ideas sound great, but end up nothing like the mind saw. Plus, it's out of character with the feeling I'm working with in the portrait. It's a clever trick that calls attention to itself, saying, look how clever the artist is. Clever isn't what I'm after. Clever has a way of nullifying whatever art might be in it. I can't afford too much nullifying. Like I don't want to make the image on the front of Willard's ball cap too clear, because that's not where I want the eye's attention to go. I want the eye to see Willard, not the details of his cap. Willard has drawn pictures of about every musician in SW Virginia, and nobody has ever drawn or painted him. That is changing.

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