looking back / tweaks to gaze 26? / by Philip Tarlow

2:49 PM: despite what i said earlier about leaving the painting as it was when i came in this morning, i couldn't help going back in. so here's how it looks as i end my painting day; much warmer in tone, with more defined, sensual lips. can't believe i'm saying all this, when at the same time i'm always stressing the importance of the overall integrity of the picture plane above all else, and the dangers of sacrificing that in the slightest for anything content related. never having worked before from the image of a native american teen, i find her gaze compelling in an entirely different way than, for example, one of vermeer's women, or the fayum portraits. don't know how to characterize it...

in the end, a painting has to work. exactly what that means is and will remain a mystery, but you know it when you see it. you begin noticing stuff that bothers you, whether that's the expression on a mouth or a shape or stroke or element of the composition; you notice that stuff when the painting is not working! stand in front of picasso's demoiselles d'avignon for an hour or two. does anyhting grab your eye and pull you away from the magic of that picture plane. a color; a line; a stroke or shape?

10:33 AM: my all important first glance tells me that gaze 26 is just fine as is, and does not need further work. knowing when to stop has always been a big issue for me and, as i gaze at this many layered painting, it seems to me the wise thing to do would be to stop. bring it to the house & give it the acid test of all-hour gazes & comparison with it's siblings, then make a final decision.

1974 peugot wagon; mine was a gold-ochre, and looked, somehow, more exciting than this drab stock photo indicates





7:27 AM: in 1974 i flew from athens to paris to pick up my new peugot 304 station wagon (πουζοδακι or little peugot as poet embirikos nicknamed it) from the factory and drive it back down to athens. it was stunning to visit the factory and see my brand new vehicle roll out, with zero km. on the indicator, then drive it, oh so carefully, to my low budget hotel in the 6th arr. i remember it was raining and i went often to the window, drops rolling down, to check if my beautiful gold ochre peugot was ok. the walls were paper thin, and i heard the moaning of the 2 gay parisian women in the adjacent room.

the drive paris-athens remains strong in my minds eye: the car-train over the alps; the fabulous italian road side snacks; the ferry from brindisi and my triumphant arrival in athens. the parking guy on haritos st in kolonaki provided my first scrape. so sad.

at about 10 i'll be back in my studio, do an hour of actionlab curriculum editing and see where gaze 26 goes next. LEFT: a detail of gaze 26 as it looked yesterday at the end of my painting day.