Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 10 January 2012


Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou’ as of 10 January 2012”: acrylic grisaille on canvas, 60 * 80 cm.

Have bought a SIMPLE palette of colours (burnt siena, yellow ochre, Prussian Blue, Winsor Blue, and Vermilion). The matte-translucent style sets off more earthy and basic colours to great advantage: Daniel V Thompson’s classic The Practice of Tempera Painting recommends earth tones for yellow and red. Cadmium is poisonous and overpowering.

The vermilion cinnabar in being more orange than purple should be more useful for skin tones. Also acquired a sap green in the event I cannot fashion one.

Colour is all about the line as is chiaroscuro. Strive at all times for a perfect edge. Even a distant object can pleasingly reflect a smidgeon of color of a close object as if there’s a sort of wormhole or communication going on between them. Everything is everything else, more precisely related to everything else by the medium of language.

Everything as in Poussin’s Triumph of Flora must conspire to produce the dancer in order that it is known and fulfilled by her.

Finishing the Grisaille: the child’s face needs work and those are supposed to be clouds.

Note on reproduction: I always adjust it using iPhoto and other tools as do “real” art reproducers, perhaps using more sophisticated tools. Here I retain the color to show how the light will basically warm and the shadows, cool, but not blue as in Impressionism.

How to show she’s not en pointe but rather leaping with great turn out? By making the water look deeper. The problem being that I’ve already painted quite a splash which causes the eye to assume that she’s touched bottom. But the diver enters the water without a splash. Not sure how to resolve this.

Constantly returning to the figure to paint absolute black inside black, white inside white. This causes it to emerge more and more. But every time I examine an Old Master I realize how far I am from their level of workmanship…and the sheer amount of time they spent.

It seems that as long as I keep a balance between black and white, time spent on the figure, thinking hard about my own body’s kinesthesia, its pressure and movement, the more it emerges as the apex of the landscape, produced by the landscape to reflect on it…as in the anthropic cosmological principle where the universe meant to produce its witnessing.

Having run, almost never missing as much as a week except once or twice, for thirty years, I find that even today, as was the case in Chicago in 1981, I produce a world in a run. It forces you to take a fresh look at the world. This is an act of creative synthesis which painting also celebrates.

Cezanne said he did not paint nature, he painted “about” his sensations. We do not experience the thing in itself. Otherwise we’d be the same thing as that which we experience. In painting we reify this process and in so doing celebrate it. We take responsibility for our relationship to the world.

For most of us most of the time, there are two things. “Poor me” as in “pour me a drink”, and the world, whether Nature and bugs, or Second Nature and unemployment. A work of art is a third way. Music (Schopenhauer) says, “it could have been otherwise” whereas painting says “here is how I saw it.”

And when we take responsibility for our relationship to the world,
Nothing can harm us, and we’re free.

Note on landscape: very pleased with myself for learning from Asian art to just sketch in scrambling Banyan branches and leaves that float in a Chinese way I never saw in the USA. These flowers shall just have to escape the general rule that “all parts of the painting shall be translucent with respect to the gesso ground” because I’m not Andrew Wyeth and need not be as compulsive.

It’d drive me nuts to do justice to the monsoon forest. Intermediate between forests in temperate zones (except for the “temperate zone rain forests” of the Pacific Northwest) and the Jungle, the monsoon forest in which I live is a scramble for light, branches and elephant ears go where they must to support photo-synthesis. So I’m trying to suggest it.

Why make a photograph? Let the painting be as drawing is, a form of writing that aspires to be not-writing, with me taking-responsibility for this aspiration, this romance. And let the series itself be Mahler, a refusal of completion.


3 Responses to “Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 10 January 2012”

  1. As a writer, you can imagine my surprise (and delight) at encountering so many new words in one post!

  2. spinoza1111 Says:

    Thanks. New words, new art. What were the best new words?

  3. spinoza1111 Says:

    The most important word is translucent since ever since the Impressionists, art schools have privileged the false authenticity of layering on slabs of bright colours with distinct brushwork, and this is a brutal simplification. You’re no longer looking at a process, just the final state.

    Translucent as you probably know means lets light through but not forms.

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