ART QUOTES: Do the Work, Part 3

See ART QUOTES: Do The Work, Part 1 Here

See ART QUOTES: Do The Work, Part 2 Here

William Blake “The Song of Los” 

To create a little flower is the labour of ages.

-William Blake

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Image result for john singer sargent

John Singer Sargent, “Carolus-Duran”

Mine is the horny hand of toil.

-John Singer Sargent

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Fernando Botero “The Family” 

My work is a self-portrait of my mind, a prism of my convictions.

-Fernando Botero

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Georges Braque: Atelier VIII is a summation of everything Braque had learned about art during his long life.

Georges Braque “Atelier VIII”

One day I noticed that I could go on working my art motif no matter what the weather might be. I no longer needed the sun, for I took my light everywhere with me. 

-Georges Braque

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Odilon Redon, “The Cyclops” 

The good work proceeds with tenacity, intention, without interruption, with an equal measure of passion and reason and it must surpass that goal the artist has set for himself. 

-Odilon Redon 

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STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 1

It Begins: A Collaborative Painting from Richard and Michele Bledsoe 

It’s surprising it’s taken us so long to do this.

My wife Michele Bledsoe and I are both painters, but very different kinds of painters.

We do share a studio in our home. We’ve spent countless hours together making art. We work back to back, with the stereo in the middle to play inspirational music.

She sits at her easel. I pace around in front of mine.

Michele uses tiny soft brushes. I use big house painting brushes for much of my work.

She discovers her imagery through stream of consciousness dreaming. I am replicating the vision I was assigned.

She likes to focus on one work at a time, and linger over it. I have multiple pieces going at once, at different stages of completion, and I compulsively push them towards resolution.

Michele doesn’t know what she is going to paint when she begins, but she applies her masterful technique to it. I know the image I need to present, but I don’t know how I’m going to paint it out.

We are both wholly committed to our art, and we show it in our own different ways. Remodernism encourages dedication to individual expression, and the pursuit of excellence.

But what would happen if we decided to share our visions together on one canvas, just like we share our studio, and our lives?

We’re going to find out.

Michele and I recently began a collaborative painting. We divided it right across the middle, but we will each contribute to a unified composition, in our own unique styles. We will follow our very different methods and seek to make them harmonize.

I started off like I always do: covering the canvas with a flat layer of color. I don’t like painting on a white surface.

Michele started like she always does: establishing the drawing, as seen in the picture above.

I then put in my crude initial layout, and gave it back to her.

Establishing the basics 

We will trade the canvas back and forth until it is done, and post updates on this blog. It’s a fascinating artistic process to interact with each other in something as complex as a painting. Stay tuned for further developments!

EXPLOITS: In the Eyes of a Painter-and a Major Announcement

Oh the irony: The unfinished work “Self Portrait with 5 Eyes” by Richard Bledsoe

acrylic on canvas 36″ x 36″

 

It’s been an eventful two months.

October 4, 2017, started off great. My wife Michele Bledsoe  and I both had the day off of work. I had a 6 am Arizona time Skype discussion scheduled with a college class in Louisiana. I gave a presentation about the art movement Remodernism and my own artistic experiences.

After the Skype session, Michele and I followed up on a birthday present I had received: tickets to Scottsdale’s OdySea Aquarium. Animals fascinate me, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to see watery creatures right here in the desert.

It was a great time. We got there just as they opened; being early on a Wednesday morning, the place wasn’t crowded at all. The aquarium provided a whole multimedia experience. At an interactive exhibit, I stuck my hand into a frigid pool and petted a sea anemone. I marveled as its little tentacles wrapped around my finger. We watched a 3D movie that projected whales life sized. We took a ride in a revolving theater which rotated to show four different environments, full of amazing animals. Michele filmed the whole thing, and made a wonderful Youtube video of it, linked here: A Trip to the Aquarium Video. 

