August 17, 2006

Process Post: Mountain Tags

acrylic on magazine pages

This post struck upon a universal aspect of process in the life of every artist. It reveals the development of a thing painters, dancers, writers, photographers, all come to recognize - or have pointed out to them by others - as the artist’s “vocabulary.”

The ambition is to stretch it, inhabit it, move beyond it, eradicate it and start again. In the life of any great - Dylan, De Kooning, Streep, Barysnikov, Joyce - you see it embraced and cast off over and over.

This process, however, is hardly the sole province of acknowledged greats. It’s abundantly evident in the refinement and practice of eponymous yet anonymous local graffiti writers, worldwide.

When mountains began to rise from the horizon of my drawings a while back - lining the tops of compositions, forming eyelids and eyebrows - I delighted in having entered uncharted territory.

The iconic aspect of this particular new vocabulary struck a deep chord.

Freed from reliance on any roadmap, I set myself the charge of attaining an image and a way of working that might enable me to experience a landscape I could imagine walking into.

Several latenights into the trek, the works mounting on the wall suddenly looked like tags - shorthand symbols unlocking imagination and evoking a universal adventure through one-off expression.

These peaks seemed to rise beyond caricature in the same way great tags snake through graphic and font, infusing both with art and dusting culture across urban grit.

Among other things, a writer tags a wall or train to record his or her presence in the world and that particular corner of it. With these “Mountain Tags” I realized I was doing something similar but with a twist: recording my presence in or experience of a landscape of my imagining. Both modes of expression recognize valuing a disciplined refinement of one’s vocabulary and the humanizing worth of including that process in the public square.

So this post reveals an evolution of new vocabulary designed to read as a sign, a signifier, a refined, Romantic tag: “Mountain.”

The above images are an unedited sequence of this endeavor to date. The 32nd attempt - which I published previously as “premise en scène” - was the initial mountain painting that in some ineffable way satisfied my desire. But that’s just me, you, of course, are free to determine your own peak experience.

Posted by mark at August 17, 2006 05:27 PM

I am a frequent viewer of your website. After I saw your recent postings of the "Mountains" I feel compelled to tell you how excited I am to see landscapes and nature entering into your paintings. I especially like images #1 and #11 on your 8/17 post. I'm looking forward to seeing your new work as you "stretch it, inhabit it, move beyond it, eradicate it and start again."

Posted by: Jay at August 22, 2006 11:58 PM

WOW! I admire your Process Post: Mountain Tags, your posting for August 17. The creativity and vibrancy of the paintings is a delight to the eye.

Posted by: skr at August 30, 2006 08:54 AM