Daubs , dabs and drips, jabs and jibes, strokes and smears and scumbles at and about art and artiness from cave to cathedral, from chakra to Chartres, from Pre-Raphaelite to post-modernist, from surrealistic to realistic, classic to transgressive, from Madonna to MoMA to Michelangelo to Manet to Grandma Moses, from spirituality to kitsch.

 

Updated, Sunday, March 19, 2017

 

• As I see it, the artist's literal eye predominates over, but is abetted by, his tethered Inner Eye, and the viewer's Inner Eye predominates over her literal eye.  That is to say, it's in the eye of the beholder.

• Old artists never die, they just scumble away.

• My life in art began before I can remember.  At 87, it's ending as I begin to forget.

• I carried on with 2 careers simultaneously, art, to which I was married, and medicine, my after hours mistress.  Of the many that I can think of, that's the most apt analogy, although in real life it doesn't work out too well.  But as an SDA, I am embarrassed that that's the trope I find myself using.  Well, go read Hosea.

• I pursued medicine conscientiously.  Art, subconsciously.

• Once upon a time paintings were manifestations of talent; not long ago, creativity; now, depravity and shock.  If you try to go where no man has gone before, that's where you'll wind up.  And then what?

• I like that, I'll expand.  Once upon a time, a happier time, you beheld paintings to discover, as the artist intended, beauty and painterly talent.  Not long ago, only creativity, and because it was the latest thing.  Now, you turn and flee from the depravity and horror (as the er, artist intended).

• Sunday, February 21, 2016:  I've never painted a picture specifically because I need to fill a certain spot on a wall and a painting would be nice.   But by the same token, once the painting has been painted, how, or where, it fits on the wall in balance with the window and the door and the rosewood credenza  -- the whole complex becomes a composition containing compositions, each in balance internally and totally -- is a necessary, sometimes crucial, consideration.  If you get the overall balance wrong, somehow the painting isn't as successful either. I don't recall hearing interior decorators belabor such details, but most aren't artists, or layout graphic artists, either.

• At the keyboard, also the drafting table designing a house, surrealism, modernist syntax is my style.  At the easel, on the walls, parish the thought!  It's realism all the way.  Artistically, I'm a schizo.

• To eBay or Sotheby, that is the question. I've had stuff wind up on eBay, never Sotheby

• “Art for art’s sake” (“Art is the greatest thing in life,” “Art is humanity’s redemption,” and so forth and so on and on) turns out to be one of those postmodern “truths” – fine as whimsy but flimsy for real life.  And hardly fade-proof.

• The logo of Impressionism is the dab, Monet’s trademark.  I didn’t say “daub.”  In good dictionaries, Dab and daub are not the same.  Both being a sort of jabbing action, a “dab” is done carefully, fastidiously, to achieve a specific effect, while a “daub” is careless, thoughtless, messy.  Experts are careful with the words; bloggers aren’t.

• While all the beloved old art magazines (like American Artist; I had a subscription to it for 50 years) are going belly up, new ones are coming into the picture, obtainable through Zinio Digital Magazines, not Watson Guptill.  The most promising so far is Chakra, Canvas, & Cannabis.

• You would think that painting, of all things, requires The Dream.  Far from it.  It requires as much hard-headed planning as a retirement plan.  Unless, of course, you are a Modernist painter.

• Did Jackson Pollack use a mahl stick?  (That's an inside joke for artists.)

• If a painter uses a mahl stick, is a baton a Mahler stick?

• Syllogistically, if reality is truth and truth is reality, and truth is beauty and beauty is truth (Keats, I think), then reality is beauty.  To Modernist painters, truth, which such painters so tout, is anything but reality and certainly isn't beauty.

• I suppose my oil portrait style is somewhere between kitsch and where no man has been before.

• Classic, realistic, traditional painting is maybe 1% inspiration, 40% perspiration (some days, 100% tears), 59% serendipity.  That's the established formula.  The formula for Modernist painting is altogether different: 1% inspiration, 100% spirituality, 100% spirits and pot, 50% rehab units, 110% government funded.

• Commissioned to do an enormous commemorative painting of four famous Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professors of the 19th century, John Singer Sargent couldn’t think of what to put in the background.  Suddenly he thought of it -- an enormous world globe.  So he found one, 5 or 6 feet in diameter, but it wouldn’t fit through his studio door, so he had the wall and door knocked down.  Shame he couldn’t have smartphone-imaged it and Photoshopped it through the door.

