A late 2006-Correspondence between Sarah Strickley & Joseph Raffael as they prepare the article "The Story of the Artist"
After reading and thinking and studying for a few days, I've come up with
I'm intrigued by the idea that your painting is about painting and I feel
Painting becomes the subject of those works in an overt way -- the space
I wonder if we might focus a conversation around those kinds of ideas and
It might offer our readers a VERY unique look inside the artist's life in
At the same time, I find myself returning to the painting journal excerpts
I'm imagining something very special -- a one-of-a-kind mixture of stories
What do you think?
Did you see on my website the new video "Painting Spirit" in the What's New section?
The ptgs you've chosen seem right and yet the works of the flowers, birds, fish are truly about
In any case, this is feeling really good and right.
There's also a recent audio interview I'd love you to hear.
Thank you for sharing the interview with me -- how lush the sounds of those
I thought perhaps I'd send you some ideas to start us out today. I don't
I've been thinking a lot about your studio wall. I know it has appeared in
These paintings now seem to me to talk "about" the ART of painting, about
From here I feel drawn into a few different conversations. One about paying
Perhaps because it is truly Fall here, because I'm so less than eager to see
We're inside the studio in these paintings and yet we can't help but notice
Right now, I'm having an adventure ptg a dark romantic piece called:
"I wonder if you might share your
I feel this is one of nature's roles ---to bring us to a state of awe, to give us a sense of something way vaster than our limited life views.I believe all the arts often aim towards and accomplish the same thing for those who experience it.
In nature, and in particular through my responses to the garden, whether it be with the plants, flowers, leaves, birds, fish, or while watching the ever-changing sea and skies which I see just beyond the garden here where we live----- all this inspires me to make art. It always has. It's been this way for me since I was a child , silently gazing upon and entering nature's 'mysterium' , unconsciously processing it,and then lying on the floor drawing with Crayolas transmuting it into my drawings. Basically it's the same for me now.
That which I see in the nature realm has an alchemical effect upon my being. This is what I call 'inspiration'---- breathing in the divine, the mysterious, and then, expressing it during the act of painting, which is, of course, opportunity after opportunity to enter into the creative moment.
Nature reminds me of who I am in my deepest self, and that alchemizes with the need to paint and out of it all hopefully issues the invisible made visible in the painting.
(Sarah, I believe you saw the Biography journal excerpts in the library section of the website right?)
I think Lannis’s idea (Dec 22nd in the Journal) that Biography is like a play is particularly apt—it has given me a way of thinking about the design elements of the feature. I think I’d like to arrange it too like a play. With three acts—each a different part of a story (your story) about the vocation of painting. Perhaps devoting one act to each of these notions (one about the importance of nature to your painting, one about the paintings about your painting, and one about your creative philosophy more generally) would be a good way to begin conceiving things.
I suppose we’ll see what happens and what fits where as we go along.
Here is question #2 for you:
You mention in your journal for Biography that the painting is (in a way) an homage to the life you’ve been given as an artist. I wonder where the stories behind the smaller pieces (the Van Gogh, The Golden Kyoto Palace, Egyptian Couple, and so on) figure in the larger story of the painting. Also, some of these elements re-appear in the later Biography painting—is this a sign of their continued importance to you or something more?
Again, I hope you’ll respond at your leisure.
I believe the 2nd act would be more effective if it was 'the importance of painting in my paintings',
From left to right: 1. A Tibetan Tanka which I had painted a few years ago within a Tibetan inspired series I did. 2. Photograph of a blue colored bird with something it had caught in its mouth. 3. A photograph of a holyhock from our garden, again, from a series of paintings I did.4. a photograph of our bedroom wall. 5. A photo of Vincent as a child with a watercolr border. 6. A Tibetan scholar meditating in his special room of study and worship. 7) A photo of Lannis on a Greek island hillside half a decade or so ago. 8. The Egyptian couple. I love how the woman has one arm around him and one arm and hand touching his arm. Reminds me of Lannis' support of me and my work all these years. 9. A variegated colored rose from the garden. 10. The garden with part of one of our three white sister cats. 11. A camellia from the garden which I had painted or would paint later on, actually it was later "Ouverture, 2003" and also make a litho of in 2004 . 12. A collage of Tibetan tanka, and three birds from our cages, and a butterfly. 13. A cropped photo of a canna which Lannis saw and photographed for me on a trip she had made to Bali . It's the flower in the watercolor "Joy, 2002". 14. Below that a postcard photo someone sent me of.... 15. A collage of a Braque nude female ptg which I cut out 25 or so years ago and have carried with me. Behind the figure is a turbulent deep bliue sea. Not unlike the sea which I now view from my studio window. Returning to the top. 16. The red and indigo butterfly. 17. A photo Lannis took for me of two swans floating in a French castle's moat. 18) A collage-painting of the Kyoto Golden Palace with a watercolored border around it. 19. A tree in China where pilgrims have hung hundreds of colored ........ 20. Next to it two whales in the sea. 21. Below it a pond scene from our garden. 22. Next to it a collage of a Buddhist shrine with autumn leaves round it. 23. Below 19, 20,21,22 is a watercolored photograph of a studio Pennant bird. 24. The Sacred Stream photo. 25. Two Angels with Aposh montage. 26.Repro of a Vincent self- portrait which I had made a painting of about 25 years or so ago. 27. Photo of another butterfly. 28. Lannis in studio with Aposh on her shoulder with the ptg called "Orchids for Juan" in homage to Juan Gonzalez, a brilliant artist, who died of AIDS. Lannis had given me the orchid plants and table for them one Christmas. On a certain Winter morning I entered the studio and the rising dawn sun created these shadows. Juan had painted orchids. 29. On table at bottom is a hand colored border around a woodcut I had done with Experimental Workshop in the 90's.
