Saturday, July 08, 2006

learning to draw, learning to surf

Surfing a new wave is like using a new medium to make a surface. A wave has a general shape that we recognize as being a wave. A mark is also a generally recognizable entity. Both are evidence of some kind of transmission of energy. But, each individual wave is different. Every mark is different. Every mark-making tool is different. The subtle differences have the ability to make well-trained surfers draw pedestrian, unskilled lines, until they commit the necessary time to learn each unique tool.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I have doubts in statements becaus they seem so final. Art is not final. It is an on-going process.

I am using waves as a medium through wich I explore the experiences of my life, particularly instances fo the sublime.

A wave is the transmission of energy; an idea, a movement, light. The sublime is an experiences that cannot be effectively explained. It is a moment and a feeling, and it becomes that which we all chase, through numerous avenues; religion, work, play, meditation, distruction and creation. The sublime needs a medium through which it can be expressed. A wave also demands expression through a medium. Both, by themselves, are otherwise unexpressable. They are a moment before that which is about to happen.

The work is a journal, a record of my exploration. Through intense focus on one specific subject, I discover more facets of the subject, more ways in which a wave will manifest, and more mediums through which to express them. As I grow, so does my language. As I answer questions, more questions arise from the answers. And, just like trying to re-experience a sublime moment, every time I attempt to represent the same wave, it is different. The only way to recreate the experience is to fully explore it and let the new questions lead me to new contexts. I've explored waves through drawing, painting, print-making, photograpy, video, as well as thousands of hours spent surfinf in specialized kayaks, and even some beginning steps at board surfing.

This is not a performance. It is an exploration. It is life.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Postmodern thoughts

“The postmodern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he writes or the work he creates is not in principle governed by preestablished rules and cannot be judged according to a determinant judgment, by the application of given categories to this text or work.” (Jean-Francois Lyotard “the Post Modern Explained”)

Without preestablished rules, many are left to anarchy and destruction; often in the art world it manifests as a psydo-deconstructionism in which an artist sees no rules, does not want rules, and is so afraid of rules that the only rule becomes disorder.

What the freedom from preestablished rules grants me is the ability to explore specific parts of my own life through THEMES of expression (as opposed to rules). Individual images have strong compositional balance because of my exceptionally modernist personal aesthetic while the larger body of work holds together as a multi-layered theme of self-exploration.

Waves are an obvious theme. What is less obvious, and somehow more important, is the repetitive nature of waves; the rhythm that they create through similar (yet different) shape. Even further, waves are a type of movement through a medium. The wave is not a solid “thing”, but a movement, an expression of energy that affects the medium, just as the intent and work of an artist affects the medium with which he works.

The curious exploration of a subject IS partially deconstructive. My goal is not deconstruction for the sake of itself, but as a means to understand something on a deeper level. My etching needle scratches ground away from the plate, and acid removes more material. The process is repeated as I figure out which areas to explore further. Pulling prints is a repetitive process, yet every single application of the ink and run through the press is a little bit different. They have the same overall structure and process, but small imperfections make each one unique.

There is a deconstructive bend to additive processes as well. The first step is the analysis of the subject; the breaking up into component parts as a way to see the wave’s construction. As paint is applied, earlier layers are obscured or destroyed, leaving a history of the process.

A far less obvious theme is the repetition of both exploring difficult tasks and returning to those that I enjoy. Each painting is both a difficult task as well as something that I enjoy. Surfing a wave has varying degrees of difficulty, and it is an exceptionally enjoyable task.

This past winter I had an injury that would not allow me to ride waves for 138 days. I also could not draw or paint for a couple of weeks. It made me realize just how much of my life had revolved around both art and water, and how many sacrifices I have made to pursue these things. The things that I have given up, so that I could pursue art and water, were difficult to surrender. But, the surrender was also part of the pleasure because it leads to that which I wanted most. I expressed this driving desire to get back to my life of art and water by setting out to draw 100 Waves. My recovery time lasted for 138 days, so I kept drawing to reach that number.

Some argue that I have created my own rules. But, I refuse to throw out those rules just for the sake of some theory of postmodernism. The rules were made by living my life as I explore instances of the sublime. My life is the one rule that I can accept, as I allow myself to determine, through experimentation, which wave (or rule) I am going to ride next.

why kitch is easy

"When art makes itself kitch, it panders to the disorder that reigns in the 'taste' of the pateron. Together, artist, gallery owner, critic, and public indulge one another in the Anything Goes-it's time to relax. But this realism of Anythinggoes is the realism of money.................. as for taste, there is no need to be choosy when you are speculationg or amusing yourself."

-Jean-Francois Lyotard in "The Post Modern Explained"