From Colorado

 

I am currently in Colorado, in my home town, in the house I grew up in, staying with my brother. (His name is Dennis but as a kid he got the nickname Smokey).  If I said  this place, this town, this house are the source of who I am it wouldn’t be completely right, but there is definitely a lot of truth in it.

The Wilson Family, 2013

The Wilson Family, 2013

 

Storm clouds coming in from the East, 6/23/2015

Storm clouds coming in from the East, 6/23/2015

Below is a new ceramic earthenware, painted first with underglaze, which faded dramatically when it was fired the 2nd time. Much more than the first two. So I took it home and painted it with oil paints. I prefer it over the underglazing.

The Impostor         ceramic painted with oils

The Impostor
ceramic painted with oils

This is a Don Quixote, but not in the “normal,” sense – notice the Dandy-ish hat. This is the Don Quixote who appeared in the illegitimate “Part 2” of Don Quixote of LaMancha, which was not written by Cervantes. After the popular reception of the original book, some scoundrel wrote a sequel pretending that it was written by the original author. Well, Cervantes did write a Part 2, in which Don Quixote meets the  impostor in a tavern and confronts him, forcing him to admit to his fraud.

 

This  is the drawing that was the basis for the three recent ceramic pieces:

Dandy Drawing, 2015

Dandy Drawing, 2015

 

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I’m back

Here I am again. It’s been a busy spring and I have not been able to sit down to write. But it’s my job so here goes…

I haven’t left off Don Quixote as a subject, nor have I stopped painting cubistically,

2 at once

although I’ve been told that I am being repetitive, “stuck in a rut,” that it’s “time to move on” and so on. But I don’t see it that way. I have not exhausted the possibilities yet and I keep coming up with new ideas of how to make a new way of presenting this one subject.

ceramic bust1 biscDon Quixote1.3

As an artist I feel required to pursue ideas and images I am compelled to do, regardless of their consequences. In fact I feel it’s an artist’s job to seek out those ideas and images in search of ones that won’t let you go, and to confront them. To wrestle with an image idea, to form it and build it by creating the images that keep coming back; that’s my job. To paint them until I can’t paint them anymore whether it takes three weeks, three months or fifteen years. Then I can move on.

 

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Don Quixote as Hero?

How much of DQ’s timeless appeal has to do with his

self-appointment as hero?

Hopes and Possessions

Hopes and Possessions

I have recently been considering Don Quixote in his role as “Hero”.  How much of his timeless appeal has to do with his self-appointment as hero?

Nobody asked him to “Save” them or to help them at all. The only ones to agree to his offers of assistance are doing it out of curiosity; to appease him, and to see what this odd person will do if given the chance to do his thing. And of course DQ bungles it every time. A mob of devils are merely a herd of sheep, the nobles, squires and princesses are an inn keeper and his wife and guests and of course monsters are only windmills. And DQ and Sancho get their asses kicked.

In the book, DQ takes on the attitudes and demeanor of a hero. His need to portray himself a romantic knight-errant is too great to be supported by the meager facts of his existence. What he sees as threats are delusions and misinterpretations. His response is rarely appropriate to these perceived threats, usually an outsized pouring of self-righteous anger and violence. His weapons are a joke and his armor and defenses are non-existent.

That is how I depicted DQ, setting his eyes looking in different directions to show his split personality, and giving his horse Rocinante an affable indifference to his circumstances.

Green eyes

Green Portrait (detail)

Welcoming Menace

Welcoming Menace (detail, To Have Lived A Madman and To Have Died Sane)

 

With his lance at the ready and his shield in place he assumes the stance of hero, but as we know, he’s not good at it. He is anything but threatening and doesn’t even seem able to protect himself, with his arms wide open in a gesture of welcome as opposed to attack mode.

Yet there is something about heroes in all this that I want to put my finger on. (That’s usually how it is with art: first comes the artwork, after which the meanings reveal themselves.) DQ is not a hero to anyone but himself, no matter how much he has convinced himself that that is who he is: self-definition is not the same as self-actualization. The results of his heroic acts show the farce that he is but he can’t see it.

Don Quixote, "Our Invincible Knight"

“Our Invincible Knight” oil on canvas, 40″ x 30″, 2013

 

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A few of my favorites so far

"Dulcinea, from Don Quixote,

“A Woman Of Interest” 2014, 40’x 30″ acrylic on canvas

Cubist portrait of a man

“Man With A Hat In His Head”
2014, 22″x15″ oil on canvas

 

 

 

 

Don Quixote, "Our Invincible Knight"

“Our Invincible Knight” oil on canvas, 40″ x 30″, 2013

 

 

 

Don Quixote, "When Madness is the Coin"

“When Madness is the Coin” oil on canvas, 24″ x 18″, 2012

Don Quixote, "Cubist Portrait"

“Cubist Portrait” 24″x 18″, oil on canvas, 2013

Don Quixote: To Have Lived A Madman, and To Die Sane

To Have Lived A Madman, and To Die Sane
2014 oil on canvas 40″x 30″

 

 

Don Quixote, "Virtuous Hopes"

“Virtuous Hopes” wood, paper, string, polymer, paintbrush
19″x 14″x 16″ 2014

 

