Category Archives: Image of the Week

Wandering in Cubism with a straight edge and some jars

I came across Picasso drawings such as the 1912 head of a man shown below. I realized that all the lines could be done with a straight edge and curved objects; without any free-hand drawing. I began experimenting. Some preliminary results below. The shading, for me, has proved the greater challenge, and it will be seen that I have tried various approaches.

I have come to think that my artmaking (as well as my writing) is quite involved—in these lonely times!—with a search for people with whom to talk intimately or imaginatively—free-handledly! People who might understand me a little and wish themselves to be a little understood. (Btw: One may think similarly of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and letter writing.)

From this perspective, it might be said that this post is curious to hear of others who may also be exploring Cubist techniques. And these Cubist-ish figures are among my many new friends!

A shout out to the models/artists, from I Shot Myself, ISM: Ann H, Anna and Eva M.

William Eaton. (Among my many essays on Dickinson: Dickinson’s Dying Tiger.)


Picasso, Head of a Man, MET
Picasso, Head of a man, 1912, now in the MET collection


AnalyCubeFun 1 (Anna, ISM), by William Eaton, 2021


AnalyCubeFun 4 (Eva M, ISM), by William Eaton, 2021

In these days of rage

Days of rage, watercolor by William Eaton, June 2020I like to say that drawing/painting is a dialogue with the model, and not only with her or him (or with a still life or landscape), but also with the lighting, the materials at one’s disposal, feelings pulsing in the artist’s and the model’s subconscious, the weather and politics outside, etc. The whole gestalt. (And may I underscore in these days of doctors and of fury, that the hard part about dialogue is not the talking; it’s the listening.)

These are the sorts of thing I like to say! But how often do I even come close to such ideals? Never mind in talking with a sort of partner the other evening, but . . . How often is my art work rather a series of haphazard events piled one on top of another, so that, for example, a bunch of red paint catches my eye, and then there’s a splotch on the paper I have to work around, and the coffee pot is whistling from the kitchen, a certain marker is near at hand, the paper gets too wet and tears, tears, and . . . good things (or bad) end up happening.

However, this watercolor (or perhaps gouache) of a red woman might be said to be what I’m after. The wonderful and creative model for the painting, Dominique, can indeed arch her back quite dramatically, but the buttocks and breasts here are from another realm, and the head here is headed toward a non-human one. But! Her pose (and perhaps her mood? I don’t know), and the dish of red paint that called out to me, and the politics of the previous weeks—the murder of George Floyd by the police, the video of the murder, and the subsequent (understandably!) angry protests . . . they came together on my piece of paper. What I like especially, besides all the red, is the way some Dominique doppelganger, and especially her left fist, seems trapped or encased within the black lines.

Another thing I like, and keep coming back to, is the French expression “bête comme un peintre”: dumb as a painter. It is pejorative, except I embrace it, in the sense that, unlike in writing, one can paint without thinking, and in this way say loudly what you have to say!

Initially, “cleverly,” I titled the piece in my trilingual way “Color, calor, colère”: Color, heat, anger. But then I realized the better title was “Days of rage.”

— Text and image/painting by William Eaton

New work, finally!

It’s not that during the pandemic I haven’t been making art. Quite the opposite. Painting, painting, painting! And just now finding a moment to stop, catch my breath, post a few images of the recent stuff. Some of the new I put in the “slider,” for viewing tout de suite. A few more images here below. This is hardly scratching the surface of all the work I’ve been doing. I hope to be able to post more soon. With best wishes to all, William Eaton

 

Turris, da Roma, I, by William Eaton, May 2020

 

Maria, portrait, May 2020, by William Eaton

 

Dominique et Bau, watercolor by William Eaton, May 2020

 

Amelia, watercolor by William Eaton, May 2020

 

Make lines, lots of lines

Charcoal, face behind torso, by William Eaton, Nov 2019Make lines, lots of lines

Notes for Poem #3 on Contemporary Art

Peu de temps avant sa mort, Degas étant allé rendre visite à Ingres, celui-ci lui dit en matière de vade-mecum : « Faites des lignes et des lignes d’après nature ou de mémoire et vous deviendrez un bon artiste. »
 — Henri Hertz, Degas : Art et esthétique (Paris: F. Alcan, 1920)

