8/14-17/14 chance encounter I, 32x32" / by Philip Tarlow

8/14/14: i began this painting today. i was browsing through one of my matisse books and stopped at the painting on the second row, left. i'll continue tomorrow.

8/15/14: i worked extensively on this painting today, after futzing around and avoiding this encounter for a few hours. two elements i have been developing over the past 6 months or so are coming together now: "warmup" exercises based on 11th c. chinese calligrapher huang tingjian and drawings in colored pencil made while looking at a grouping of 16x16" plein air paintings on my wall. these drawings are done on large sheets of paper, in a fit of passion, which i then cut into biomorphic shapes.

stage one of this piece, below on row 2, consists of a drawing in colored pencil. stages two and three are dominated by the bold reddish border drawn from looking at the matisse masterpiece.

today's version involved making a series of brush and colored pencil marks on large sheets of paper, then cut into biomorphic shapes. the chance in chance encounter refers to how these elements are collaged onto the canvas, how they find their space in the dance. i try not to think about where each cutout needs to go; rather, in a white heat of energy that slices through plotting/planning/calculating mind, they go where my hands place them. you trust unconscious mind to do what conscious mind cannot.

this activity, which is somewhat related to the surrealist interest in automatic writing, "objective chance" and automatism,  doesn't always work. as i've said before in this blog/diary, the urge to repeat a successful set of moves is an ever present danger, to be avoided at all costs. But you can't always avoid it, and you fall into the trap and sometimes create an unresolved, uninspired piece.

analysis: the zigzag red pattern on the lower left mirrors the pattern on the matisse blouse. the overall movement in the piece echoes the rushing water flowing over the rocks in the plein air paintings. the parallel green curved marks in the lower right, is a variation on the universal language indicating pouring or flowing water. the overall feeling, one of barely contained chaotic aliveness, is all a part of my late career urge to create a counterpoint to my years of  realism. while this work contains many purely painterly passages, it is carefully plotted and planned.

i am in the planning stage of 2 mini exhibitions, which will reflect both directions. one, titled chance encounters, will consist of recent collages along the lines of today's painting/collage. the second, titled everybody loves a parade, will consist of variations on the parade theme of the painting of the same title, which was a key part of my 2010 solo exhibition in athens, greece. a reproduction of parade, oil on linen, 38x30" is on row three, with a detail of the painting next to it.


as usual, i'll know when i walk into my studio tomorrow morning whether more work is called for.

8/16/14: this morning, as soon as i entered my studio, before even making my matcha tea, i got to work on simplifying and de-busying yesterday's version of chance encounter: belowfirst row. i used a transfer technique related to the surrealist "automatic drawing" to make brush marks on a nonabsorbent piece of palette paper, which i then pressed onto the painting surface, creating the more prominent blue and red marks. still working...........

8/16 4pm: i waited a bit & did other things, all the while casting quick glances at the piece. it was almost but not quite. current state, below right.

8/17 11am: mikela's astute observation that the pink on the upper left wasn't working was accurate. i saw that as soon as i entered the studio this morning. so for now at least, chance encounter I feels resolved. as with all paintings, this one in particular needs to be seen in person to get the full impact. suffice it to say, this painting is now juicy, delicious and good enough to eat. details on row 2. click & make them full screen. so am i right? good enough to eat?