motion 16 : thought it was resolved, but not so fast! / by Philip Tarlow

1:43 PM: i just had the thought that one of the more appealing aspects of working on the motion series the way i have been over the past 4 months is that fortuitous accidents happen with greater and greater frequency, leading me to wonder whether i'm aware in advance they will occur, and only need to shake up my habitual behaviors & expectations to the point where they can spill over and across my consciousness and present themselves on the canvas. in this painting, the most highly treasured such happening is the one you see here. the white upside down triangle with the white line moving down through the gray turns out to be a pivotal axis for the entire composition thus far. slightly out of character with the rest of the marks in the painting, it's like being touched by your lover in a way and in an area never before touched. who knew?

and all this is certainly connected to matt & jason being here the past few days. our conversations over dinner roil up the waters & take mikela & i out of our habitual behaviors & conversations into new territory. it's been coming out in my dreams as well. as we're talking, little flashes of insights & discoveries occur. and the rule of thumb in my work: shake it up, gains in dimension & ends up guiding my movements and decisions moment to moment here in the studio.

                                    motion 16 at 1 pm

1:21 PM: a wandering lady, she is. she desires to pull me towards those new signs matisse speaks so reverently of. there's one particular plein air oil that is especially rich in signs. on that day, november 7, 2014, it seems the rocks spoke to me in a way that enabled me to make one of those rare discoveries.

they are emerging slowly in this re-work of motion 16, filtering into my consciousness. i shouldn't call them re-works, really; they are really more like a part of a process of exploration, you might say. itoday it involved a clean wipe, followed by flipping the canvas upside down, creating a new right side up and a fresh experience of the space.

maybe i need to stop for the day & let it breathe. yes, that's what i'll do.

so here's the evolution of motion 16 thus far, in 3 stages.


12:35 PM: our team is here through tomorrow for actionlab meetings. this is giving me the opportunity to get up & ready early so mikela can start meeting with them by 9. as a result, i had time to make some adjustments to the motion page as well as my fluid landscape page, while casting glances at motion 16. the answer came up: nope! nice try tarlow, but this puppy needs work. so i did a clean wipe, resulting in the canvas looking like it does below on the right. the previous version is on the left. the post clean-wipe look is bare bones, you might say, oddly reminiscent of certain 10th c. chinese calligraphers. and evocative of moby dick's vast white form.

lets see where it wants to go next...

                     my studio at 10 am this morning, with the new motion 16 on the wall

10:28 am: upon entering the studio, which is a bit of a mess, my fist take on the new motion 16 was that it looks resolved. i may do a few more things.....we'll see as the morning progresses.

as i drank my matcha tea, i was reading a chapter on zaho mengjian in how to read chinese paintings. he specialized in painting the narcissus, known in chinese as shuixian,  or the water goddess. imagine spending your entire life as an artist drawing & painting one flower which, in the opinion of scholars, he was able to raise to the level of the orchid.his portrayal of their twisting, turning leaves is especially effective at evoking movement, which of course is of great interest to me right now in my motion series.