• At first I was excited by Modern Art which offered new promising and liberating principles of art like simplicity, new concepts of balance, freedom from unrelenting symmetry and standard color combinations.  But it turns out that that was just a come-on.  What Modern Art really wants to liberate me from is everything, everything -- every established law, moral or civil, not just artistic principles; all morality, capitalism, private property, work, the whole idea of truth, the oppression of the literal eye.  Hey, wait!

• If you want to appreciate art the last thing in the world to do is take an art appreciation course, where the meanings, origins, and context of the creation of various kinds of art are explained in about the same way Evolutionists explain the meaning and origin of life.

• I used to like certain modern art, especially modern architecture, because it seemed to be based on new artistic principles like simplicity and asymmetrical balance.  But then I learned that art principles had little to do with it --  under the glazes it’s all simply protest against all authority and all laws, laws of religion, nature, even old and proven laws of art.  Modern art turns out to be the chosen medium of expression of socialism and anarchy, revolution, worse, much worse.  It’s enough to close an open mind -- bang!

• Modernist artists insist they paint only the utter truth, utterly objectively. utterly distilled, inconvenient, damn the pigs and prigs and consequences.  Truth!  TRUUUTH Then they insist they paint only by the Inner Eye.

• Sides of houses aslant and askew; the human face as purple blobs haloed in carbon black; capitalists as slobbering pigs; the Virgin Mary as urine?  Hard to say whether Modern art is more hellbent on whimsy or shock, or is just plain hellbent for the hell of it.

• I’m so old I remember when beauty was truth, truth beauty. But now Postmodernism says there is no such thing as truth anyway so how can there be beauty?   So now what we get in art galleries is whimsy-shock ugliness, and that’s the truth.

• Sargent and a thousand other Americans went to Paris in the 19th century to learn their art directly from the masters.  But Richard Schmid went to the Famous Artists Course.  Mail order seemed to work as well for him as Carolus Duran did for Sargent.

• Here's one of those oracular quotes of Picasso:  “’Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.’  So 3 eyes on the same side of a square face are necessary? Evolution doesn't seem to think so.

• It takes the Inner Eye to put 3 external eyes on the same side of the face? Picasso's Inner Eye had a sad case of diplopia.

• If the Inner Eye develops astigmatism, so much the better. Tunnel vision -- out of business.

• If a realist painter's Literal Eye develops macular degeneration, which takes out central, focused vision but spares the foggy peripheral vision, he's out of business.  If her Inner Eye does, she'd hardly notice the difference.

• April 2014.  Ex-president Bush, in his retirement, has taken up portrait painting, to kudos and contempt, and threats of copyright infringement suits.  Seems his models were images snatched from Google searches, some copyrighted.  That's another untoward consequence of painting from photographs, critics tisk-tisking your dearth of creativity, as if copying off photos isn't standard procedure nowadays.

• If I were moved to sue an Modernist artist for copying off a Google image it wouldn't be for copyright infringement but for perverting and distorting the original, while a creative-property lawyer would sue for not perverting and distorting.

• When ex-president Obama takes up portrait painting he can paint from selfies, to critical acclaim and a Nobel Art Prize.

• Of all essays, even essays on philosophy and politics and, art essays, such as mine, are the most subjective and gaseous emanations of which mankind is capable -- short of hermeneutics which takes the cake, but that's another essay.  Anyway, I am not much interested in anybody else's art opinions (not at all interested in his hermeneutics), especially since de rigueur standard art opinions are mindless likes of modern and, worse, modernist art, except for Updike's book of art essays, Just Looking, but not for his modernly inclined opinions, just for the pun, a masterpiece by all laboratory parameters.

• Realist art may be subject to fashion.  But Modernist art is subsumed by ideology.

• Art Happenings happen.  Hapless art historians may scratch their heads and wonder why Happenings happened.

• The right kind of impressionist art may withhold detail and gently hint at reality, thus serving it, but Modernist Art blatantly distorts and perverts reality, in detail, laughing it off, laughing it to scorn.

• In exposing and defending the "true the human condition” through  blackening, perverting, distorting it, Modernist Art betrays it.

• After Modernist Art is done defending the "human condition," it's not worth defending.

• People are always asking me if I'm self taught.  Yes, I studied with someone -- me. Toughest teacher you could imagine.  Also Sargent, virtually -- in reality at the Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis Art Museums.  Seriously, though, I did take a couple of courses, night school courses, at the old Otis Art Institute in L.A., on nights off, while interning.