The marine creatures on display were beautiful. We watched rays, sharks, catfish, seals, otters, penguins, and crabs in action. There was huge, intricate installation of a coral reef, swarming with dazzling fish. The aquarium even featured a few rescued sea turtles. Several have a condition called “bubble butt.” Damage had introduced a bubble of gas inside their shells, and they can’t dive. The aquarium rehabilitates these turtles by attaching weights to them, which restores their equilibrium.

A sea turtle with bubble butt 

After the wonderful visit to the aquarium, Michele and I had a mellow day planned. We were going to go out to lunch, then spend a quiet evening at home, painting. I was trying to complete an unusual piece for me: a self portrait. I depicted myself in front of a strange geometric background I invented on the canvas. I’d been working on this piece on and off for months, and I was eager to finish it.

But first, I wanted to run an errand, and get new glasses. I’d had my current glasses for years, and I felt like I wasn’t seeing well through them anymore.

We went to a typical glasses place in the mall. At that point, everything changed.

When looking into the bright lights of the eye exam, I realized that I had no vision in about a third of my left eye. I only saw darkness.

The optometrist reviewed the results, and immediately set an appointment with a retinal specialist. Immediate as in, go straight to the eye doctor, right now.

We went. During the exam, as the doctors peered into my eye and reviewed their scans, they kept saying, “So close!” I finally asked what was so close. They explained my retina was almost completely detached, barely holding on. I needed to have emergency surgery. They would introduce a bubble of gas inside of my eye to try to hold it together. This made me think of the sea turtles I had seen just hours before. Life is full of the most amazing synchronicities, when you look at it the right way.

The surgery couldn’t be scheduled until the next day. More synchronicity seeped in during the operation. I was sedated but conscious during the procedure. They covered my face with a perforated blue blanket while they worked. The operating theater lights shining through the tiny holes blurred and shifted as I looked up at them, creating a uncanny replica of the blue and white background I had painted on my self portrait. I guess I knew what was coming in some way. As I laid there listening to the murmured conversations of the surgical team, images of coral reefs played through my mind, like the one I has seen in the aquarium, but darkened, like it was night.

After the surgery, the really fun part started. To heal, I had to spend a week lying on my right side. We were grateful it was the side, because often this type of operation requires spending a week face down. Imagine trying to lie face down for a whole week, we kept saying. That would be so hard!

I could see the bubble floating inside of my eye. Because of the way the eye flips things, it always appeared on the opposite side of where it actually was. I called myself the human level, after the tool that uses a bubble to test the straightness of flat surfaces. Around the bubble, the vision in my left eye was like looking through curved jello. Eventually this bubble will go away on its own.

The first follow up visits with the doctors went well. Then at the 2 week mark, they discovered my retina was pulling off again. I had to have a second operation, an even bigger bubble, and ended up having to spend 8 days laying face down. I don’t recommend this experience to anyone. We did rent some special equipment to make it easier.

I was even face down for our 14th wedding anniversary, on Halloween.

Happy Anniversary! 

Since then I have made steady improvements. I can now see over (actually under) the bubble in my eye, and the retina is still in place. We expect a full recovery. It’s been a very challenging time, but I went through it without fear or discouragement. There are several reasons why.

Michele was incredible through this whole situation, everything a wife can be: loving, supportive, encouraging, and creative. She took care of all of our business while I was most incapacitated, and took great care of me. I am so fortunate to have her.

Another reason was my faith. I knew I was in God’s hands, and He was looking out for me. In fact, I actually believe all this time, when I was forced to pause my normal frantic busyness, was a very special gift God granted me.

You see, for years I have been writing a book. On top of working, painting, volunteering, and generally having an active life, I’ve taken time after work and on weekends to formulate an extended analysis of the culture: how we arrived at the artistic crisis of relevance we’re undergoing, and how it can be fixed. I’ve worked persistently, but progress was slow.

I recognized an opportunity in this sudden, unexpected illness. If I was going to be home bound for an extended period, I would use the time wisely. I would finish my book.

