Robert Stanley

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Studio Happenings 2004

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Back into it at the studio. Started a 3x4 ft. canvas with random strokes, and began collecting images for use within it. The images are a study done before a workshop I taught at the Purdue North Central Campus ("Poplars and Twig"), and an old study called "Marks."
Start Marks Poplars


Have finished re-working "Painter's Question," ripping off the old central collaged watercolor with its cut out of a seated figure. Now, there's a more mysterious center, an inspiration that came as I was ripping off the old and decided to create layers of glazes and tear-offs. After I had varnished the painting, got another inspiration to add paint remnants to the center of this area. Freshened the dark field surrounding the paint can with Mrs. Cezanne. Allowed some run-through over her portrait. Ripped off the head in the can above. I thought it strange that this painting, completed in 1974, was so easily updated. Then I realized that I had come full spiral, the opposite side of the spiral being the abstract "Boundaries" series of works in the 1980's. Today's works (this side of the spiral) are more dynamic and free--somewhat strange, taking into account the supposed conservatism of age.

8/30 Sketched out thumbnail for the painting started 8/2, with new ideas. Now, I'll use the previously planned "poplars" twig for the AAA print. This, and the other study, "Marks," simply did not grow the painting, so I've started over with new imagery. Selected a slice from a scanner, with part of the lettering visible, and went fishing for other images as I was eating grits in the diner down the street. Tried "scanner" in middle, eggs on left, and angel on right. Five revisions later, I got excited about "scanner" on left (abstracting part of head), eggs on bottom right (sensual experience) and my photo "Gloria Twig" upper center, off to the right. That image is the impetus for the piece. Will juice up the random strokes and washes first.

Printed "Exegesis II" for 61st Salon Exhibit.

Created installation "Remnant Fragments" at LaPrairie.

Started print "Momentary Universe." Knew I was going to use the linocut self portrait that I had done for the triptych with Bocok and Moll, and that I was going to combine it with reaching figure I had made on computer. Have ended up adding several more things, but it has not come together yet.

Repainted part of Falling, to get the water to look more like water. At a crit, no one knew it was water, which shows the importance of context. In the original that I mostly overpainted, this section was beautifully painted water flowing over rocks. Also have been painting, in oil, the figure in Sigma. Like oils for painting figures because their textural livliness represents the human, and they are easier to blend and scrape as I struggle to find the rightness of the person.

The repainting of Falling seems endless. Too blue. Too green. To much glazing. More blue-brown. Flat. Highlights of foam back in. Paint partial rectangle as background. Too cool; water looks weak. Warm up the grays; too distracting. Scrape back to lower layers. Okay, but now the collaged "heaven" section too weighty. Over a period of days scrape this back. Too dull. Add white washes. Finally, I think it is okay, but will have to see it fresh next time I head into the studio.
Still working on figure. He's getting too scary. I'm wondering if preparing for the one-man show in November is too distracting. Had to select works that "hung together," yet showed the many facets of the computer, from stand-alone creation to recycler of drawings for collaging into paintings and prints. Seems coherent now, but cannot find two important drawings which I was able to use in multiple pieces of differing mediums because of the computer.

The print, Momentary Universe, is proceeding. Will have a proof for the group meeting next Tuesday.


Laid out the November one-man show in the halls outside the studio. For the first half hour or so, emotions soared as central pieces came out of the studio, to anchor each of the four "walls" that I had marked off. Pieces ebbed into each other, flowing out to other works. Then the dissatisfaction set in. Not enough pieces. The focuses seemed less interesting. Some of the pieces themselves seemed boring to my helper. After 45 minutes of pulling more pieces from the studio, culling pieces from the prospective exhibit, energy was gone and insight nowhere around. Like a painting gone bad, it was time to go away for a while. I hope a good night's sleep and a fresh perspective will jigger things in place tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I did finish the revision of Falling. I think.

Printed Momentary Universe, in its sixth stage. Finally got the togetherness and separateness in the right balance, both in terms of color and content. Those who saw the linocut black on top of and next to the computer elements said "wow!"
Got the works for the November show picked, arranged, and photographed. Very busy, but I'm not spending much time painting. When The Beacher came by to take a photograph of me at my easel, I felt like I was acting!

