Catching Darkness Light shining
Blades of Grass soft touch
Planing wood curls
Air thick with thoughtful Breath
Clouds in Sky
The life of Jackson Pollock, whose avant garde works of art in the 1940’s -50’s in America, helped identify and change a direction in the expression of art on canvas for America and the world at large.
Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912. His parents moved the family a number of times during his formative years, and by the age of eight, his father finally left the family. Jackson was the last of five brothers, and he found himself relying on his older brothers for support and guidance as he grew up.
Some say that through his brother, Charles Cecil Pollock, his interest in art was established. And in truth, he did follow Charles to NY in search of an art education, by means of the Art Students League. In a sense though, would it matter from whence came the beginning point, as the art that was produced, the inspiration and the creativity, came from the source of the heart of the one known to us as Jackson?
It would seem that Jackson began to open up to the opportunity for this expressive medium and this new direction in life began to form. There is a funny and twisted element that moves in the world: it has a way of circling back around to one as soon as one commits to an uplifting direction. The world will throw stones at anyone who dares to move upward! In one sense this is figurative speech as it manifests itself as a pressure from the world to stay as small as you can, because if you change, guess what? The pressure is redirected in the direction of the world for it to change!
The world will challenge one, the minute one realizes that the capacity to live a life that is full of richness and accomplishment is that which is inherent and lies inside of one. The world wants us to believe that it is not possible, nor a reality!
It seems that at certain times, Jackson Pollock felt the pressure of a world saying that he was not capable of being a great artist, and when his response was turned in that direction, he seemingly moved toward it, dissipating life’s resources with bouts of alcohol. You know if you are drugged, somehow the voices within you are quelled for a time, and life can happen without one’s direct input. To answer the voice within and come into agreement with the possibilities of the richness of the experience of life, the agreement needs to hold steady while the world cries like sirens in some stormy sea passage. Sound familiar?
Jackson Pollock apparently worked with many factors in his life, some that appeared to twist his ability to handle pressure. Though for each one of us, is pressure a given? The question boils down to how much do we care to hear that voice of inspiration?
“The modern artist… is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces.”
With the use of alcohol one could only surmise that it eased the pressure of the vision and the great capacities and talents of Pollock for a moment. Yet when he was sober, there he was, faced with this tremendous talent inside of him and the inspiration of creativity moving to be unleashed.
If we think about the events that occur to us each day, do we hear the choices that can be made concerning the direction of our lives? That of either uplifting our lives or succumbing to a response of little interest, no interest or unconcern toward our circumstances: it is our living experience. If we choose to pay attention, there are certain nuances of pressure that come to focus in us. We can choose to be aware of these pressures and listen to what they are attempting to say to us… or not.
The choice is ours to make.
“The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.”
Stay tuned there is more to come! Thank you for your inputs and comments!
National Gallery of Art. “Jackson Pollock.” 2011. National Gallery of Art. Oct 2011 <http://www.nga.gov/feature/pollock/>.
Pioch, Nicolas. “Pollock, Jackson.” 2002. WebMuseum. Oct 2011 <http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/pollock/>.
Pollock, Jackson. “Jackson Pollock Quotes.” 2011. Brainy Quote. Oct 2011 <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/jackson_pollock.html>.
various. “Jackson Pollock.” 2011. Answers.com. Oct 2011 <http://www.answers.com/topic/jackson-pollock>.
Claude Monet. The name brings with it the recognition of the early beginnings of Impressionism, the essence of an artistic play with light, and a love of the garden.
His father Claude Aldophe Monet, was a grocery store owner and his mother, Louise Justine Aubree Monet , a singer. His father wanted his son to follow in his footsteps as a grocer, but Oscar-Claude Monet had his sights set on becoming an artist from the very start.
As Monet explained it in an interview, he was unable to be disciplined as a child, and unsettled by the restrictions of school, would draw irreverent exaggerated pictures of his teachers. By 15 years old, his reputation as a caricaturist was widely enough known that he was able to sell his charcoal caricature drawings for 10 and sometimes 20 Francs in town, in what seemed to be a growing venture.
In his town of La Havre, there was a store that displayed his art, and as it was at the time, another artist’s work as well, placed above his own: it was the artwork of Boudin. Monet’s account of this interesting early connection was that, at the time, he did not care for Boudin’s art, and wondered how Boudin’s art could be placed in the window above his!
Often when there is something new or different that is presented to us, we respond to the situation with a feeling of aversion. As children we delight in surprises and the new experiences of life. Yet later on many people experience a sense of competitiveness, or territorial position when faced with new things, people, or experiences.
