Category Archives: bell poems

Orientation

"Bell Poem No. 6 (Pursuit of the Deep)" - Carraher 2020

Bell Poem No. 6 (Pursuit of the Deep)
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 20 in.

Sometimes a painting works for me in more than one orientation.  Maybe I’m not supposed to admit that.  And usually I note no such ambiguity – there’s one way, and it’s the right way.  But sometimes, a work speaks one universe one way, and another universe another way, and I feel them both deeply.  So then there’s nothing to decide for me, and a painting, like this one, might sit in the studio for months before I make up my mind, sign it, varnish it, and put it away.  Or, like with this one, I may ultimately instead decide, fuck it, both orientations are meaningful to me, and I’m fine with the viewer deciding which they prefer.  Truly.  I’m fine with it. 

"Bell Poem No. 6 (Pursuit of the Deep)" - Carraher 2020

So…done.  I signed it with a small crescent mark I sometimes use that can survive any orientation, varnished it, and was able finally to put it away.

Same thing with this piece done around the same time:

Bell Poem No. 5
2020.  Acrylic on canvas. 20 x 10 in.

This vertical orientation still has the strongest appeal for me, but I just haven’t been able to shake my intrigue with the sort of metaphysical tablet that appears when it’s oriented horizontally:

I’m not sure anyone else would share my fascination, but…so be it.   Many things in life can be viewed from more than one direction, and still have meaning.  I’m at peace with it.

It Comes Down to This

"Bell Poem No. 10" - Carraher 2020

Bell Poem No. 10
2020.  Acrylic on canvas. 10 x 20 in.

My paintings are getting simpler, simpler, simpler.  By which I mean stripped down to nothing but what I see as the only essential elements, even when that’s very few elements indeed.

I have my moments of unease about this, where I am subject to the siren song of cultural notions of what a painting ought to be.  I am of course not alone in this species of doubt; most artists at one time or another wrestle with their own variation on this question.  And if the gods are with them, they ultimately or perhaps repeatedly reject it and ride forward into the scary isolation of authentic work.

But most of the time, I just know when a work satisfies me.  And at that moment I’m done with the painting, and with the doubt.

So it comes down to this, Bell Poem No. 10, my offering on this most momentous day.

bell poems

"Bell Poem No. 7" - Carraher 2020

Bell Poem No. 7
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 10 in.

So yes:  “bell poems”.  When I started creating these canvases a couple months ago I wasn’t sure where they were going, and I’m still not, but the thought of them as bell poems has persisted.  So now they have titles. 

What do they have in common?  They all start as big calligraphic gestures in black on white.  Some then gain another color, and maybe some more white or black.  All on 10 x 20-inch canvases – some horizontal, some vertical.  This was the first: 

"Bell Poem No. 1 (Headlong)" - Carraher 2020

Bell Poem No. 1 (Headlong)
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 20 in. 

Pursuit of the Sun

"Pursuit of the Sun" - Carraher 2020Pursuit of the Sun
2020.  Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 20 in.

From late July, before I went away.  Another of the “bell poems”.  I’ve developed several of these works now, but I’m still not sure if they constitute a collection.  At the same time I’m also working on some square canvases with the same large black calligraphic gestures, but those seem to be going in a different direction.  So…still in exploration mode.

New Work

New work:

Bell Poem Gold Carraher 2020

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 10 in.  I’ve done several in this vein now.  They all start with a big calligraphic gesture in black on white.  This one stopped there:

Bell Poem B and W Carraher 2020

I’m thinking of them as “bell poems”.  But we’ll see.  Stay tuned.