ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘William Blake’

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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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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Procedural art, my computer graphics history and op art in Adobe Illustrator

Posted by ddrees on August 11, 2008

I   initt may not be obvious how the reminiscences below all relate to procedural art, my computer graphics history and op art in Adobe Illustrator or how these notions are connected to each other but the pictures will help and the center will coalesce. The ideas that knock around in an artist’s head are kind of like this, perhaps organized as some would label in a right brained way.

What attracted me to printmaking back in 1966 at Skidmore was the idea that you could have more than one iteration or variant of an image without all the precious work of unique painted items. A little mechanical assist was much appreciated. Below see two different copies of pages William Blake’s hand-colored book Songs of Innocence and Experience from the Lessing Rosenwald collection. The colored treatments are obviously different. I wonder what was the determinant in the versions.

Blake - Songs of innocense and Experience 36

Blake - Songs of innocence and Experience 36

Blake  Songs of Innocence and Experience 36

Blake Songs of Innocence and Experience 36

Blake  The Clod and the Pebble

Blake The Clod and the Pebble

Blake  The Clod and the Pebble

Blake The Clod and the Pebble

Blake   Infant Joy

Blake Infant Joy

I liked the way that Rembrandt would make variants in states and in wiping his plates differently and the way Blake would use hand-coloring variations on his prints. Here are four of the many variants of Rembrandt’s Three Crosses plate. Rembrandt’s variations change the content of the print. They are not just decorative changes.

My Sky Curtain series from 1975 were unique items but started with the mechanical assist of the basic intaglio plate that would make richer blacks than could be had with pen and ink. I would rotate the circular plate for different content and add unique images. Interestingly, I am still playing with some of these images, input into the computer. My focus is on the resultant image, not the crafted made by hand one-off concept. That is a concern of many others but has never been a chief concern of mine. Mechanical advantage seems a good idea to me.

It was not just the mechanical advantage, I also liked the metaphor of infinite variations and gradual shifts in increments as profoundly reflecting the universe, string theory perhaps.

Sky Curtain ©d drees 1975

Sky Curtain ©d drees 1975

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain - And All is Always Now ©1975 D Drees

Sky Curtain - And All is Always Now ©1975 D Drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain - Leaving ©1975 Dedree Drees

Sky Curtain - Leaving ©1975 Dedree Drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 D Drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 D Drees

Digital sky curtain-And all is always now ©2007 d drees

Digital sky curtain-And all is always now ©2007 d drees

In the seventies and eighties I was teaching two-dimensional design to traditional art student undergraduates at CCBC. Objectives of the class included craftsmanship, hand-eye coordination, planning the project and such, but also comprehension of the interrelationship between negative and positive space in constructing an image, the requirements of figure-ground construction, control of spatial devices etcetera. We included “Op” art exercises to achieve these objectives and the exercises did the job well. We proceeded from simple line transitions to ambiguous figure- ground images as in the more complicated Maurits Escher’s. I liked the metaphor of black and white creating each other and felt the simplicity of op art could communicate that notion in shorthand.

Bridget Riley - Metamorphosis

Bridget Riley - Metamorphosis

I bought and read Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood when it came out in 1970 and took it to heart. We had all been reading Marshall McLuhan and R Buckminster Fuller at PSU and I glommed onto Youngblood right away while feeling very provincial and resourceless since he was only four years my senior. This book introduced me to a lot of ideas regarding procedural art and related concepts.

For the school library at CCBC in 1971, I had ordered three 16 mm films mentioned by Youngblood; John Hay Whitney’s Permutations, Jordon Belson’s Meditation and Stan Vanderbeek’s Poem field and showed these in Art Appreciation class. I do not know what became of these movies. I hope they still have them. I think low-res versions can be seen on Utube but they do not do them justice. I found them to be an inspiration.

