ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Arnold Bittleman’

Confluence of Influence Faculty Show 2010

Posted by ddrees on August 1, 2010

Our upcoming faculty show is themed Confluence of Influence. The concept is that we reflect on our strongest artist influences and write about how these are manifested in the works shown.  The show shall be up in the Catonsville Gallery at CCBCMD from August 30 to September 24.

Here is my influence statement, just submitted.

Lots of artists will tell you their best ideas came from beyond, were given. But I need the precious commodities of time and quiet spaces to bring the inspirations to fruition. I do a lot of slow synthesizing. Among my most important influences in the language of image making are Charles Burchfield, William Blake, Rembrandt Van Rijn and Arnold Bittleman. These fellows provide a tradition of notation that can be built upon to maintain meaning.

We are stuck in our bodies but we make trips to transcendent places all the time. We need to reaffirm this and put it in perspective as four-fold vision in works of art, as Blake said, “An eternity in a grain of sand”.  The transcendent is embedded in the actual in works of art.

William Blake’s classical archetypal figures all signify our identity. He embodies multilevel meaning from the particular of the streets of London to the eternal. My Dad quoted “The Tyger “ to me when I was a little child, which made me sit up and take notice. Blake connected verbal and visual as well as anyone ever has.

William Blake from Songs of Innocence and Experience

William Blake from Songs of Innocence and Experience

I saw and was influenced by Charles Burchfield at an early age. His evocative art was a personal inward response to creatures, sounds, weather and temperature of everyday life. His perceptions in the moment with total awareness allowed the connections to the vibrations of the universe to happen.

Charles Burchfield

Charles Burchfield

My college drawing teacher Arnold Bittleman took reality and observation and rendered it with a meaningful line system and a respect for the mark as the creative instant. He synthesized the aesthetics of the West and the East.

Arnold Bittleman Untitled

Arnold Bittleman Untitled

Rembrandt’s inner feelings and introspection were backed up by compositional choices, as in “David and Saul”. He used light to direct the viewer’s gaze and color and texture to set an introspective mood. Yet he worked “naar het leven” so the transcendent and real are connected.

Rembrandt, Saul and David, 1655-60, Mauritshuis, The Hague

Rembrandt, Saul and David, 1655-60, Mauritshuis, The Hague

My short artist’s statement is here. I need to update it sometime soon.

I want to make art that is beautiful, that addresses the viewer’s spiritual needs. Perhaps that is my role—to try to get people to look at the sublime and the beautiful again. I want to create works that show, as Blake said, ‘an infinity in a grain of sand.’ I like the idea of an art that is multi-cultural and multidirectional, connecting then and now, here and there, them, and us into images that show the transitional forms that bind. The more the artist can put into the work as potential meaning, the more the viewer will be able to connect with, no matter where or when.

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More about op art

Posted by ddrees on December 30, 2008

r-ms1eturning to my discussion of Optical Art, I would like to share some of the ideas of US design education in the third part of the twentieth century. At Catonsville Community College, the two of us who were the main two-dimensional design teachers for years, though very different in personality, shared in the indoctrination of our alma maters, Bob Dale from MICA and UMD and me from Pratt, PSU and indirectly, Yale through Skidmore, and so we saw eye to eye on our educational objectives. I handled the Color Design class, which was more Albers than Albers. I do not think we were too much different than most of the country in our points of view.

The CCC art faculty used to differentiate between types of op art effects in a manner that would help the students gain control of the art elements both one element at a time and elements combining with other elements. Other objectives were to develop abstract thought capacity and hand eye coordination. In those days we believed artists should have an ability to objectively assess what they put out for communication and to realize that there might be a difference between what they were recording to the material world and what portion remained in their imagination. The students were supposed to realize what was the perceiver’s share. This is not a new idea in education, think Henry Adams “One sees what one brings”, but with many ripples about what is really real. Since I somewhat believed in objectivity, this was important to me.

Let us not forget that Plato worried about the unreality of images many years ago and the discussion goes on and on from there. Oh yes, there was also the graven image item in the Ten Commandments and what that would expand to. In the sixties and seventies, the op artists were making their manifestos  and I remember Victor Vasarely declaring that after him there would be nothing more for anyone to do in the art world. I think he missed something basic about creativity. He must have missed Arabesque designs which influenced Maurits Escher and also quilt designs to mention a couple of precedents.

Maurits Escher- Butterfly

Maurits Escher- Butterfly

NYPL arabesque designs 4

NYPL arabesque designs 4

NYPL arabesque designs 3

NYPL arabesque designs 3

NYPL arabesque designs 2

NYPL arabesque designs 2

NYPL Arabesque designs

NYPL Arabesque designs

I have used quilt design motifs in a number of my works like these two below.

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

We are really all remix artists. Some pieced quilts

c1tcht2 pieced quilt

c1tcht2 pieced quilt

japanese-quilt-show-at-the-la-connor-quilt-museum-wa1

japanese-quilt-show-at-the-la-connor-quilt-museum-wa1

le159v1 pieced quilt

le159v1 pieced quilt

oleo-1973

oleo-1973

Some call Vasarely the father of op art, but with so many design precedents I cannot see how anyone could lay claim to that. At an AIGA speech at the Baltimore Museum I recall hearing April Greiman laying claim to the circle. I think she was at least fifty, so old enough to know better. She startled me.

