Being the only son of a painter I grew up listening to my father's ideas about the mystical experience of art. As a kid I was bored out of my skull when he would start rambling on and on about art, but as I grew older I realized that pops had given my a pretty good artistic education. I just applied everything he talked about to Jazz music. It would behoove every Jazz musician to take some time to study the writings of the masters. Visual artists often have more developed philosophic concepts about the artistic process. There are many books by painters that have profoundly influenced my concepts of music.
A few of these books are:
Concerning the Spiritual in Art
by Wassily Kandinsky,
Kandinsky: The Art of Abstraction
Here's a note my father sent me about abstract expressionism. Carlos senior could be described as an abstract expressionist painter, so here's what he has to say about one of his favorite painters- Matisse.
"You mentioned being an abstract expressionist player-
So what if a line bleeds through or some canvas shows?
Matisse worked those elements intuitively, brought them along with the rest of the painting.
They had as much rich distilled feeling as anything else in the painting.
Did this make the painting complex? no
Matisse condensed his elements fantastically- some wonderful works are nothing
but a few scratches.
He said that he wanted an art free of all troubling subject matter-
what he really wanted was to be in his oriental paradise, and he did get there.
Imagine decades of that experience of beauty.
He called it in his characteristically concise way- expression.
I can't understand how he was ever recognized-his work is so subtle.
Contemporaries talk of seeing him scrape away works of fantastic beauty- that's not what he was after.
He said that he experienced god at those times when he did something that he was not capable of, but he felt cheated that that was as close as he could come.
I found this Matisse quote-
"Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better."
but you know he got his major jollies when he worked-intuitively.
Maybe he meant something different than it seems.
I think that Matisse followed the sense of what mattered to himself in his art no matter what.
He learned everything he could about painting then simply left himself open to what might happen.
He was suicidal at times in despair over being unable to do what he needed to do. He lived through 2 world wars where artists were starving- but if he could identify with it it stayed in. This can be seen in the work just after the fauvist period. Once that was solidly established, which I believe involved cultivating his nervous system as a tibetan monk would do- through the practice of painting.
He went to the light and ultimately transcended himself.
The matisse flower is actually a tamed demon.