At first I tried to work on our laptop, but I couldn’t manage it. It was a terrible strain to try and read.

So we came up with alternative method. Last Christmas Michele gave me a little recorder so I could easily capture all the ideas I’m always having. While I couldn’t read and write, I could talk. I started dictating my book into the recorder.

Michele transcribed my thoughts into the computer.

Eventually I got well enough to be upright again. In honor of my improvements, I made a one eyed painting. I recreated the anesthesia visions of coral reefs I had during surgery, and added a tribute to my constant companion the bubble, which is such a crucial part of my healing process.

Richard Bledsoe “Reef” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″ 

But even more significantly, I finished the first draft of my book. It still needs review, revision, and formatting, but the content is there. We  are self publishing, so we don’t have to jump through any hoops of publisher submissions or approvals. The completed work will be available in early 2018 on Amazon, and through other sources as well.

The book is Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization. I wrote this book for a general audience, not just the art scene.

Remodern America discusses what art is and why we need it. It explains why Modern art happened. It reveals the current destructive Postmodern culture, and the corrupt establishment that created it. Best of all,  it describes Remodernism, the new ethos which will replace failed, deceitful Postmodernism.

I will continue to give updates on the publishing status here on this blog. Stay tuned!

As a sneak preview, the following is the introduction of Remodern America. It sets the stage for the contents of the book. Please spread the word. Enduring changes start in the arts, and a big change has already begun.

 

Remodern America: 

How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western 

Civilization

Introduction

What is the spirit of this age?

History will recognize this as the era the general population of the United States realized the governing class and its connections, far from acting as responsible public servants, had mutated into an elitist ruling class.

These elitists decided amongst themselves that, due to their superior intellects, credentials, and social status, they deserved to control how everybody else lived their lives. This mission of conquest was camouflaged with egalitarian rhetoric.

In exchange for the burden of managing their inferiors, this New Class exempted themselves from the expectations they imposed on others. Those underlings who supported the ascendancy of these would-be rulers received some special considerations as well, a semi-privileged status-but their greatest reward was to bask in the reflected glory of their masters.

The elitists had a plan, and it almost worked. Over decades, the institutions that sustained American culture have been infiltrated, their missions transformed.

Government, media, education, the arts-the occupying elitists within dedicated all resources towards undermining sustaining Western values, all to better serve the consolidation of unaccountable power. They used their influence over the various means of cultural communication and expression to exert pressure at all levels of society to embrace collectivist goals, distorting the concept of equality.

As part of these maneuvers, art was pushed into a crisis of relevance. Elitist malfeasance has marginalized the visual arts in popular culture. In doing so, the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected block access to powerful resources. They deny our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. As a result, the mass audience has turned away.

People instinctually reject the superficial and nihilistic contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class. We currently call this covert corrosion inflicted on the foundations of Western civilization the Postmodern era.

A small sect usurped disproportionate power over the course of the entire nation. Now the terrible results of the corrupted establishment’s agenda are clear. Under their reign we are less prosperous, less safe, less free.

The elitists ran out of credibility and resources before their work was complete. Now we, the people, must to make sure they run out of time as well. The dominion of the deceitful despots must be demolished throughout the culture, on all fronts. Around the globe challenges are rising against the longstanding world order. The story of the 21st Century will be the dismantling of centralized power.

As always, this course of history was prophesized by artists-those who are intuitively aware of the path unfolding ahead. Their works become maps so that others may find the way. The new directives emerging in our culture must be acknowledged. Enduring changes start in the arts.

The entrenched interests are desperate to deny the uprising, but denial won’t stop us. The Postmodern era is finished, but it won’t go quietly. The vast project of reconstruction will commence as we dislodge the failed status quo.

What is the spirit of this age?

This is an era of joyous insurgency and new beginnings.

Welcome to Remodern America.

-Richard Bledsoe

 

Bold Talk for a One Eyed Fat Man:

Richard and Michele Bledsoe 

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

EXPLOITS: The Case of the Condescending Curator

*Update: Richard Bledsoe will be offline for an extended period due to an unexpected medical situation. I am Richard’s wife, Michele Bledsoe – and for the interim I will act as his hands and eyes. 

