Motherly Duty

Edward G. Nilges, “Motherly Duty”, 10 Oct 2010, Crayola on paper 20*60 cm

A Note on “Duty”

Kant is always a healthy corrective to dreary conventional wisdom, for here, his notion of “duty” as doing precisely what is not in our self-interest or what we want to do is very different from the conventional usage, which would interpret me as giving some sort of command by titling the above “motherly duty”: for I have always remarked that when Mothers resolve to do right, which is most of the time, the male of the species is well-advised to either go to ground, and conceal himself in the root cellar, or do his best to help.

In my drawing, the woman wants to go to the party and is all dolled up but has decided at the last minute that her rather funny looking child needs her. This cannot be explained by her self interest.

A Note on Art

It is by now an art school wheeze that shading is more important than the line. I demur: for what is the line but the horizon of shading where the shading goes to infinity.

The line
is critical.

Another art school piety: Pile Paint on Passionately and Be Direct and Spontaneous…

…or else…

This Jargon of Authenticity has produced many canvases, some very good, that are however nothing more than the light bouncing off the final or only layer of paint.

Nope. I want the light to go through trente o quarante layers of paint and bounce off the canvas. So did most painters before about 1848. I want my “cracks and fissures” to be “exposed” in a “messianic light” as did Adorno in the last words of Minima Moralia. Like when you give up smoking, or in Yeats’ poem, Crazy Jane and the Bishop: “nothing can be sole or hole that has not been rent”.

Art as music: art as the series of my attempts: art as dance. Not art as white elephant objects in the basement.

How to Draw Gude: Rules

1. The grownup head is an egg
2. Kids are basically funny looking
3. Find the form
4. Check your work by holding it up to a mirror. I forgot to do this here so her neck is kinda weird, but I still like her self-possession.
5. Don’t worry about drawing gude.

A Note on a Discussion With a Brilliant Person

I seldom have a chance to discourse with someone smarter than me since I work for a living. Sunday evening, however, was a real treat because a friend gave me some advice, and unlike 99% of the people who presume to advise me, she is smarter than I.

My problematic: I am drawing ideas in my head of human figures without the model, and for this reason, cartoonish shorthand and exaggeration appears, especially when I draw women. I want them to be beautiful…ideal.

If I would go in the Fine Arts direction, I would need to avoid mistakes more. As it is some of my work looks like prison or tattoo art: the attempt to be conventional undercut by stoopid mistakes.

I think the basic problem is that I think that Wonder Woman really exists in again that old “messianic” light.

The art school insistence on life drawing from some fat model has its validity. For me, only the unknown helper painting/series emerged strictly from my imagination.

But: the fat model is also a statement. Her place in the rather brutal and rather classist art school milieu says, the sort of person reduced to being a pure object in an art class can be said to not have a soul thereby. She can not aspire to transformation. You must learn her as statistically representative, my dear boy, lest we see your sexist fantasies, your commands to women as it were.

But: I know where I’m not going, even if I’m kinda confused where I’m going. Neither bo-ring realism, with a lot of splashy opaque paint as a sort of decoration of unbearable existences, nor Frank Frazetta Fantasy. Just those (rare) moments in which the light finds us.

Cezanne’s Bathers are a scandal. They just aren’t as good as his triumphant final landscapes of Mt. St-Victoire, because he simply could not get life models in a provincial Aix.


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