(Parenthetically, Sarah, as I was writing about all the above, I' would get confused when I wrote photo or collage etc because in fact they have become paintings at this point for me. That is interesting. And I believe it follows your idea about how the art )
I just got what you mean about conversation.
In the ptgs of around 2001 or so, I had done a series called "Scenes from a Life". The first studio wall appeared there. I wanted to show anyone interested what surrounded the artist, what visually affects him from day-to-day, wanting to offer the viewer information about the artist beyond what they usually get to see in a show or a catalogue. To go beyond the scenes gifting them with an inside view, an insider's view.To show not only what the artist creates but also demonstrating what feeds the artist, what inspires the artist.
I actually prefer not being seen personally or as a personality. That, in part, is why I live 6000 miles away from the art world, or why I don't have fromal openings of my work. Just an opening day at which I am there.
For example the bookcase ptg is about honoring Literature and Writing,
You are correct that this particular group of ptgs is a celebration of a life.
That 99 9/10ths statement, Lannis says is absolutely not true. I'm sure I said it in a moment's excitement.
Your 3rd paragraph question which is an excellent one is tricky to answer.
I feel that you have a sense of my work and why it is there, and that's why you can roll quickly into the 'essay' mode.
What do you think of this?
At this point I don't know what I said and didn't say.
1) On extreme left of wall is hanging some strips of color splotches on paper torn from a watercolor's edges.
2) This is a litho of "Pink Lily with Dragonfly". I did it about 25 yrs ago after a trip to a Buddhist monastary on an island off of Hong Kong.
3) Below the litho is a small metal table with some collage materials lying on its top, plus a Tibetan tanka-inspired collage leaning a bit up against the wall.
TOP MIDDLE ROW
5) Our dog at the time. She was called Beauty. One morning in the wood near our house.
6) The Kyoto Imperial Palace. I've ptd it a couple times. First in oils in 1985 a ptg called "Marriage" honoring Lannis' and mine which had just taken place But not this is a different angle , same season, a newly restored golden expression of it.
7) The dog Beauty in our living room.
9) Butterflies...... AHHHH........ This one with such great markings and colors.
10) Another image I have brought with me wherever I have gone for 3o plus years. A nativity scene/ birth. In this detail two angels and FLOWERS, bouquets. I've added our Cockatoo Aposh in the garden on an orange tree branch.
11) A 'sacred stream along the Hudson in Upstate NY.
12) Another butterfly.
13) Le Pére Tanguy with Japanes ptgs surrounding him. Don't you love how he has become part of the people we know? He's like a relative. Art is miraculous.
14) Table with phtographs on which at some point may be ptd.
(I'm also sending this to myself just to make sure....)
Most importantly cazn we discuss this after 4 Nov?
Let me know.
We can certainly discuss this after the 4th. We’re thinking of the June issue which (oddly enough) puts my deadlines in early December. And even then we have some wiggle room.
I’ll keep my eyes open for a message from Sam and work on bringing a draft together in the meantime.
I hope Paris proves a welcome respite from the buzzing of those bees.
Hope you et al are fine.
Paris as ever was just the thing we needed.
I've just reread the last couple exchanges we had.
Thanks, and do let me know if there's anything elso you were wondering, etc....
This is exciting.
I'd love to see the text in advance if that's OK with you. That'd be so fine.
I feel as though there should be a drum roll attached to this e-mail somehow. Here it is: I’ve attached it as a Word document. If you have any trouble opening it, let me know. And, of course, I’d welcome any recommendations you might make. I’ve tried to bring an interactive experience to the feature, inviting the reader to enter the painting with the information you’ve provided as they receive it—imagine the paintings juxtaposed to the text.
I haven’t settled on a title yet—I’m hoping one arises organically from the design.
As for the photo, any of those on the website would do, but I’m partial to the one of you and Lannis in front of Herald.
Hope you enjoy it!
A DRUM-ROLL doesn't suffice!
Lannis and I love what you've done.
I've made some minor corrections and additions (IN RED) mostly to things for clarity's sake which I've said .
Also I'm sending my newest ptg image separately to give you an idea of what's happening.
I'll be back to you about the remaining things...
Here is cover input from Nancy:
"Here are some concepts for the cover for you and Sarah S. See what you think: Joy, Mandala Bouquet (the watercolor),
Interesting because I had thought Stegner too. It being the June issue, right? Cherry blossoms and all that.
In any case Sraah, sure here that you there will make the successful choice.
"Orchids for Juan" was painted in homage to Juan Gonzalez, a brilliant artist who died of AIDS in 1992. He and I were among the first artists to show at Nancy Hoffman's gallery when it first opened in 1972. Lannis and I loved Juan and his work. Early on, we had purchased a work of his entitled UNTITLED (BIRDS) 1973, a colored pencil drawing which we find amazing. In it there are the shadows, on a wall, of birds. Birds as subject had been important to me since my early work, and has become more so in my new paintings. For me, birds have always symbolized the human spirit. In the 70's I painted a watercolor entitled "There's a White Bird in Me Yearning to Fly Free." This tall, narrow piece with a single white bird in flight against a blue background was symbolic of my life and my dreams of that time.
How fantastic. Very powerful cover!