August 7, 2013

painting and life no. 2

one of Francis Bacon's screaming popes.

“everything that’s alive is in motion”

Any painting that hopes to bring life to an image must do more that accurately represent a subject. But this idea of motion does not mean that an image cannot be balanced or centered. A spinning top is in motion but it doesn’t wobble until it’s ready to fall.

I’ve had a fondness for paintings that blur an image, but I think it’s a mistake to assume that blurring is the only way to represent the motion that goes with life.

In fact, Francis Bacon’s blurring of faces, seems to me to be something like a top in it’s final rotation. His faces are distortions of life, intimations of anguish or death.

August 5, 2013

all is a procession...

(All is a procession,
The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)

from “I Sing the Body Electric” Walt Whitman

painting and life no. 1

“Everything that’s alive is in motion…”

When painting works, it brings life to an image. When painting fails, it pins an image like a specimen to the canvas.

This is one of the ways I can evaluate my own work: when I sense a presence there… when I see someone looking back at me, when some world begins to breathe…

I love accuracy and precision and care, but without this sense of vital energy a painting fails its most basic assignment.

J. K. Rowling and the commercial side of painting no. 2

"I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience! It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name… And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances." J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling’s experience with her pseudonymous author says something else to me about the commercial side of painting.

One of the things that galleries look for is a recognizable and consistent painterly voice. Often this means that if a gallery brings an artist in as a figure painter, they want the artist to continue painting figures—and these in the manner they’ve come to recognize. This all makes sense from a marketing point of view.

But it can be death to art. So much about art making is playful and exploratory.

So, whether you change your name or not, it’s crucial for the painter to paint as if  she is free of the demands of her painterly identity.

If painting isn’t at least partly about freedom and breathing in the big, spacious, open world, it isn’t worth much.