• A friend recently gave me a copy of Medicine's Michelangelo, the story of Frank Netter, MD, history's most famous medical illustrator, always one of my heroes.  Turns out his story and mine are similar, up to a point, we both being MDs and artists.  That he was famous, very wealthy, and multi-talented, is where we differ. But we were both programmed from infancy, largely thanks to our mothers, for medicine, and and did fairly well at it academically if not practice, (Netter abandoned clinical medicine early on but I stuck it out until retirement), while being even more talented in art.   Both of us incessantly sketched in medical school.  But while Netter was sketching anatomy, I was sketching classmates, professors, patients.  Only once as a med student did I sketch a specimen.  The cadaver, being an malnourished vagrant, was flabby, his muscles merely thin strips that were almost lost in the scant gray muck, neither artistically appealing nor anatomically informative, hardly the Netter, even less the Michelangelo, musculature.  Nobody asked for copies.  I set them aside and resorted again to Gray's.

 

 

 

 

 

• Artists claim to be the most independent, free thinking humans of the race, going where no man has gone before – yet they of all people are the most conformist to every Marxist, eco, and toxo talking point, going where robo traffic is gridlocked.

• Friday, October 29, 2010.  Realistic painters have always been instructed to squint at what they are painting.  That’s what I remember hearing from the beginning.  Is that to decrease the input from the real eye and increase it from the Inner?  Not really, I don’t think, but to better serve the real eye by simplifying the picture.  The complexity of real nature exceeds what the human mind, even the Inner Eye, and mere paint, can cope with.  In any case, as soon as you’ve squinted you’d better open your eyes again, wider than before.

• So who is more disconnected from the world – the true artist and his sober real eye, or the Modernist artist and his celebrated, almost mandatorily drugged Inner Eye?  From my expert perspective, I’d have to say it’s a tossup.  In being not of the main stream, we are all brothers ... and thus must kill each other.

• My impression of the prototypal, archetypal 19th century Impressionists is that they invented their new techniques to better recapitulate reality, not hallucination.  So I don't see them as Modernists. Modern, yes; ModernIST, no.  I give Monet a waiver.

• Most fine (realistic) painters I know, or know about, are happily impressed with the founding Impressionists, because their dabs weren't ends in themselves but new, and better, tools to serve reality.  And they do!  Manet was not the first Modernist in my book of 1-liners, but the most modern of the classicists.  We're grateful to him.

• Quite objectively, which the Literal Eye is better at than the Inner Eye, I think 19th century Impressionism, dabs and all, because of their dabs, was especially effective for landscapes.  As I see it Sisley and sometimes Cezanne did indeed achieve landscapes that are more convincing and exciting and real than even Rembrandt could.  As to portraits, close but no banana.  Rembrandt still rules.

• Monet's dabs work for reality only when you stand more than 10 feet away.  Eyeball to canvas, all you see is dabs, real dabs, not the cathedral in twilight.  No matter how far you stand back from a Picasso those three eyes are still on the same side of the head.

• Picasso gets the award for Most Expensive Three Eyes on The Same Side of The Face.  Each comes to about $12,030,000.

• My definition of a Modernist, whether of art of politics, the difference gets pretty blurred, is someone whose Literal Eye has gone blind.  Blind leaders of the blind, going where no seeing man has gone before -- into the ditch, on a high.

• Modernist painters think they go where no man has gone before.  Wrong.  No man has never not had a nightmare, or never not been to the urinal, sometimes 5X a night.

• I've been reading Updike’s Just Looking and Always Looking, mostly an apologetic of modern art, rather like CS Lewis’s Christian apologetics.  Even Updike can’t prod my inner eye to appreciate Modernism's Inner Eye.

• Photography and Modernist art came into the picture about the same time.  Modernist art was a rebellion against everything, even photography?

• A beautiful nude wants you to be looking at her with your literal eye.  A transgender requires that you gaze only with your Inner Eye.

• OK, a not-so-beautiful nude requires the viewer to exercise the Inner Eye, the Literal Eye is best clamped shut.  When looking at a nude, choose your eye, Inner or Outer, to suit.  Actually your brain will do that automatically.  But wait!  The brain is guilty of discrimination, and liable to court action, automatically.

• Sometimes I really have to strain and push hard to get a painting to happen.  Getting it onto canvas is agony.  I’d feel better about it if I knew it didn’t come any easier for Modernist Crap Artists.