The basic starts in our 2d design class were line transitions as previously discussed. Previous

Line transitions were made out of even width lines that might or might not wave or change direction. The line had to be repeated many times at intervals or negative spaces that were close in width to the lines, to create ambiguity at the edge of vision’s tolerance for seeing things as discreet lines and spaces, and optically mixing them as visual gray. The result of the ambiguity would be difficulty in keeping the image static. You could delight in how something as simple as a line system would produce flashes, depth and motion arising through perception. Many traditional artists and engravers already knew all this because they had to control the elements to tease them into illusionism.

https://ddreesart.wordpress.com/tag/op-art/

Diderot's Encyclopedia Sandal detail showing line transition

Diderot's Encyclopedia sandals engraving

Diderot's Encyclopedia sandals engraving

When I was a student in Bittleman’s class he would have us take small pieces of Albrect Durer’s mature woodcuts and copy them with brush and ink very magnified in order to study the relationship of the line pattern to image formation.These traditional artists were not so interested in focusing on these tricks as on some other content of their preference.

If you start to use shapes rather than lines, new experiments can be generated. Adding color shifts, hue, value or intensity adds the next development. So from line transitions we took the students to shape transitions. From simple figure ground ambiguity we moved to reversing figure ground designs in which the shapes had additional content, like being letter forms or creatures, (think Escher). I hope that the students were following this train of thought. I assumed they were because it was so laborious for them to craft these items in pen and ink that they had plenty of time for their brains to ponder on it. Their results were often very good. As more elements join in the game, possible creative results expand exponentially. Using a vector program makes this all the easier. My computer graphics students can proliferate designs so fast it would make Victor Vasarely roll over in his grave. I do not think they care to imagine what it was like to make these by hand. The end of art is nowhere in sight.

Student’s digital line and square op art examples:

	121cg1_cmc_opsquares2.jpg

121cg1_cmc_opsquares2.jpg

121CG1_JW_checkers

121CG1_JW_checkers

cgvc121_lmp_checkers

cgvc121_lmp_checkers

cgvcd121_eab_oplineart2

cgvcd121_eab_oplineart2

cgvcd121_eab_opsquares4ai

cgvcd121_eab_opsquares4ai

jhorstmanCHECKS

jhorstmanCHECKS

trudylrwbheart

trudylrwbheart

How tos;

Making a Line transition with bend and twist in Adobe Illustrator- see figure

  • Make line stacks with a 6 point stroke
  • Transform /move /vertical -12 point . Copy the repeat transform 50 times or so
  • Option drag to get 8 or so stacks, Align and distribute the stacks
  • With direct select tool select points between stacks and move the set. Repeat till it looks like this
  • Then  apply the twist filter
op line-bent-and-twisted-part-11

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-11

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-2

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-2

mylinetranbendtwisted ©2000 DD

mylinetranbendtwisted ©2000 DD

Making a Shape transition in Adobe Illustrator

  • Shape blend between two triangles- one with apex to left one to right
  • Height of triangle must have multiple values that equals number of steps times vertical distance between top and bottom
  • Run the blend. Here there are 14 steps between two shapes
  • Make another set horizontal as a start guide to reset apexes for additional columns
  • Option drag column and edit apex- repeat to width desired
shape-blend-starts for op shape transition

shape-blend-starts for op shape transition

	shape-transition-1 ©2000 dd

shape-transition-1 ©2000 dd

Line transition with figure ground reversal

figure-ground-reversal-lines

figure-ground-reversal-lines

figure ground reversal dressed up ©2000 dd

figure ground reversal dressed up ©2000 dd

figure-ground-reversal-turned-decoration ©dd 2000

figure-ground-reversal-turned-decoration ©dd 2000

I plan to add an entry about more complex figure ground reversals in the future.

Art and life

In view of the playful, game-like nature of op art, despite the arguments that it points out ambiguities and conditional nature of meaning, I often worry that art is a minor pursuit. But I feel that I can be surer of my conditional statements in art than if I were to make huge blunders in the material world like our government has been making. In art, the players are line, shape and color, reference, etc. In politics and control of wealth I do not even know who the real players are. I do see some ugly results in the real world, so I hope the future will track down the truth.

This from Harold Pinter d.2008: excerpted from Nobel Prize acceptance essay 2005

In 1958 I wrote the following:



’There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.’



I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?…..

So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool, which might give way under you, the author, at any time. 



But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.…

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all.