The following is a section from a major work-in-progress about art and culture Richard is writing. 

“It’s a fashionable world and even good artists go out of fashion.”

-Robert Storr, art world academician 

 

Through my early art school days in 1980s, while I focused on keeping up in classes and learning about the distant geniuses of the past, I was less knowledgeable about contemporary art. Although I was highly engaged with cultural interests, I didn’t know a lot about the art world yet. My punk habit lent itself more to musical trends, and film operates in an entirely different realm than the rarefied atmosphere of the art gallery.

It was my second year studying painting when consciousness of the dominant contemporary visual art scene started to seep in.

First of all, I was surprised to learn in my painting and drawing courses that painting was, in fact, dead.

To understand the logic of that idea requires understanding that the institutional art world is a fashion victim. Despite the airs of conviction and sophistication participants in the arts like to flaunt, the reality is many of them are desperate followers of trends, fads and cliques.

In this particular era when I was at Virginia Commonwealth University, the correct jaded and ironic pose to strike was that painting had run its course as an art form, that it was exhausted and had nothing left to say. We were meant to be embracing new means of expression.

In the early 1990s, while I was still at college, VCU imported a genuine New York museum curator for a lecture to demonstrate this for us. All that traditional stuff was passé, he inferred. He had seen the future; in fact he’d be one of the ones who got pick what the future would be. He was doing all us Virginia hicks a favor by coming to give us the inside scoop.

And what was the glorious destiny of the art world to come, according to this bigwig?

That’s right: political installation art!

If you don’t know what political installation art is, you probably haven’t been in a gallery or a museum for the last thirty years. This curator and others of his ilk created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Under their stewardship every serious arts venue has become saturated with various forms of propaganda instead of art. Political installations indeed became the future of art, because that’s precisely what the few people entrusted to make the decisions about such things for our entire culture wanted to happen. They were partisans for the Postmodern corruption of the arts.

A recent example of what happens when “art” gets political 

During his lecture at us, the curator displayed a series of slides. I forget exactly what they depicted; they were recent works from some Biennale or something. What the pictures showed were rooms full of trash, misplaced mundane objects, and pointless aggregations of random items.

Fortunately the New York intellectual was there to translate for us, explaining how what we were seeing were not presentations of craftless junk, but Important Statements on homelessness, nuclear disarmament, and gender roles.

I left this lecture baffled yet angry. If painting was dead, what the hell was VCU charging all that tuition for?

It wasn’t the money that made me mad. It was the sheer folly of it all.

There’s some idea floating around in pop psychology that if something makes you angry it means you feel threatened by it, that it’s a challenge to your preconceived notions, and it’s an opportunity to grow.

In some cases this is true. However, often I’ve seen that concept thrown out as an attempt at misdirection, to change the subject away from some blatant travesty or transgression.

If you don’t put your values and beliefs to the test consistently, then you can be vulnerable to the suggestion that the problem lies in you, not with whatever absurdity raised your ire. Next thing you know, you are on the defensive, filled with doubt, and ready to eat whatever they’re trying to feed you. It’s a horribly manipulative process, and the gatekeepers of our culture have made themselves masters of this kind of distraction.

The only defense is to know yourself well, flaws and all, and recognize Who the only true source of authority is.

We’re all far from perfect, but that does not mean we have to succumb to the devious machinations of the wicked.

I recognized this so-called art was a lie. I felt it in my bones. It was as instinctual as breathing. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but I understood I was witnessing a betrayal, a coup, an assassination.

What I experienced was the entirely justifiable rage felt when witnessing an attempted swindle unfold, perpetrated by a type of huckster who wasn’t nearly as clever as he thought he was. It was the classic fallacy of the appeal to authority. This guy was some big shot curator, thus his declarative statements were to be supposed to be received as wisdom. But what I saw was some patronizing poseur projecting all sorts of ridiculous significance onto heaps of torn cardboard.

