Late September Maple 12" x 12" oil on panel
That Maple Again 18" x 14" oil on canvas
It's not bad for an artist to be obsessive. I've already painted the maple in my yard a few times and the dots are certainly obsessive. I'm not tired of them yet, although sometimes I need a break. The maple is hard to grasp. It's more complex than one would think for a singular object. There are all those leaves, just beginning to fall, and the light that changes the color with each moment. The back lighting was tough this time around. One of my studio windows faces east, the light coming over the tree line and hitting the maple from behind. It's dark anyway and this type of lighting flattens it. I wanted to get what volume I could and needed to do the charcoal drawing to figure it out. The drawing has a breeze in it while the tree in the paintings is nailed, the color-movement coming from me. The dots aren't mechanical. The process may be controlled, a bit stiff, but the experience of looking at the finished painting is not. I paint them as playful units and the patience involved in their exacting delivery is done with the knowledge that each dot leads to a stronger feeling, an amplification.
I don't subscribe to the old-fashioned idea that the amount of time taken to craft a painting is an indicator of quality, however. Paintings can be overworked as well as conceptually poor. After Duchamp conceived of the ready-made, craft went out the window. Photography parallels the philosophy of the ready-made: the idea that the artist's selection of a form embodies his/her intent. Art critic Clive Bell says as much in his essay Art, in which he argues that form is what distinguishes art.
Although many photographs are manipulated in the dark room and now in Photoshop, there are plenty taken directly in a quick point-and-shoot process. It took time, therefore, for photography to rise to the level of high art in people's minds and "fine art" photography first imitated painting in the movement known as Pictorialism. Alfred Stiegliz, Edward Weston, Berenice Abbott, and Edward Steichen were pioneers and moved beyond Pictorialism to "Straight Photography" i.e. photography behaving as itself, not derivative of another art form.
If you get a chance, visit the International Center of Photography in New York City. They always have incredible exhibits* including the photographs of journalists and political work.
Appreciative of the medium but not a photographer, I'll keep building from the ground up.
*[Currently on view are "Rediscovered Spanish Civil War negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro, September 24, 2010–January 9, 2011 and Cuba in Revolution September 24, 2010–January 9, 2011]