DonQuixote: Hopes and Possessions

“Hopes and Possessions”, 2014
Wood, wire, string, rope, plaster, acrylic paint
27″H x 20″L x 15″W

Don Quixote: Hopes and Possessions

“Hopes and Possessions”, 2014
Wood, wire, string, rope, plaster, acrylic paint
27″H x 20″L x 15″W

"Hopes and Possessions" detail

“Hopes and Possessions” detail

Don Quixote: An Ingenious Gentleman

“An Ingenious Gentleman” wood, paper, polymer, paintbrush
22″x 15″x 14″

Don Quixote: An Ingenious Gentleman

An Ingenious Gentleman
paper, wood, polmer, paintbrush
22″x 16″x 13″

 

 

 

 

 

Don Quixote: An Inventive Victory

An Inventive Victory
wood, paper, plaster, paint
31″x 20″x 16″

Don Quixote: An Inventive Victory

Wood, paper, plaster, acrylic paint
31″x 21″x 16″

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www.michaelbwilson.com

I don’t think I’ve ever said here that my website is: www.michaelbwilson.com.

The difference between the website and this blog is that the blog is for current work and the website is for historical context. Be sure to check it out.

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Carrying On

I keep a file of good quotes I come across, and this is one I return to now and again, attributed to John F Kennedy when he was president:

“The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state … {in} democratic society —  the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.”

When I find myself struggling with issues that all artists face I find that just those four sentences can give me a reason to carry on. Sometimes small reasons are all we need.

I am still not sure if I could articulate what it means for an artist to stay true to themselves. There is more to true to yourself  than just making sure you are doing what you want to do, regardless of falling chips of course, but it is a good place to start. Much about art is all about choice, after all. I can’t point to the first time in my life when I made the choice not to look back from choosing to be an artist, but the choice is made over and over, in decisions big and small.

Speaking of impossible dreams, here are some new Don Quixote sculptures:

Adventuring Knight (left side)

Adventuring Knight               Mixed Media (wood, metal, polymer, paper, paint)               24H” x 9”W x 17”D

This is a reworking of a sculpture I debuted here last spring, I believe. The basic structure is still there, but with a few changes. In particular I felt the front legs were splayed out and stiff and stopped the momentum of the horse and rider.   Compare the new one, left, to the old one…

the old Adventuring Knight

the old Adventuring Knight

Adventuring Knight (detail4)

Bending both legs at the knee, towards the middle, gave it more graceful movement but made it more unstable. It’s now attached to the base but could stand up on it’s own.

Adventuring Knight, 2014 Mixed Media (wood, metal, polymer, paper, paint) 24H” x 9”W x 17”D

Adventuring Knight, 2014
Mixed Media (wood, metal, polymer, paper, paint)
24H” x 9”W x 17”D

Adventuring Knight (detail)

Adventuring Knight (detail)

Adventuring Knight (Rosinante)

Adventuring Knight (detail: Rosinante)

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The sculpture below, “Hopes and Possessions” I updated recently with a new base made specifically to fit horse and rider.

Hopes and Possessions,  2014 Wood, wire, string, rope, plaster, acrylic paint 27"H x 20"L x 15"W

Hopes and Possessions, 2014
Wood, wire, string, rope, plaster, acrylic paint
27″H x 20″L x 15″W

Hopes and Possessions

Hopes and Possessions

Hopes & Posessions (detail base)

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And then there is this little fellow:   “Virtuous Hopes.” The title was taken from a quote from the book … “virtuous hopes are better than wicked possessions”.

He is the smallest of all the sculpture, and he is cute. He is my new favorite.

Virtuous Hopes

Virtuous Hopes,     2014      19″H x 12″ x 17″D       Wood, paper, string, paint, paint brush

Virtuous Hopes 1

Virtuous Hopes, 2014 19″H x 12″ x 17″D Wood, paper, string, paint, paint brush

Virtuous Hopes (left side)

Virtuous Hopes (profile)Virtuous Hopes (torso)

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And the paintings just keep coming:

As True As A Myth  2014 oil on canvas, 40"x 30"

As True As A Myth 2014
oil on canvas, 40″x 30″

To Have Lived A Madman, and To Die Sane 2014 oil on canvas 40"x 30"

To Have Lived A Madman, and To Die Sane
2014 oil on canvas 40″x 30″

“It was his great good fortune to have lived a madman, and to die sane.”

Blue Lance & Shield

“Diligence Is the Mother of Good Fortune” Watercolor on paper 7″x 5″ 2014

Red Polka Pajama Bottoms

“The Talented Pursue The Illusions” watercolor on paper 7″x 5″ 2014

… “Misfortunes always pursue the talented… they pursue the illusions”

What's Done Is Done  2014 watercolor on paper 7"x 5"

What’s Done Is Done 2014
watercolor on paper 7″x 5″

 “What is done is done and so patience, and let it be a lesson for the future.”

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Summer exhibit in Maine

For anyone who finds themselves on the coast of central Maine this summer, please stop by Sam Shaw Jewelry:

http://www.shawjewelry.com/exhibitions/2014/exhibitions_8_14.html

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