He was just about the most naked emperor I’d ever encountered up to that point. Unfortunately I would soon be exposed to many more.

 

COMMENTARY: 1962 – The Changing of the Avant-Garde

 

Andy Warhol, 1962

“As disturbing as it was, we continued with the Pop generation, which in the meantime has made its own reputation.”

-Sidney Janis, American gallerist, 1896-1989

*Update: Richard Bledsoe will be offline for an extended period due to an unexpected medical situation. I am Richard’s wife, Michele Bledsoe – and for the interim I will act as his hands and eyes. 

The following is a section from a major work-in-progress about art and culture Richard is writing. 

1962 was the end of the Modern Art era. Much like the Salon des Refusés ushered in the Modern Era in 1863, it was another art show that gave evidence of a definitive shift in the culture.

The influences had been gathering for years, before coming together in a definitive event. In this case the tipping point was an art show located in a temporarily rented store front – a pop-up gallery, we would say these days.

The International Exhibition of the New Realists opened on October 31, organized by New York City gallerist Sidney Janis. With this show, the Postmodern era had arrived.

International Exhibition of the New Realists, 1962

We’ve come to call it Pop art, the opening gambit of the generational shift in art and culture the Janis show encapsulated. It featured future superstars Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg, Yves Kline, Christo, and many others.

The reigning dominant critic Clement Greenberg’s grip has slipped. His preference for abstraction had dominated the 1950s art world. After the exile of representational art, it was back with a vengeance, but also with a twist.

Pop art was easy to like. On the surface it was bright and playful; instant gratification art. It aspired not to inspire, but to be ironic. The recognizable imagery depicted was coming not directly from life, but was reproduced from the filtered and stylized presentations of industrial mass media: advertising, Hollywood, newspapers, comic books and television. From its inception, The Postmodern era was informed by the illusions, distortions, and manipulations these mediums employed.  Postmodernism is very useful for those who have something to hide.

But back in 1962, it was a scary Halloween for Janis’s existing stable of abstract expressionist studs. Some of the biggest names in Modern painting quit his gallery after the audacious show. Departing artists Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, and Adolph Gottlieb had struggled for decades in obscurity before the agendas inflicted on the art world turned in their favor. For a brief time, they were the pinnacle. But in the early 1960s a new set of ideas was rising.

The art on display in The New Realists show was not just another variation on Modernist priorities, another facet of Modernism’s typical fragmentation. The new way was basically a repudiation of everything the aging Modernists thought they stood for.

I select this Janis show as the Postmodern starting point because of its consequences. The changing of the guard was plain for all to see in the tempest in a teapot scale of the art world. The Action painters were driven to take action, but it was already too late.

Displaced: Philip Guston, Jimmy Ernst, Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko

EXPLOITS: The 1990 Still Life That Changed My Life

Richard Bledsoe “Still Life 1990″ oil on canvas 12″ x 9” 

I spent too many years in college. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to do; because I didn’t know how to get there.

I thought I wanted to be a film maker. So in 1987 I enrolled in Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University, the in-state school that offered the best artistic programs. The introduction year was called AFO: Art Foundation. We students called it AFO: Artists Following Orders.

AFO was intense and demanding, made to weed out those who weren’t serious. They exposed you to a little taste of all the disciplines: drawing, painting, sculpture, design. We even got to make a little animated film. I found I really took to art, and made it through the freshman year.

The problem was I found out during the foundation program, film classes were part of the Commercial Arts school. This was before digitalization had taken over everything design related. If I went into Commercial Arts I would have spent years working on designs with Press Type transfer lettering, a methodical hand-done system that required exacting precision. Not my skill set.

So still trying to get into film, sophomore year I changed my major to Theater Tech. I thought I’d get into the movies from learning how to create theatrical productions. Not a bad idea, but I quickly learned how hard it was to work collaboratively with all the dramatic personalities drawn to theater. Also not my skill set.

