The pandemic has become my nemesis. No, I don’t have COVID. Thank God. The reason I don’t have COVID is that I am in this house nearly every minute of every day. I take no chances, because I am one of the old ones, as we all know.
Moving on, it has become more and more apparent that I need something to do. My next novel has stalled, probably because I am stressed. We are all stressed, for God’s sake. So writing is just not something I want to do. Hell, blogging isn’t even something I want to do.
I needed to broaden something other than my waist. I need to expand my mind. I like art. I do some sort of art. Heck, I have even SOLD some of my art. So, I thought to myself, why not learn more about art? Maybe become a bit more skilled at it? I looked around online for free courses, and I found this one: POSTWAR ABSTRACT PAINTING. It had to be excellent, because it is put on by MOMA, and I love MOMA. I go there whenever I am in New York. Since I am not good at representational drawing, have no idea how perspective works (therefore all my drawings are one dimensional), and I use my finger to draw, this looked like it would be right up my alley.
I have heard of Willem de Kooning. Who hasn’t? Right, and Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollack. So this would be familiar territory. I thought.
The first lecture was a video about the New School that lasted one hour and forty minutes, I think it was. Not the school–the lecture. I dutifully watched the whole thing. It was very detailed. Erudite. Boring. It covered things that I did not know, and actually, I was surprised at most of it. These artists, who many still think just threw paint all over the canvas or drew perfect red squares that somehow ended up in famous museums, actually had a deep philosophy and need to express their existential theories on canvas. They were dead serious, most of them tremendous intellects, and they all lived in Greenwich Village and went to one another’s houses to talk art. They also had a club where they met and talked art. I think they all drank a lot, and if drugs were involved, I wouldn’t be surprised.
My eyes and ears glazed over during the first “lecture,” but I remained aware enough to pass the first quiz with a 90%. I was proud of myself. However, at the onset of the second “lecture” and accompanying videos, I realized that this course was dead serious, and the other students commenting on the art used to illustrate the points being made about the society at the time, the cultural shift that was occurring after the Second World War, and some other stuff–these comments were deep. The first slide asked how standing in front of a work of Barnett Newman affected one. The comments were wide and varied.
My comment was: “I have never stood in front of a work by Barnett Newman.”
Perhaps I was in the wrong class. I scrolled through a few more comments, and then moved on to the next lecture. It was about how to set up one’s studio, how to stretch a canvas, and the importance of semi-viscous media. Since I draw on my iPhone with my finger, I skipped that segment.
By the time I got to the third module, I skipped all of the lectures and went directly to the quiz. Hell, why not? I failed the quiz, so I went back to the lecture. But Vir Heroics Sublimis just looked to me like a big rectangular canvas divided into three sections. They represent the void, I learned. Yup. It looked like a void to me. The more the lecturer talked, the less I listened. I knew how to draw a square using my app and the “ruler” feature. I could bisect it with straight lines using the “grid” feature. It would look just like this Newman work. How much roiling did Newman have to go through to paint this thing? So, my question: Was the emperor wearing clothes or really, was he naked? I voted for naked and dropped the class.
What I really want, I now realize, is a class I can take online to learn how to draw better cats.