April 6, 2009

why paint?

My painter friend, Katherine Treffinger, asked me to say something about this question for her blog: “What I am wondering is why do you as an artist show up in front of the canvas? How does just the act of creating art hold enough meaning for you to show up and what is that meaning?”

If there weren’t something that remains hidden from us much of the time, something precious and wild, I don’t suppose I would bother with painting.

I do love paint. I love the smell of the linseed oil and the raw colors squeezed from the tube. And I do love painting: standing before the easel; the open window of a fresh canvas; the first brush stroke of paint dripping and clear; the deliciousness of seeing shapes and patterns and shifts of value and intensity.

But for me painting is—above all—a way of being present. It is the daily practice of paying attention with enough intensity that when the hidden world steps closer, I have a chance of noticing it; so that when the wolf stops to sniff the air outside my window, I can catch a glimpse of her.

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These studio notes are scraps of poetry and ideas that feed my work as a painter. I hope they establish a bit of context for the paintings and my intention in making them. Whatever I paint, I’m trying to create some space for us to sit with the questions that are not meant to be answered.

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