Later I met Stan Vanderbeek at UMBC and was going to teach printmaking for him there since CCBC did not have a print studio and the one at UMBC was going to waste. He was wonderful to talk to and one of the few academics I knew who would give a young female colleague the time of day. Alas, he died young of cancer after an amazing remission story when the cancer caught up with him so my conversation with him was over. I had seen R. Buckminster Fuller three times in person starting at Skidmore in 1965, and was much interested in his work. I  have early Terry Riley minimalist recordings like Rainbow in Curved Air (1969) that sent me to swooning. I knew minimalist music had a relationship to procedural art though in an abstract way. By 1974 or so I was writing in my journal about wanting to make animation movies using what I called modal transitions, which would show various shape and color transitions in which the changes would encompass important content change. The Charles and Ray Eames movie Powers of Ten (1977) had not yet been made, but the kind of content changes I envisioned would be like that amazing change of scale. But I thought I would never be able to do this on my own. And I certainly did not have the resources that people like the Whitneys did. Now I think I could do because of personal computer advances. By 1990 common screen savers like After Dark would be running animations that met Whitney’s call for artists input.

Until the mid nineties I felt like an outsider in the computer image-making realm that I loved so much. What changed my status to feeling like I could be a player was the development of the Mac personal computer and graphics software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Things have continued to get better and better since then. I no longer have to feel like Jude the Obscure.

We started a little Mac lab at CCBC about 1985 to augment the Printing Management program (now defunct due to evolution of the industry) and the faculty was concerned about things like SGML for printer specs and such. By the time Macs had color monitors and the Superpaint application, I was into it with typical techno-greed for every new graphics thing that came along. I still thought in terms of mechanical advantages of iterations for variation, though processing time was painfully slow.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lillian Schwartz at conference of Small Computers in the Arts in Philadelphia in 1992. I had just read her new Computer Artist Handbook. We had both worked with Eugenio Battisti (d.1989) who had recently passed away . I appreciated her success at working with the big boys at Bell labs and such while maintaining a humanistic artistic approach to many issues in computer graphics. I have to laugh at this quote from her artist’s statement, “Those who worked with her in those days still remember her monumental ingratitude to technology.” She is eighty now, but I see she was being commissioned to do videos for Bell labs in 2000. A remarkable and gracious woman.

My early works would typically start with a scan of something from my hand done work and go from there. Small file size was a problem. I would also make a few shapes and reprocess them with whatever I had as software and see what would evolve. These look pretty primitive now but when you thought you had something with nine megabytes of Ram (my first Mac SE) I guess it was OK. Here are a few examples made on my Mac SE;

Early d drees computer graphic circa 1992

Baziotes doodle  ©ddrees 1994

Baziotes doodle ©ddrees 1992

Lightening morphosis ©1994 dedree drees

Lightening morphosis ©1992 dedree drees

caladium panel ©1994 Dedree Drees early computer graphic

caladium panel ©1992 Dedree Drees early computer graphic

Dangerzone ©1994 ddrees

Dangerzone ©1992 ddrees

I gradually shifted from traditional art class teaching to teaching computer graphics starting with Adobe Illustrator 3 teaching Computer Illustration 1.

As things developed I saw I could integrate 2D material in the form of “Op” art exercise, getting the concepts across without the painful pen and ink work and even better stressing the procedural nature of the designs. My new objective was for students to comprehend what “procedural” imaging could mean. As time goes by I have changed and added exercises for procedural images in Illustrator and Photoshop, and back and forth between the two. Some of the more abstract and thus harder for the students have to do with calculations of channels in Photoshop. This basically allows you to invent your own “filters” and avoid your images looking like everyone else’s. But more on that later.

I have played minimally with Flash animations that do the same with scripting but my lack of linear accuracy makes programming very difficult for me. I recall that in HS I did 99th percentiles on many intelligence skills with the exception of “clerical speed and accuracy” for which I had an unusually poor rating. So I may consider this a disability whose disadvantages were not truly discovered till old age.

The op art examples in Adobe Illustrator class start by showing the mechanical advantage of the geometric progression of multiplying the basic unit incrementally. You start with a black square and a white square or void. The first one is constructed to fit your handy grid with snap to grid on. After this there is no more struggling with alignment and hand measuring. All you have to do is option drag and copy the growing compilation of squares. Many errors are avoided and no ink blots. Very quickly a checker matrix or line matrix is assembled and then you can make fun and simple variants with it.

Checker base development

Checker base development

checker field to work with

checker field to work with

checker field state 2

checker field state 2

Checker variant

Checker variant

checker variant

checker variant

more op squares

more op squares

op squares and moire ©dd

op squares and moire ©dd

The three basic start plans are checker squares, sequenced lines and linear transitions. So many designs can be generated by them that Bridget Riley would not want to hear about it. Here is the checkered square start. Others to follow in another post.

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