Monday, October 12, 2009

Whenever I'm idly casting about for some color ideas, I pick up the giant book my friend Mark gave me on Richard Diebenkorn by Gerald Norland. Sometimes I think you feel some pressure to have your artistic style solidify and not shift too often, so it's reassuring to trace the path of Diebenkorn's career as he begins with non-figurative work, moves to figurative, and then back to non-figurative, all the while both assimilating and responding to what he was learning about the painters he admired -- Cezanne, Matisse, Rothko, Mondrian.

I even found an excuse in the book for my awkward figur
es -- here's Diebenkorn on Hopper:

Hopper was a little more rough-hewn an
d cruder than I once thought and his figures are as awkward as the devil. But of course their awkwardness is their strength. . . . I would never consciously trade awkwardness for elegance. . .(p. 258, Diebenkorn by Norland)

Above is Summer Evening.

Below is Diebenkorn's Girl on a Terrace. Struck by the undefined
features, the artist's lack of concern with perfect rendering of features and interest in creating a mood instead, the way he plays with the depth and perspective, and how it somehow coheres. He says (elsewhere in the

In a (successful) painting everything is integr
al -- all the parts belong to the whole. If you remove an aspect or element you are removing its wholeness.

Diebenkorn's not interested in further defining her features, doing anything more with those hands -- but there's a mood in her gaze off the terrace and a sense of her connection to the space she's in. I like his feeling for geometry with that blue criss-cross chair, that line leading out diagonally to the horizon and that circular table that's not a full circle since part of the shape extends beyond the picture. It doesn't really bother me that I don't know what that is near her head. Does it bother you?

Ocean Park No. 30, painted in 1970:

So now I am off to look for coherence. Here's my homage to Diebenkorn called Back of the Herald.


  1. Hi Suzanne,
    Wow to you too! I am so glad we will be meeting later this week! You sound like a kindred spirit. I lived in LA too and have also worked in healthcare. PLUS- a huge love of reading and a minor in English.
    Look forward to connecting! Great Blog!

  2. Thanks for your comments, Susan. When I see you I'd like to hear about your lecture series.