The second stage of my painting.
This is when I try to harmonize what is there on the canvas as a result of the first phase that has been generated out of meditation/automatism. In this first phase I expressed my feelings through colors and forms without any intention to imprint a given content. The second phase is all about the derivation of content out of the meditation/automatic expression.
But here again "will" is absent in the sense of "voluntary, intentional, deliberate, willful, willing". Somehow I reach content unconscientiously that means without thought for reaching meaning. I never spent much time looking at Gongbi style paintings while I was in China, such works never attracted me but for some reason that I can't exactly explain the stylistic result of this second phase is paradoxically very much Gongbi-like.
The paint material and the colors applied in the first phase are there on the canvas into abstract forms. In this second phase I follow those abstract forms with a thin brush trying to generate some sensical meaning while eliminating all that makes no sense all that weakens the emerging meaning. For me this is indeed the stage of rendering absolute sense out of abstract forms and colors. It's what Leonardo calls "A way of enhancing and arousing the mind to various inventions. ... if you look at any walls soiled with a variety of stains, or stones with variegated patterns, when you have to invent some location, you will therein be able to see a ressemblance to various landscapes, graced with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, great valleys and hills in many combinations."
In those abstract forms left on walls by stain Leonardo searches for inspiration to realize a subject that he very conscientiously and firmly has imprinted in his spirit before starting his painting. I myself do not plan a subject conscientiously before starting to paint. I just let things unfold. Surely enough when looking at "stains or stones with variegated patterns" or when looking at the colors and lines on the canvas it is my mind that is pulling my eyes into seeing some things and not other things. The mind is always active, if not conscientiously, then unconscientiously and what the eyes retain is basically what the mind gives the eyes to see. In that sense what is important for the artist is what is in his mind. Now we should be conscient that what is in the artist's mind is an input, it was not there originally, it has grown with his life experience. So for an artist, or for whoever for that matter, the quality of the creative output is basically dependant on the quality of his total earlier inputs. In other words knowledge is what gives quality to the creative output of the artist. Sure enough what I'm speaking about here is art in the sense of the creation of visual signs about the worldview that is in the shaping. Without knowledge there is indeed simply no way that the worldview, of the men of knowledge in our society, should be attainable so much less a worldview that is not formed yet that is in the shaping.
This second phase is the moment when my accumulated knowledge is been imprinted on the canvas. My hand follows the existed lines and contours on the canvas following where my spirit is attracted and draws the image that emerges. Drawing or painting are freed from the act itself that is somehow executed automatically and are then absorbing my spirit, my thinking, my dreaming. Now we should be conscient that not everyone can do what I here describe. It's not only a question of the earlier inputs that condition the creative output, it's also a question of technical skills. Someone who has not accumulated sufficient practice in his technical execution will be constrained, will be hindered in the visual representation of his creative output. He will be stuck in the technical rendering of the first idea that passes through his mind and will not be let free to explore further up the unwinding of the thread that this first idea follows in his mind and thus the flow of his creative output will be interrupted. This is when his work becomes fully a work of will that cements in a concrete technical pain.
This Gongbi-like second phase took somewhere between 15 and 40 hours on average for each work of the ARTSENSE series. The work is long, the time is flying and the spirit is floating around the world as if in a real dream. The work is done when the complete canvas has been integrated in the "sense-making story".
Remains then the last phase, the beautifying of the work.
(1) Chinese traditional painting divides into two very different approaches. One could be seen as the artistic form, or should I say the philosophical form, it is called "SHEYI". The other form is a kind of craft for interior decoration, it is called "QONGBI".