Continuing the topic of where do ideas come from – let’s look at what I call ‘extensional(derivative)’. The idea comes directly from something else, an image or idea that I’m attracted to ‘extend’. Think Warhol soup can, a re-purposed package wrapper. Or less directly as in my drawing, “Johanna”, visualizing a few lines of Dylan’s “Visions of …”:

“But she just makes it all too concise and too clear that Johanna’s not here … And these visions of Johanna they kept me up past the dawn.”

Here it wasn’t so much illustrating ‘a lover’ as it was distilling the feel of his paean to the ellusive illusional Johanna. She is not present, he does not know where she is, and he can’t keep her off of his mind; but the visions are all that remain.

I put her in a no-space, downcast eyes she does not connect with the viewer, black and white like an old photograph. But has he lost her or is she just a dream?

The most common examples of the ‘extensional’ would be any classic genre scene of a biblical passage. It is evidenced though too in something as recurrent as an Odalisque. The harem, centuries old, now becoming popularized in 18th century Orientalism and odalisque a popular subject.

All these inspirations described are not really separate, except on this level of abstraction of discussion. I’m not at the drawing table thinking ‘conceptual’, ‘associative’, … I’m just working; but it can give some insight by looking at the process.



Practice makes perfect. Sounds good, but it needs to be perfect practice. Well what is that??

I have heard it advocated that one should ‘paint a picture a day’ and this will speed one to artisthood. Maybe this comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s observation that it takes about 10,000 hours to become a ‘Master’. Maybe it does, but standing over a canvas on the floor and drizzling paint out of a bucket for 10k hrs. will not make you Jackson Pollack, sorry. No it has to be 10k hrs. of actually doing something. Let’s stick with Pollack. There is a lot going on in a Pollack painting, and it isn’t jump out at you illustration. You have to “contribute” to a Pollack to get something out of it, whether it is the landscape, or the portrait, or the still life. And they didn’t get into the painting by just drizzling paint. Look up some of the videos of him at work, it’s work.

If you look at the larger body of some Old Master’s work, someone who’s left a lot of paintings, and sketches, and etchings, etc. you see that there are the same, or very similar, poses and figures. Here in Guido Cagnacci’s Death of Cleopatra he has used the same face and he is able to put the different emotions on it, not by chance surely.

There is no quick fix nor is quantity alone an answer. You won’t become a Master by turning out one piece of crap a day, but you will get better if you turn out one perfect hand/leg/arm/nose every drawing session. Discover, recover, uncover the basics of drawing a hand, foot, etc. and then do that, drill the basics. When it becomes your own it will not leave you.

Hugh MacLeod in a talk made 20 points about success here is what he says about mastery:

“17. In a word: MASTERY. They’ve MASTERED something. Something inte­res­ting and valua­ble. They are MASTERS of their craft. It may be an old-fashioned word that makes peo­ple uncom­for­ta­ble, but that’s only because it’s something that elu­des most people.

18. Though, having watched these mas­ters care­fully first-hand, I can honestly say MASTERY is more satisf­ying than money. If you’re up for it, yes, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN MONEY, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS.

19. And it’s por­ta­ble. It tra­vels with you, whe­re­ver you go. No land­lord, no boss, no reces­sion, no Wall Street analyst, no news­pa­per cri­tic can take it away. It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

I like that last, “It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

Todays art.

I’m late today because I got into a political email with my sister and had to pull my head back into art.

Got a couple of things framed yesterday. This is good. I make myself stop fiddling with a piece after I’ve signed it, but until I get a frame on it it’s not done. I can’t exchange it. That’s what it’s all about, exchange.

Also have done some smaller work recently (10×12 – 11×14) and was pleased by the results; usually I work at 18×24.

It’s invigorating to see, in the galleries, an increase in ‘representational’ work. I like to think artists today have come to grips enough with ‘new media’ and lens based images (David Hockney “Secret Knowledge”) that the ‘need’ for abstraction is less immediate. Of course based on ‘what is this piece saying to ME’ and ‘does it let me contribute’ abstract is well established as art.

Maybe I’ll pull a couple of things out from under the drawing table and dust them off; until next time.