Why is that? Is there some kind of comfort that we look for in the old ways or things? Are we holding onto some imaginary territory that we call the known, building walls around it so that when we look to the unknown we know that we are safe? Are these walls what we call pride? Or might it be some kind of designation of status in the society that we cherish? What would be the point?
Someone once related to me about the characteristics of water, and how even the cleanest, freshest body of water will turn stale and brackish without the influx of new water and circulation…that in fact, water is a breeding ground for many unhealthy things if it is not refreshed. If we were to relate this to how we think about how willing we are to approach new things in our lives, how fresh is the input in our lives?
In any case, Monet had the opportunity to be thrust into the presence of Boudin, by circumstances that he did not orchestrate outwardly. To his surprise and the patience of Boudin, his eyes were opened to new experiences in painting. With his expanded learning, it brought him the next steps, that assisted him in realizing new creative levels of accomplishment. This appeared from his willingness to let the walls down of his own imaginary castle of knowledge.
Monet had a passion for his garden and many paintings extended out from that point of interest. His passion for how light brought change, even to something that one thought one knew yesterday or this morning, revealed how little we know about the nuances of life itself. To study the effects of a changing landscape, watching what once was bright and intense with color, even an hour ago, now being masked with the rich tones of an evening sunset, bringing different aspects life’s atmosphere into focus. It was never the same, no matter how many times he attempted to capture the essence and poetry of a moment, the painting was a unique expression; it was without precedence.
How often have we come to a place, knowing that we have been here before or having seen this person before, and peering out from behind our castle walls of knowledge, think that there is nothing new happening?
How different do we hear or see things today?
Stay tuned! More to come! And I appreciate your comments!
Monet, Claude. Claude Monet by himself. 1900. 3 June 2011.
Anna Cornelia Carbentus and Theodorus van Gogh had a baby in the month of March of 1852, whom they named Vincent, unfortunately it was a stillborn birth. In one of those events that one wonders about, exactly one year later Anna gave birth to another boy child to whom they re-gave the name Vincent, just as was the one before him.
His full name was Vincent Willem van Gogh.
There seems to be much about Vincent’s life that brings a sense of wonderment: of the realizations of the intensity of which he experienced his time on Earth and in the sadness of the feelings of separateness with which he lived. Though one could say that the same things that in one way separated him also gave him a sense of connection.
It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.
Vincent Van Gogh
For many people, there might be a sense of identification with the separateness of living, attempting to meld with others in the world, like an emulsion of oil and vinegar. It can be done but it takes a lot of shaking to blend the two ingredients.
In this we are told to love our neighbor, but how does that translate if our neighbor moves to the beat of his own drum and we are put off from the attitudes of those around us?
Does it take leaving everything that the world offers in material things, as Vincent attempted to do, in order to find that point of intensity, that point of feeling that seems to allude all but a few people, reaching into the depths of experiencing life in a way that touches one’s center? Is the price seemingly too high?
How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?
Vincent Van Gogh
What voice do we hear for the direction of our lives? To what are we responding to?
Why did Vincent leave what he knew, what could have been a job to earn money, for something unknown to him? In fact, his younger brother Theo, sent him enough money on a continual basis for him to have food, shelter and art supplies! Why was he hungry and had to trade artwork for a few small necessities?
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
Vincent Van Gogh
Courage first to hear the voice that is so faint at the beginning, and second, to take the action that the voice is commanding… yes that might be a word to describe that voice…because if we do follow that voice, we will find that there will be other words to hear also, kind of like moving on a treasure hunt one clue at a time.
Vincent heard that voice, and his road took him to places he did not expect! Though as we know, each one of us has a special and unique path, that when taken does not interfere with any other one on the planet, but does in fact add to the experience of the whole, and creates more than what we could have planned out for ourselves!
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
I feel the need of relations and friendship, of affection, of friendly intercourse. … I cannot miss these things without feeling, as does any other intelligent man, a void and a deep need.
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent made choices! Choices that moved him closer to what he believed would bring him to the truth of his life. In a sense how he suffered was close to each one of our experiences on Earth, and in some way that seems to be related to a sense of disconnect from, shall I say it?
A separation of body and heart.
The need to experience life centers in the heart! He knew that and so do we! But were we given these extremely sensitive bodies to abuse and suffer with? Or are they exactly the vehicles through which we can interpret our inner core vibrations into the atmosphere of the whole?
The core being the very essence of life itself, not that which we conceptualize about, but that which is the very truth of ourselves.
