Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Feeble Post

Over at Wikipedia’s page on Karen Kilimnik they quote a very mean review of her work that appeared in a British paper a few years ago. The review begins with a question that I find almost incomprehensible:

Wan and whimsical paintings - why does anyone want to make them? Why does any self-respecting painter ever set out to be feeble?

Laura Cumming, 2007

“Feeble?” What the hell is that about?

I’ve posted about Gwen John. [Jeffery Camp On Gwen John] Would Laura Cumming describe John’s soft, plaintive images as “feeble” and consequently dubious?

I took the strange question personally because I wrestle with the issue of “feeble” [?] art myself, and I wrestle with self-respect issues myself, too.

Whenever I do a cartoon, I almost always have a hard time because I do a quick, small pencil sketch to identify what areas of the image I may have problems with. Then I do a larger pencil sketch. Then, in the traditional manner of graphic artists, I ink the pencil sketch and render color in one way or another. Most recently I’ve been using Prismacolor markers.

But I usually feel a very strong imperative to stop at either the large pencil drawing stage or even at the small sketch stage. I like them.

I like the gentle images pencil sketches create. The “feeble” [?] images seem to me darn close to being end products themselves. And although I usually like and enjoy the more forceful ink and color renderings, they don’t really feel as immediate and powerful to me as do the original pencil sketches.

For various reasons I’m not going to go into here I recently bought some Liquitex acrylic paints. (I know some people who simply don’t take any image seriously unless it’s a painted image.)


This afternoon I did a quick, small pencil sketch of a woman that I’d intended to be the first stage of the “normal” process of then creating a larger pencil under-drawing which I would then paint over.

But I liked the little sketch so much that I just stopped to think about things. Here’s a scan of my little notebook. The original is 4 x 6 inches:

So I’m kind of stalled—I mean philosophically—right now. I need to figure out a way to think about this, to get comfortable either with what I do or with changing what I do.

I don’t like to post about unresolved issues but this has been on my mind all afternoon and it’s about all I can post on right now.

I’ll try to get better for tomorrow.

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