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Some things recovered

July 27, 2018
Small sketch from artist's sketchbook

A quick study in oil pastel from my sketchbook

…It could be an idea you’ve stashed in a sketchbook and forgotten about, or an article that you cut out of a magazine because it caught your eye, but you saved it so well (!) that it was lost. This week I found two forgotten things that caught my interest all over again. An article from 1991 about an incredible artist, Elmer Schooley (1916-2007), who painted these immense and intricate paintings, basically for himself.

Schooley’s paintings are so large and dense that they invite total immersion. He said, “My paintings are not a performance—they are a wrestling between myself and the emergence of the subject matter.” (To read a little more about him, go here.)

Elmer Schooley, My Golden Age, oil on canvas, 84×94

That’s an engagement between artist and process that I like a lot. It’s a brave act to find what works for you and make THOSE paintings.

The other artist I “recovered” is Jonathan Borofsky (b. 1942), who, again, created out of a passionate interest, but this time in his own “dreams, fears, and emotions which continually chronicle his daily existence.” This description is from Dean Sobel writing about a show of Borofsky’s drawings at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1986. I got it from the program for the show (found the program again this week).

Jonathan Borofsky, Berlin Dream at 2,833,792, charcoal on paper, 58 1/4 x 73 1/4

More recently (2002) Borofsky has said, “Every artist’s work is their self-portrait. That’s true whether it’s Mondrian [putting] one box of red, next to a box of white next to a box of blue and balancing those boxes. It’s still a self-portrait of the inner working and the inner soul and the inner feelings of the artist. Some of those self-portraits are more abstract than others. Because I’m an ongoing work myself, my artwork becomes kind of a record, an ongoing portrait of my life.”

I wonder if Borofsky and Schooley were aware of each other. I think they would have had a great conversation.

Here’s a painting I’ve just finished (I think)—it led me through a lot of twists and turns, but I’m happy with where it finished.

Mapping the strata VIII, acrylic on canvas, 48×24


A short note about my long absence from my blog: A lot of changes have been happening, including spending the last year building my new studio. It’s done! …and I’m back to work.

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