And in a sense, one could look back to Vincent’s dilemma, struggling and striving, willing to do anything to remain centered in the heart of life’s buxom, yet at the same time, knowing that he did not need to suffer to be there…the dichotomy of the world’s situation…the separation of how our own vehicles work.
Ah, how interesting! Bodies as vehicles! As part of a system of nature itself!
Stay tuned! There is more to come!
Gogh, Vincent van. Starry Night Over the Rhone. Musee d’Orsay, Paris.
—. Vincent van Gogh quotes. Apr 2011.
Pioch, Nicholas. Gogh, Vincent van. 2002. Apr 2011.
Vincent van Gogh gallery. Vincent van Gogh Biography. Apr 2011.
Henri Matisse was born in December of 1869, in Le Cateau-Cambresis, France. His father was a corn merchant, and his mother an amateur painter.
This simple beginning belied the fact that Matisse would be a world renown artist and part of a revolution in art-Fauvism, a style of art that uses bright color and sometimes distorted forms to send its message.
How can we know for sure what is in store for us? The workings of what might be called things invisible?
Sometimes we wake up with ideas and thoughts about extraordinary accomplishments and get ourselves set to execute them, excited to start, and then somehow some of us get baked in the ready without actually moving into the gusto of the form and the enjoyment of the fruit!
The artist, Henri Matisse was educated as a lawyer, and worked for a couple of years as such. What an interesting beginning to an art career!
Then something happened. Something that shifted his direction of vision. A sickness. Appendicitis. Deep and dark this illness struggled to take his life at age 21, though Matisse was not ready to let go at that time, and was moved to reconsider his position on Earth. Have we ever been moved by a strong deep feeling, with a sense of purpose?
It was during the time of convalescence that he was given the implements of the art world and the bond of a quiet and rich understanding of his enjoyment began. It did not take him long after the recovery of this illness to search out an art school in Paris and begin his studies, leaving the practice of law to others.
Here was a small point of vision, where all around him was the evidence of his life as it had been up to that time. Was he to leave that which he was familiar with, that was bringing him a living, and reach out for something unknown with just a beginning point of truth?
Is anything that is born fully mature when it comes? The fervor of an idea or concept received is only the beginning point from which the real work begins. Of course, moving through the time when the world wants to water down the feeling of great accomplishment to just a hint of the original intensity of flavor, really is the work that has meaning.
“You study, you learn, but you guard the original naïveté. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover.”
This is the point of focus through which extraordinary accomplishment can begin to develop, to be that which excites us in our experience, and moves us through the day. What could be better than that background of excitement that keeps one focused on a task?
We know that Henri Matisse studied the masters of his time and those before, that he worked in obscurity for a number of years, moving through the steps of developing his specific voice with brush patterns, ideas and color fusion…
“An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language. “
How could he know that by taking the small step away from something known, that he would come to be known as the key representative of the movement that was described as les fauves, “the wild beasts”, art that spoke the extremes of emotionalism, with vivid colors, and distortion of shapes.
Here then was a translation that began as a small intensity of feeling of truth about oneself, and blossomed, with pruning and care, and consistency of focus, until what was produced became a legacy for many to share for all time.
What is that tingle of excitement that moves us today?
Encyclopedia of World Biography. Henri Matisse. 2011. 4 Feb 2011.
guggenheim collection. Biography. 2011. 4 Feb 2011.
Henri Matisse.com. All About Matisse. 4 Feb 2011.
Matisse, Henri. Henri Matisse quotes. 2011. 4 Feb 2011.
Charles Eames was born in 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. As simple a beginning as many others have experienced.
Bernice Alexandra Kaiser was born in Sacramento, California, in 1912. By 1929 she had moved to New York with her mother and began studying painting at the Art Students League. By 1940 she entered the Cranbrook Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, where she began working on a committee with her husband to be, Charles Eames.
So what is it about some people who, as many before, had simple beginning points and somehow moved into the world, their radar’s tuning into something that others do not hear or are uninterested in hearing?
Well what about that nagging thought of what am I doing here? What am I to accomplish while I am here? It was a clear thought when we were teenagers for sure! How much have we kept and fanned that fire?
Many among us believe that if only we had the money, the position, the right mate, and the right opportunity, that then we could absolutely move ahead with our lives…all of the elements that we have seen somehow surround those who have obtained something of wealth and power.
As we think about the agreements in our lives, and the ones that are the most influential, what closer and special relationship there could be between a man and a woman? To be sure, this intimate association has the depth of the possibilities of great complementation and the movement of an expanded field of influence.
A fact that we all sense is there, but why is the experience for many seemingly haphazard and vague?