My PSU printmaking mentor , Bruce Shobaken, used to say about being an artist, “At least I am not hurting anybody”

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sun moon stars rain

Posted by ddrees on August 17, 2008

When I was in Freshman English at Skidmore in 1963 we were asked to analyze e e cummings “anyone lived in a pretty how town”. Everyone, even the worst reprobate Union College boys, thought e e cummings was the coolest. In my class, girls who had gone to the High School of Music and Art seemed to be able to talk in secret language to the teacher, Donald Tritschler, who I think was in his first year of teaching. I did not know what he was talking about or asking us to talk about. I was in a cold sweat in that class. I felt that we had not been prepared at Utica Free Academy to trust our own ideas or instincts when reading, so things were sucked in and held in abeyance till someone with authority would steer us towards what to think. I really loved the stuff we read and thought a great deal about it but I was expecting that coming from the provinces to this golden place would allow me to be filled with the external wisdom that they had and I did not. So I was tongue-tied. It took me till junior year to work this out when Arnold Bittleman, my late great drawing teacher, said in a lecture that when he went to college he expected to be able to be filled with external wisdom but then found out that it came from inside. I do not know the source of this Bittleman Self Portrait. I grabbed it off the internet years ago.

 

Self Portrait   © Arnold Bittleman

Self Portrait © Arnold Bittleman

But  I got through Freshman year through the kindness of my teacher’s hearts and it took me the next three years to get my grades up to an average that would let me in graduate school.

Unbeknownst to Donald Tritschler, the poem has resonated in my imagery. It may be a little abstruse crossing from verbal to visual but it works for me. The art teachers at Skidmore never managed to indoctrinate me into thinking that having literary elements in one’s art was anathema. That was part of that era that I am glad is forgotten. Who is Clement Greenberg? No link for him in my blog. See Tom Wolfe instead.

Here is the poem.

by e e cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did

 

women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain

 

children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more

 

when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her

 

someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream

 

stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)

 

one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was

 

all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

 

women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

 

From Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1923, 1931, 1935, 1940, 1951, 1959, 1963, 1968, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976, 1978, 1979 by George James Firmage.

Lines from this poem wash across my brain often. Below are some of my artworks that I see as having a kinship to it.

 

Mimicking the Sun ©Dedree Drees 1978 watercolor

Mimicking the Sun ©Dedree Drees 1978 watercolor

Sun Flare © Dedree Drees 1996  digital

Sun Flare © Dedree Drees 1996 digital

Landscape - pink ©dedree drees 1995

Pink Landscape ©1995 Dedree Drees digital

Why wait any longer for the world to begin © Dedree Drees 1969, etching

Why wait any longer for the world to begin © Dedree Drees 1969, etching

Above named from a Bob Dylan song lyric

Dreamer ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Dreamer ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Waves of Flowers tiles   BWI airport garage

Waves of Flowers tiles BWI airport garage

Newton to Blake Landscape ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

Newton to Blake Landscape ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

The multiple sky idea is just an appreciation of all the light shows we get to watch, no two alike and in every color you can imagine. I believe there are plenty of Flickr groups on the subject.  You know ‘”the world is so full of a number of things, that I think we should all be as happy as Kings”.

Mirabile Visu © dedree drees 1980  watercolor

Mirabile Visu © dedree drees 1980 watercolor

Skies ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Skies ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Skies ©1980 dedree drees pastel

Skies ©1980 dedree drees pastel

There is a nice old German song about the good moon Guter Mond du gehst so stille with awareness of people from all times and places connecting by seeing the same old moon.

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

OCD helps your art in many ways. It took me a while to pick out the exact watercolor pigments to bleed as I wanted them to for Ryder Moons. Here is Albert Pinkham Ryder.

Albert Pinkham Ryder   Moonlight

Albert Pinkham Ryder Moonlight

Dover Beach ©1987 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

Dover Beach ©1987 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

This named for Mathew Arnold Poem –Dover Beach. Being literary again

Beach Montage  ©1996 dedree drees digital

Sometimes I can not get wordpress to show the captions- do not know why. The image above is from 1996 and is a digital version of Dover Beach.

God Bless Baltimore ©1982 watercolor

God Bless Baltimore ©1982 watercolor

Sheep May Safely Graze  © Dedree Drees handcolored etching

Sheep May Safely Graze © Dedree Drees handcolored etching

Above named for Bach Cantata- “Schafe können sicher weiden”. You can play that at my funeral

Klein blue sky ©1996 dedree drees digital

Klein blue sky ©1996 dedree drees digital

International Klein Blue is a color Yves Klein painted on many things. I saw his show in the Jewish museum in 1967 or 1968. He had died young in 1962. Unbelievably I find a Wikipedia link here to IKB. The world is so full of a number of things…

Klein Blue sky ©1996 Dedree Drees digital

Klein Blue sky ©1996 Dedree Drees digital

Yellow stars ©1996 dedree drees digital

Yellow stars ©1996 dedree drees digital

Fooling around with colorways on the computer – sure is fun. I mean it!

Cumberland Fall ©1989 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

Cumberland Fall ©1989 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

The above was from a photo taken on a rainy day as we drove to Pittsburgh for my father-in-laws funeral. So it is rainy,sad,cyclic, eternal.

Lightening scape ©1995 dedree drees digital

This is 1995 Lightening scape, digital, from the same photo as Cumberland Fall.

The Rain Beats the Rain  ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

The Rain Beats the Rain ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

The title is from an haiku but I do not remember where I first saw it. This is the best link I found though it is not the same translation.

Leaves falling
Lie on one another
The rain beats the rain

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