• Modern architecture's motto: If it ain't baroque, don't fix it.

• For every painter who died from lead poisoning from his lead white paint, or any of the toxins in paint or turpentine that so terrify my painter friends, a hundred have died from alcoholic cirrhosis, drug overdose, malnutrition, AIDS, suicide, old age.  Old age is especially harmful to artists.

• As in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), between whom, in Hades, there is an unbridgeable chasm, there is an unbridgeable chasm between the artist who painted the picture and everybody seeing it.  To the artist it is a composition. Everyone else sees allegory, meaning, a story or a message, to be decoded and awarded.  Please, look at the composition.  The rest just happened, to serve the composition, not psychiatry, sociology, or politics.

• As a painter committed and devoted to realism, I do indeed see with the Inner Eye of my soul as well as the Outer Eye – I see composition.  But viewers seem only able to see with their inner eye what I’ve seen with my outer eye, and they see only message, meaning.  What a waste of outer eye, mine and theirs.

• For centuries, for most of the history of Western painting, painters were required to paint only by the doctrinally approved religious or classical eye, not their own.  Then with the renaissance and enlightenment, painters used their real eyes, and revolutionized painting.  Now, alas, Modernists are again required to paint with only their doctrinaire spiritual inner eye.  The Dark Ages have returned, without the halos.

• Is it still true that true art ceases to be art when it’s just formula?  Apparently not, if the formula is “Splat! Dribble! Protest! Shock! Transgress!  Pervert!  Excreta!”  Darnit! Just when art was set to go where no formula had gone before.

April 2014.  Creativity is a word that nowadays does not just explain but  justifies anything from debauchery to abstract art to far-fetched repainting of history, especially in historical movies, climaxing in Biblical movies, most recently “Noah.”  Not even close, never meant to be.

• If it's corruption, call it art and creative and it's and OK.  If it's conservative it's hateful and not OK, end of discussion.

• Most professional artists learn to paint with oils in their youth.  I didn't, because I didn't have time, being a doctor.  So I did watercolors instead.  In 45 minutes a watercolor is either done or a mess.  So watercolors invite devil-may-care slap-dash, which is what youth is for.  Only at retirement did I have time for oil painting.  But in old age most people are afraid of oils, and settle for watercolors, the picky-picky kind.   I've always done things in the wrong order, I guess.

• Modernist Art, which claims to be the prophet and judge of all human thought and activity, sees reality, what's actually out there -- e.g., the San Joaquin Valley -- as not worth painting (while realist landscapists would feature it).  Meanwhile Modernist Eco Activists are pleading that the San Joaquin be sustained and all the grasshoppers therein, at all cost (billions), and given priority over mere humans.  I think we'd better all go to Los Vegas and have a convention and debate this.

• Modernists yearn to go where no man has gone before.  As the Attorney General Holder warned when he was testifying before congress, “You don’t want to go there, buddy.”  For once he's right.

• I am a portrait painter.  I've duly studied the techniques used by the old masters, and Sargent, and the personas they enframed.  But when it's all said and done my own style and the sort of persona I wind up depicting were more strongly informed by a lifetime of 30 second pen sketches of people unposed and caught off guard in class, conference, and church.

• After a lifetime of painting, at last I've become fascinated by art history and schools or zeitgeists, particularly "romanticism."  Born of a reaction to the Enlightenment's "enslavement" to cold reason, and to the emergence of the "enslaving" industrial revolution, and to "enslavement" to ancient, fixed, force-of-law classicism, Romanticism liberated inner emotions, yea, demanded that art be led only the Inner Eye, the wilder, the more untethered, the more preposterous the better.  Well now, I was painting full blast before I knew anything about being liberated, or that there was anything to be liberated from.  So just naturally I painted realistically and classically, simply because I liked to paint that way, that was what my Inner Eye, which I doubt I'd even heard of, dictated.  Now I am aware that as an artist it is of overriding importance to be liberated, and what I must be liberated from is exactly the way I had by instinct painted.  If I'm not thus liberated I'm no artist.  Wonderful!  O Please liberate my literal eye, please liberate me from Romanticism and it's logical 20th and 21st century outcome hardly recognizable as sublime, modernistism.

 

 

 

 

You are at IesSAYTHERE.com, a cache (not a blog) of mostly essays.

                                                                                                                         Start clicking here

Wesley Kime