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Thursday, April 2, 2015


the new project

A new project completed. A wooden box, fifteen by nine inches, three inches deep. It is for hanging on a wall horizontally. Inside the box is black. The outside of the box is white. It makes a black rectangle framed with a half inch line of white. A string is stretched tight horizontally across the black rectangle half inch above center. I drilled a small hole the same diameter as the string in each side. Then, from the outside, drilled a larger hole on top of the small hole only half way through the wood. Tied a knot in one end of the string, tied  a length of thread to the other tip end of the string, put the thread through the eye of a needle, ran the needle through the hole on the left, then through the hole on the right and pulled the string through by the thread. Impossible to push the string through a hole the same size as the string. It needed an assist. The knot in the string held it in place on the left side. I could not tie a knot on the right side that would fit in the hole snugly enough to hold the string taut. I stuck a thumb tack into the back of the box and wrapped the string around it to hold the string. Dropped some wood glue into the outer hole at each end. By morning the glue was holding the string. I tied a knot in the string, using tweezers and a toothpick, tucked it into the hole, and with pocket knife filled the holes at either end with plastic wood, sanded it later and painted over it. The string shows no sign of how it is held in place at either end. 

african mask I call balance

I wrote here a few weeks ago I wanted my art to be simple as a line of string. Next thought, do something with a line of string. It's been in my head ever since. Now I have a vertical string and a horizontal string. I don't want to get into complex workings with the string. Don't even need to make any more with string. This seems about as simple a statement as I can make with one line of string. I'll not stop looking. Won't worry over it. Will let it come forward of its own will. Already have two more in process, not a string. Both I've been waiting for and the parts came together. Assembling the parts is all that's left to do. The purpose of every project is the word simple. Once a project in my mind's eye takes a turn toward complex, I throw out the idea. This does not apply to construction, the assembly of parts. I don't care how complex putting the parts together may be. The next one has enough complexity in the construction it inhibits me, makes me wait for the day I feel like jumping in and figuring out the details. It has minimal parts. Its visual impact will be powerful and what it has to say is powerful. Fairly complex construction, totally simple result. And I'm scared to dive into it. A lot of measuring is required. And it has to be exact. I'm not good at exact measuring. Like so many steps in constructing a project, everything I do is the first time. Necessary to figure out every detail unto completion. Therein, largely, lies the fun.

car door shadow

Another one I'm imaging on the drive-in theater screen inside my forehead is ready to go, but for the labor. It is all wood to be sanded carefully until it's right, parts fitted together, and two or three coats of tung oil. Much sanding I want to do by hand. Another aspect of the art process I like is so often the first time is the only chance, one time only. I think of it like Zen archery, put out the candle flame with one shot of an arrow. Almost is not close enough. This new one I'm imaging will have two such places that are one-time-only moments. It's right the first time or it's always wrong. No erasing it and trying it again. I recall a time painting portraits of fiddlers, I finished the bow and the bow hair last. Bow hair is a delicate thing to paint. One swipe of the brush from one end to where it touches the string, and one swipe from there to the tip of the bow. On one of Howard Joines I waited two months before I felt it in the day that this is the day to do it. When the time is right and I'm feeling right, the one swipe occurs in a second and comes out just right. It has to be. It is a white line in the foreground and the colors around it largely dark. It also has to be a white that doesn't jump in your face, nor retire to the background. Those moments scare the hell out of me. I believe it works out because I'm imaging it on my drive-in theater screen over and over for as long as it takes until I feel like I understand it. Something like learning the words to a song so well there are no stuttering moments on stage looking for the next word. It has to be flawless as well-practiced.

howard joines

Some years ago I read results of a study, possibly in the science section of Time or Newsweek, that a psychologist had commissioned two guys to throw a basketball at the hoop from the free-throw line. One was to practice thirty minutes a day throwing the ball for a month. The other was to practice by visualizing throwing the ball at the hoop thirty minutes a day. At the end of the month, both showed the same degree of improvement over how they threw the ball before. I recognized at the moment of reading the article that it works. I've taken it for my principle on how to do something like make the swipe for the bow hair in one gesture and it's right. I probably painted the bow hair a few thousand times in my mind's eye. When brush touched canvas, it flowed like a golf swing. The fiddle bows scared me more for each one I approached. The potential for ruining everything his high. And that's the place I like. Some people like to climb the face of a rock cliff with fingertips and toes or ride a kayak over a waterfall. I like to ride the edge of ruining something I've worked on irreversibly. This thrill of adventure is what making art projects satisfies in who I am. There is also the edge between clever and art. I don't see art in the clever. I see clever an element of a work of art, but not the goal that I think of as art, having that certain smile, ce je ne sais quoi. I don't know that I get there every time, but do believe I have touched it a few times. The only reason that motivates this series I'm engaged in is reaching for that I don't know what.

don't worry ~ be happy
meher baba


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