David Hockney works like a writer

We just spent a few days in the San Francisco area and a highlight was seeing the David Hockney: a Bigger Exhibition at the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park. The exhibit is so large it takes two floors of the museum to show it.

Hockney Trees

Gorgeous Hockney Trees

To me Hockney seems to work like a dedicated writer. He always has his ass in the chair or his feet on the floor with paintbrush, charcoals, computer, iPad, iPhone or video camera in his hands. Yes, he works in all those media never too old, though born in 1937, to learn and use the new technology.

David Hockney, Woldgate, 67 February, from The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen). Charcoal on paper. 22 5/8 x 30 1/4 in. © 2013 David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney, Woldgate, 67 February, from The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen). Charcoal on paper. 22 5/8 x 30 1/4 in. © 2013 David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt

What impressed me is that he paints and draws and makes art as a writer writes everyday. We saw paintings that he created only one month before we were there to see the exhibit huge portraits. And while I don’t especially like his portraits I like the bright colors he uses primary blues, reds, yellows, oranges. We also saw a series of charcoal drawings he made in 2012 and 2013 in East Yorkshire, England at Woldgate. Each drawing took one to two days to produce.

According to the museum’s description:

In East Yorkshire, England, in October 2012, David Hockney began to draw with charcoal on paper, and worked intensively in this medium for several months. His bedroom in Bridlington, with north-facing windows, became his studio where he depicted close friends, family members, and longtime colleagues. These highly detailed and tender portraits were drawn from life, and each was completed over the course of one or two days.

“In January 2013 Hockney took advantage of another opportunity to depict the arrival of spring while continuing to work with charcoal. He revisited many of the locations he had drawn on his iPad for The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven). The 25 drawings in the new series, The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen), portray five locations, each created at five different stages that show “the bleakness of the winter and its exciting transformation to the summer.”

“Back in California in early summer, Hockney made high-resolution photographs of the twenty-five drawings. Continuing to expand the possibilities of the ink-jet printer, he reproduced each at four times its original size.

Hockney also is a master at watercolors and oils. He paints huge landscapes in different styles, sometimes putting together small canvases or sheets of watercolor paper to make the whole. And he has gone on from merely painting to making landscapes with multiple video cameras to show the passage of time at his many locations.

I encourage all of my writing friends to see this spectacular exhibit. I think you’ll be inspired by the quality and quantity of his work and how dedicated he is to his craft. As a result of seeing how he created a painting of a bowl of peaches on his iPhone from plain light-colored balls in a pure white-pedestalled bowl to  real-looking fruit and bowl with all the shadings and gradations filled in, I’m anxious to try using the brush application on my computer and other electronic devices to see what I can produce. It reminded me of our writing revision process how we writers make revision upon revision of our work until there is nothing left to do.


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