I was only 19 years old, and still had my options open, especially since my family was supporting me. So in what should have been my junior year, I started over again, in the English program. I’d write my way into the movies. Still not a bad idea, and I did well in this program.

These were still pre-computer days for me personally as well. I had a bulky electric typewriter, fortunately with a correcting ribbon built into it; this was my workhorse for my writing intensive courses. I set myself up at the kitchen table of the apartment I shared with roommates, drank beer and typed for hours, alternating between bursts of frenzied writing and periods of tense review and contemplation.

By the spring semester, I had turned 20, and my academic results were good, except for math class. Unfortunately I was still feeling frustrated. The words were coming, but were they enough?

Apart from my assignments, I was trying to write creatively, on my own. When I tried to write expressively, I felt the visions inside me were not being set free, but being trapped in cages of words. Language just felt so limited, not capable of the nuance and impact of visual imagery. The most important aspect of any vision is the part of it that can’t be reduced to words.

The authors I most enjoyed reading were craftsmen, technicians of language who still managed to tell a good story. This was a very different approach to the epic rushes of sublimity I yearned to evoke.

Hunched over my typewriter, pounding out yet another three page essay, my mind turned back to my early days of college. I remembered what satisfied me the most, moments that had little to do with my fantasies of film making. Pouring over library books of visionary artists. The spontaneous joy I felt coaxing big images to appear by the application of brush and pigments. A hands-on, tangible process compared to endless calculations and ponderings. Actions instead of words.

Unlike film, painting provided a combination of self-directed creativity with the graceful, ineffable presentation of visual imagery. I’d barely touched on the practice of painting, only had a glimpse of the possibilities, before practical careerist plans had led me elsewhere. Now I wondered if I hadn’t overlooked something very important.

I performed an experiment. For the first time in a few years, I made a painting. I bought a small pre-stretched canvas; I don’t even remember where I got the rest of the supplies, the oil paints and brushes I used. Maybe I borrowed them, or had them laying around from my freshman year. I set myself up a little still life: a candle, a rock, some folds of cloth. And in an afternoon, I made a painting, working to make the objects look as realistic as I could.

Even though the candle was white, I painted it as pink. That and the position of the stone I arranged ended up being super suggestive. After I was finished I didn’t need Freud to identify what I ended up creating was an unconscious phallic symbol. I took this to be a positive sign.

While making this small piece of art I managed to get paint on the wall, on the floor, in my hair, even on my underwear somehow. But even though it was only a small canvas, the fascination with the process quickly reemerged. I was creating objects that looked like they had volume; they cast shadows, occupied space, were illuminated with an imaginary light. Summoning these illusions felt magical.

The outcome was simple enough, a nice study in blue, pink and gray, a bit sloppy. But that plain little painting held vast implications. By the time I was finished, I knew I was going to have to tell my long-suffering parents I needed to change my major again.

My life as a painter had begun. The work hasn’t stopped for going on 27 years now.

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“A true art is the visible manifestation, evidence and facilitator of the soul’s journey. “

The Remodernism Manifesto 

 

STUDIO: A New Painting in Progress, Part 5-Completion (The Work Must Speak For Itself)

“The War You Will Always Have With You” acrylic on canvas 36″ x 36″

Richard Bledsoe

The months went by and the painting progressed. I dedicated as much time as I could to it in between all my other obligations. And finally the time came when I stepped back and didn’t see anything left to adjust.

The painting is done when it speaks for itself. If what I put into it cannot be seen, no amount of explanation can fill the gaps. Here is what the spirit of this age looks like to me.

New paintings have already been done, and others are in process too. The work continues.

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” The making of true art is man’s desire to communicate with himself, his fellows and his God. Art that fails to address these issues is not art.”

The Remodernism Manifesto 

 

Earlier Installments:

A New Painting in Progress, Part 1

A New Painting in Progress, Part 2

A New Painting in Progress, Part 3

A New Painting in Progress, Part 4