Nutt Gallery Notes  #2  Jun'14

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Thinking is fun

Even as a child, I noticed a kind of tickle in my head while drawing. Seeing forms on the paper, their weight, their meaning, their relationships (oh stop). Seeing how all that changed as they were moved. Adding, erasing and on and on until I got tired...  I didn’t know what it was (thinking), but I did know it was Fun. It still is. I'm sixty-three.

Hector finally "gets" minimalist art. Audrey quietly sighs.
Like finger painting (remember that?). It was a dark Kankakee morning. At school, tall windows. It had been raining and it looked like it would rain again. There was low rumbling. The overhead fluorescents were making that awful strobing and humming. But the Artist was at his easel, tempera finger paint in hand (well actually on hands), painting, rubbing the paint around, rubbing it in. And then, suddenly the paint of the painting went in, into, beneath, behind, across. A three dimensional space appeared. But paper is flat, isn’t it?

Connections are made. If I do this thing, I get this result and it’s cool. Then I can do it again. I might get the same result, I might get a different result. That information is useful. I move on to more permutations. Soon, a new three dimensional space is there, but in the mind. A structural result that can be turned and shifted for another result. Yet more information. This can be verified for legitimacy by a critical analysis of contentment. Do I have the right to be happy with this?

The structures have meaning, a kind of code. Symbols making personal and psychological connections. Not just for me, as a human, but for all humans.  We love our world, we try to understand our world. I have curiosity about our world.
"Activity 2" [24x38] Pastel and colored pencil on paper. The world continues to be a busy place. Part of the "Chasing Light" series  ©2013 Randy B. Nutt

"Activity 2"  [24x38] Pastel and colored pencil on paper, mounted on stretched canvas    

The world continues to be a busy place.

Part of the "Chasing Light" series
©2013 Randy B. Nutt

My wife Carol is a tropical biologist. I used to follow her around the rainforest in Mexico while she measured stuff (leaves, flowers, bees, ants, caterpillars). She would call out numbers. I would write the numbers down in small yellow notebooks with a pencil. Pencil lead happens to be waterproof, by the way, which is good, because it rained a lot. Oh, rainforest, I get it! 

Anyway, she took all those numbers and reconstructed a structural space of numbers that recreated the biological space where we were. The animals and plants that lived there. How they lived and how they interacted to survive, hurt, help and defend each other. (In their world which is the same as our world. Which is spinning on its axis at 1500 mph. Which we happen to know because somebody else measured it and wrote it down.) Carol has curiosity about our world, too.

Discovering this world was beautiful, difficult fun. It’s the same with making Pictures. Science and Art are flip sides of the same thing…Thinking.

Thinking can be hard, but everyone can do it. The making of a Picture, for example. "Artist staring at a blank canvas." The grind of the possible permutations in the mind, to the point where the physical act of moving the hand, becomes an impossibility. What is the one correct first statement, decision, move?

I used to plan Pictures in every step. Every final detail had a carefully prescribed rational pathway to achieve the final idea of the Art. I could not start without the plan. The result was pleasing, but static. The work was about its own execution. This particular movement will follow this one which will follow this one...  A well-executed plan can have a startling effect but is there life in it?

Now I don't plan every step ahead of time. You can try it with me. Imagine you are the Artist.

When you have the idea or even the idea of no idea, make a mark, make another mark, then another. Pay attention to the spaces in between. Then another mark. Pretend you are a Child. The relationship of your thoughts will start to focus and (whoa baby!) maybe have meaning. The result is living, alive, dynamic. Maybe not what you thought when you started but that’s all right. There are other days, other pieces of paper. Maybe the new thing is better.
In "Activity 2," part of the "The Chasing Light" series, I had the general idea: lots of interactions. I had my catalogue of Light Shapes for possible reference. I had a beautiful Red that I wanted to feature. So I made a Red mark, the first mark, (you can see it in the lower right of the detail below). As soon as I did that, I started defining the space: the whole space of the paper. So now I’m no longer looking at the Red, but everything that is happening on the paper with the Red.
Light shapes from notebook
Detail from "Activity 2" [24x38] Pastel and colored pencil on paper. The world continues to be a busy place.  Part of the "Chasing Light" series, ©2013 Randy B. Nutt
Then I think to myself, "what is happening here in reality?" I might see the answer on the paper or I might see it in my mind. I make a mark to designate that idea. I look again at the whole space of the paper. Repeat. Each action then implies another action. These combinations multiply around the surface and make the story of the Picture. As the Picture gets bigger the areas within it get smaller.

Each area has its little vignette of lines and shapes that have no pre-determined identity. Yet, they act in ways that are recognizable, realistic or subconscious. I am now part of a drama. I am interacting with these characters, forces, lines and shapes. They are describing their world to me. I continue interacting with them until everything seems right and I'm completely out of my mind, uncontrollable giggling.
"Nay, Nay,"  say the naysayers, "Thinking and having fun? It's highfaluting fancy, elitist. Fun is wasteful. Fun tempts fate. If you're having fun, bad things will happen."  I stand up, astonished at such. "Nay, nay" is an inappropriate response to the presence of the beauty and mystery of existence and of mind and of heart. There is joy in finding (our) connections in the world. We should, we must, act on that.

If meaning has no meaning, if that is its meaning, there are still benefits (philosophical) in the dance of order in your mind, in your heart. Even if it can’t be put into words. That’s perfectly fine, these are Pictures, man. And then, best of all, working hard to have fun is functional because if the process of making art was only agony and no ecstasy, we might stop. We might let somebody else do the thinking for us.

But no, we never stop…

Randy B. Nutt
June 16, 2014

PS - Want to try something weird? Take a Globe (three dimensional model of the Earth) off its stand. Set it down in the living room for about a week. It will drive you nuts but in a good way. Our world.
Preferred art explorer discount for readers of Nutt Gallery Notes. 20% off on your purchase of original artwork at The NuttGallery Shop. Use code: NOTESREADER14. (exp. 12/31/14).
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