Make lines Ingres is said to have said to the young Edgar de Gas, before he repositioned his name. Make lines, young man, lots of lines, from your memory, from your life, you will become a good painter. But if, I am thinking, chaining my bike to a parking sign outside a New York art gallery, I read in a magazine that the contemporary art market is dominated by about 150

very rich people, advised, guided, channeled, befriended, hustled by not all that many art professionals with degrees from places like Harvard; though more important than their degrees are their connections and talents for befriending, et al., and for knowing when to compromise and how to build on and feed off consensus, plus how to help rich people launder

assets, avoid taxes and protect against inflation. You have to think that the situation is not all that different from what it was in past centuries. (Not the Impressionists again! Nor, say, Victor Choquet, or starting with Victor Choquet and ending perhaps around Leo Castelli? Or Alfred Barr, the Rockefellers and the CIA?) But you want to know: Is there some question in

Charcoal, top contra middle, by William Eaton, Nov 2019here about art? What questions would be worth asking? In another poem I asked, if we accept how much is pre-scripted, whatever would we say? Now I would ask, if an artist or group of artists could arise – artists who had, above all, their own independent ways and a small group of friends and collectors such as the low-paid customs officer Victor Choquet or like the weal-

thy independent painter Gustave Caillebotte who ended up struggling to give the French state the Impressionist paintings that now help the French tourism industry make millions. Would there be a way for the work of such contemporary artists to be recognized, not as interesting minor or outsider art, but upsetting the whole golden apple cart, a revaluation of all values, a

Nietzschean could call it, and a Marxist can say that all this depends on there being changes in economic relations. Nobody can be waiting for the final withering away of all governments, but how about “a rebirth of wonder,” as Lawrence Ferlinghetti proposed in the 1950s? I’m not holding my breath. Faites des lignes, Ingres said, beaucoup de lignes. Make lines, lots of lines.

— Poem and drawing by William Eaton

On Gauguin being chased from museums for being a savage person and having said and done savage things

On Gauguin being chased from museums, poem and painting by William Eaton, 2019


The inspiration for this piece? See Farah Nayeri’s November 18, 2019, New York Times piece: Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?

For those wishing to read the text of the poem without all the colors intervening . . . here ’tis:

On Gauguin being chased from museums
for being a savage person and having
said and done savage things

Let those sans sin, one might reply,
Yet what’s so special about our times
(Though, at least in this, not special – sigh)
Is how many now loudly cry
(And not just great sisters and mothers) –
We’re not savage like those others!
Who we shun or, better, expose
Those humans painting too unclothed!
And saying, doing, quite savage things.
While we, the pure, accusations sling!

Also,

The French editorial cartoonist Xavier Gorce has, in his own way, weighed in on this subject:

Xavier Gorce, à propos de l'art et le political correctness

My secret dream of learning how to draw

Boots, yellow crotch, yellow heart - watercolor by William Eaton, 2019from an e-mail to a fellow artist

. . . I wanted to say a hair more about my “secret dream” of learning how to draw. What I meant was this. Some people, much as many artists long ago, first seek to learn some set idea of the basics before they try to make art. For example, French art students used to have to work years with plaster casts before they got to draw from live models. But I . . . we . . . For one, we don’t know what the “basics” are any more. Perhaps the most basic and hardest thing is learning how to let one’s heart lose on the paper? And how do you learn that?

— Text and watercolor by William Eaton

N.B. It might be said that Robert Browning got here first, in his Fra Lippo Lippi“:

Faces, arms, legs, and bodies like the true
As much as pea and pea! it’s devil’s-game!
Your business is not to catch men with show,
With homage to the perishable clay,
But lift them over it, ignore it all,
Make them forget there’s such a thing as flesh.
Your business is to paint the souls of men—
Man’s soul, and it’s a fire, smoke . . . no, it’s not . . .
It’s vapour done up like a new-born babe—
(In that shape when you die it leaves your mouth)
It’s . . . well, what matters talking, it’s the soul!
Give us no more of body than shows soul!