Printed A Momentary Glance, something I want to use for my exhibit at the Chesterrton Art Center. I took the photo of A Moment, the fresco, and puttered around with it to make it a print. Since fresco has a different texture than paper, the print got sharper, and some colors became more saturated, so I had to jigger them a bit, to bring the focus to the neutral rock. Been working on framing and preparing for the open studio.
In place of the painting that I miss doing, I've been working for days on a computer print--which I now don't like because it is too contrived. I'm not too worried though; usually such lows/hardships are preparing the ground for a new leap.

Enough of work, serious failures, framing, and all. This piece is what I should have done back in the 1970's, when I first came to Chicago.

Once again back in reality. Preparing 32 works for the November exhibition at the Chesterton Art Center and setting up the studio and surroundings for The Heart of Art tour that happened Oct. 16-17.

Heart of Art visitors

Have also finished the computer piece, "Studio Dream July." Adjusted the field to be more in harmony with the other values, and to be more visible. Toned down the light source. Softened some edges and added some atmospheric perspective to give a sensation of depth while keeping the flatness necessary for the piece to be transcendant of time and space.

And, doing some sketching, as the next creative spurt looms.


The creative spurt sputters and gutters. I've managed to put a little paint down, finding, then losing, then finding a figure in a painting. Then deciding it was wrong the next day. Mostly, however, I've matted and framed and packed and delivered and hung (Crossing the Digital Divide at the Chesterton Art Center). Then I got sick.

Finished Sigma. The original elation I felt in collaging the styrofoam mat changed into a realization that it didn't work, esthetically, intellectually, or emotionally. Ripped it off, and colored the torn remnants. Looked good. One cannot REALLY freeze beauty (torn mat), yet abstract beauty is important (poor, deprived postmodernists).
Many layers of oil paint later (the rest is acrylic), the figure works, being more Rembrandtish than delineated. Discovered this direction as I wiped out one of the many attempts. Once discovered, it was a matter of tightening up the spontaneity, and freeing up the delineation. Took on its own expression, too. Not what I had originally wanted as something somewhat autobiographical, but a real being, whose intentions are as vague to me as to other viewers.

Building up some color on Scanner as I look for a coming together of the elements. Have also started a computer piece called Primavera, which has a face of a young girl I saw, a shell, "Venus" (shot of the moon I'm using as Venus), and a "spy"-type picture of a couple. I think I'll include the twig that looks like it's rejoicing.

Both pieces are in the air, not only in the usual way I begin a piece, but this time because an artist I respect saw a different kind of space in the last computer piece, Studio Dream July. Now I'm wondering what's that all about.

Scanner's color is going in a different direction, and new piece, Some Cosmos, is underway. Both of them refuse to let the technique problem be solved. Scanner wants to be flooded with glazes and Some Cosmos is going to be thick paint, with the three elements relating to this ground. I don't know, nor do I yet want to know, if the space is indeed different. Some Cosmos's elements started with a pieced-together view of Titan. A black, lightly impastoed exploration I had lying around the studio seemed to go with the space view--distant and near, both black. A few days later I knew I wanted to use a blurred man I saw in a photo I took. Getting to the pigment and technique is a known unknown I look forward to, seeing where these elements belong in the scheme of things.


Experimenting with images on the computer. I don't yet know why. I do think I need to do some drawing to get more grounded, perhaps to act as catalyst or focus for what's going on. Some painting on Scanner.

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Painter's Question, acrylic 36 x 46 in.
Remnant Fragments, frame, fragment, poem, column, brick, farm
Falling, old version
Falling, revision, acrylic, 20 x 30 in.
Momentary Universe, 3rd state
Momentary Universe, linocut and computer, 8 x 8 in.
A Momentary Glance, computer, 12 x 12 in.
If I were a Chicago Painter, computer
Studio View July, computer, 12 x 15 in.
Woman Walking, Dark Entryway pencil, 9 x 12 in.
Sigma, acrylic & collage, 48 x 36 in.