October 29, 2010

the wrinkled old woman and some words from Robert Bly


“My main thought is that we, being so worldly, so informed, so flooded with motifs from the past, find it more and more difficult to allow any object, whether a snowstorm or a toad or a painting, to… reach the soul.

“The job of the writer [or the painter!] …is to give us a frog or a giant or a snowstorm and to protect it from all the invisible forces that want to delay it, elaborate it, relate it to correct opinions, prevent it from arriving at the soul…

…we recognize that Rembrandt is able to bring the wrinkled face of an old woman right up to our soul.”

Robert Bly from his introduction to “The Best American Poetry 1999”


October 21, 2010

brothers no. 3


brothers no. 3, originally uploaded by Mark Horst.

October 8, 2010

strategies for wrecking paintings no. 3

There are lots of ways to keep a painting from getting overly teachy. Mediocre painting tries to say too much, leaves no room for the eye to move. And so when I see the teacher getting the upper hand as a painting is developing I think about doing something bad.

Francis Bacon used to throw paint at his paintings, just to see how something completely accidental might improve things. I prefer painting outside the lines: letting the brush have some freedom, letting it dance around the canvas. That beautiful green on the door frame is also right up there next to an eye brow and there under the chin. Why not. Here's a painting where the brush did it's dance:




















Here's a painting by Ann Gale--whose paintings remind me of the Swiss painter, Giacometti:

too much beauty

This week I've been soaking up a benediction from Mary Oliver:


When loneliness comes stalking, go onto the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle and the wind.

Mary Oliver
excerpted from “flare"


I love the idea of being "green" like the "diligent leaves" and "untidy" in exuberance. Tidiness does take the edge off exuberance, doesn't it? 
But what really hits me here, right now, is the idea that:
"A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world AND the responsibilities of your life." 
Life's responsibilities will muscle pretty much everything else out of their way--if you give them too much attention. I've done that for long enough.

about me

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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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