August 26, 2005

Process Post: Fore!

acrylic on magazine paper

The golf club is analogous to the paint brush. Despite an afternoon’s circuitous trek through compelling pastoral vistas punctuated by dramatic physical exertion, it doesn’t take long to realize that, fundamentally, golf is a mental discipline. Last week, for the first time, I tried my hand at a round of golf and, in this one regard, the terrain was familiar.

For years, Chuck Close has used golf as a metaphor to offer entrance into his particular painting process. In searching the web, I found a fascinating and extensive 1987 interview with the artist wherein he explains:

Golf is kind of interesting. It's a stupid sport, but I like it because it's the only sport that I can think of in which you move from general to specific. When you're standing at the tee, you often can't even see the green or the hole where you're going to ultimately end up. So the first stroke is just out there somewhere, and the second stroke attempts to correct and refine the direction. On a par four course, by the third stroke, you should be on the green. You're now getting very close to what you want, and then you hopefully can putt out on the fourth stroke. Now you're someplace very specific --this very small circle. I like the idea of having a certain number of steps to take to move from general to specific, and I like the idea of building a painting rather than painting it. So I conceived of each one of the squares in the original oil paintings as a kind of par four course. But just to make things more interesting, I would tee off in the opposite direction.
(Y)ou always have the possibility of coming in a stroke early with a birdie. Clearly, I'm not going to stop until it's right. I'll put on as many strokes as necessary, just as in playing golf you've got to keep making strokes until you find the green. So, you could get a bogey or a double bogey or you can have the aesthetic equivalent of being mired down in the sand trap, where you keep making stroke after stroke after stroke and not getting anywhere.

With the three new paintings posted above, I was definitely going for the green, aiming to bring the works to resolution in an economical, direct manner. As to whether they hit the mark or warrant the charity of a mulligan, I’ll let you be the official scorer.

In the end, for my maiden round of golf, I shot a 56 over nine holes. Gotta work on my putting.

Posted by mark at August 26, 2005 12:19 AM