To begin with, the realization that the potential is real would be a starting point of creative activity, and understanding why or how it could be spawning bed of joy to oneself and all around would be another major point.
Really. It would seem to be an obvious point of thought however sometimes those things that are close to us can get lost in the shuffle of daily pressures.
Oh questions! Too much energy is needed to answer questions, let’s just go to work and let what comes come. Besides the wine is good and the jokes are fun and sometimes bawdy…what could be better?
Charles Eames became a teacher at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, and in 1941 divorced his first wife Catherine Woerman and then married Ray Kaiser, his colleague.
Was it this specific partnership and agreement that began a whirlwind of creativity that moved out into the world…the agreement that each one was looking for, for the accomplishment of their dreams? The one that changed the rules for furniture, photography, filming, and art?
Charles and Ray apparently saw no limitations in their potential to discover, learn and explore the realms of creativity, no doubt seeing the other person as a sounding board for new discoveries from within themselves and celebrating new found points of horizon with and for each the other.
A relationship based on uplifting the other person’s assets in lieu of utilizing their faults to hold one from the discovery of one’s potential and keep things ordinarily comfortable…
Wow, how different from that is as most of us have experienced? What is it do we see in the people around us?
Ah,….could it be that the required vision is what is our responsibility and not others? The Eame’s legacy points to the fact of what agreement between people can begin to produce.
How fun! Stay tuned, there are always interesting things to discover!
In reading about Josef Albers he realized the essence of certain pressures in his life, and in the recognition of those pressures found that although he was surrounded by others, he was personally responsible for the interpretations of those opportunities.
It was not that he was different or blessed in some way but he was different and blessed in ways of being alive, willing to entertain the pressures that were moving in his life, thereby giving him the opportunity to live his life.
When we are honest – that’s my saying – if we are honest then we will reveal ourselves. But we do not have to make an effort to be individualistic, different from others.
Josef’s childhood was not extraordinarily different from others and apparently his family had thoughts of him being a teacher. So it was that he became a teacher.
What we read in the history books, of the highlights of someone’s life, sometimes seems to give us the feeling that there are certain ones that have had magical lives and that they moved unerringly towards the Sun without a cloudy day!
Ah, …as someone once said to me, “And on what planet do you think you are living on?”
The pressures of the time in history that were moving on a larger scale, were rich with a new sense of creative vitality: the efforts of the Art Nouveau movement (180-1920’s), the photography of Alfred Steglitz (1864-1946), Ansel Adams, John Muir, and many others including the reach deeper into the explorations of math and science, focused by Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and his friends.
Something was seemingly shifting, moving away from the old traditions, and finding new paths to expand the understanding and level of awareness of life and living.
On a larger scale, are we not living in times that are moving away from traditions? What elements are formulating our decision points right now?
Josef found the Bauhaus School looking for instruction in the expression of art. He most certainly was challenged. At one point, he was impulsed not to take a standard route for training in one of his classes, but instead to study on his own. Of course this was not met with agreement from the standpoint of the school, though in the end he was allowed to do so.
An impulse seems sometimes to be so right, yet as we know if we act on “impulse” we seem to be hanging on a thread with our relationships around us, and more times than not going down a road that does not have a very good ending. Why does it feel so right?
If we think about how we receive impulses, and from where they come from, then things begin to make sense. Electrical charges or impulses can come from the world subconscious realm of things and they can come from a higher source, Nature if you will.
To receive these impulses are very special, though to act on them without concern for the source is to be in stormy waters with your sails still set. It becomes a gamble whether things will work out. How can we know which is which?
One question that seems to help guide one in this quest is simply, “to what end?”, meaning if one follows out the impulse, where will it lead one to? So in this way we can begin to be responsible for the outcome of our actions. But it does takes a moment of purposeful quiet contemplation to follow the path of the impulse through it’s possible course.
Though Josef did not know at the time, the time frame of the school being open would be curtailed due to the pressure of the German regime that was gathering for war, and an opportunity that would arise for him out of the Bauhaus school closing, a position at a new American progressive school of Art in Black Mountain, NC.
This new school and the teaching position proved out to be a time when Josef wrote and developed his now famous understanding of color and its properties, ideas of which have been promulgated throughout the design world since its inception.
His ability and capacity to perceive color and to realize certain properties that have relation to the human being was extraordinary. The depth of study is still absolutely valid in today’s world.
How enriched we are by Josef’s passion to understand his sensory attunement to color and the doors that opened for the many who could and can realize what he was sharing with us.
Stay tuned! We seem to have just touched the seeds that others have left us!