I may not care much for Jim Carrey's paintings, but I love what he has to say about the creative life.
"I love being alive, and the art is evidence of that."
“The earth remains forever,
the eye never has enough of seeing.”
Just the other day I learned that all the blood in your body filters through your eyeballs every three hours. Why? The UV rays in sunlight kill pathogens that otherwise continue to cycle around in your bloodstream, leaving your body to find another way to rid itself of them. Crazy, right? The human body is just so amazing. The line above is a line that I've always inscribed on the back of all my paintings -- with the exception of the 4x4's because they don't allow enough space. I started doing this all the way back in high school. At the time I had my reasons, but now I continue to write this quotation more as a riddle and a tease, to both myself and others. This fact about eyeballs, blood, and sunlight though...it occurred to me that it's part of the mystery of this riddle, one of the many reasons renewed truth and vitality is being found in ancient wisdom and spiritual text through science. Seeing -- looking at the world, the earth, its woods and waters and sunlight, looking at it through our eyeballs, the physical act of seeing -- is a vital act. Now when I inscribe these words on my paintings I will smile at the wonder of it, at the wonder of what it is to be in this body and to see through these eyes.
“A painter should have a clear mind and a strait eye.”
– Josef Albers
It is the love that comes through when the mind gets out of the way....
Do not make a picture of something. Make something. It is not the something, it is the looking. Painting is looking slowed down....
Paintings are not finished, they are stopped....
When working from life you take a fragment of the world then attempt to make it whole by making sense of the loose ends left when it was torn from the world....
Having painted awhile there is more to unlearn than to learn....
What is created is the real thing. The rest is the world. What is a picture of the world? Nothing.
Christ Vernoff delivers one of my favorite butt-kicking inspirational talks for artists. Her message pairs nicely with this quotation from Cheryl Strayed:
“Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”
13. No good life is possible unless it is organized around a vocation. If you try to use your work to serve yourself, you’ll find your ambitions and expectations will forever run ahead and you’ll never be satisfied. If you try to serve the community, you’ll always wonder if people appreciate you enough. But if you serve work that is intrinsically compelling and focus just on being excellent at that, you will wind up serving yourself and the community obliquely. A vocation is not found by looking within and finding your passion. It is found by looking without and asking what life is asking of us. What problem is addressed by an activity you intrinsically enjoy?
From The Road to Character by David Brooks
No good life is possible unless it is organized around a vocation. If you try to use your work to serve yourself, you’ll find your ambitions and expectations will forever run ahead and you’ll never be satisfied. If you try to serve the community, you’ll always wonder if people appreciate you enough. But if you serve work that is intrinsically compelling and focus just on being excellent at that, you will wind up serving yourself and the community obliquely. A vocation is not found by looking within and finding your passion. It is found by looking without and asking what life is asking of us. What problem is addressed by an activity you intrinsically enjoy?
This is a 4" x 4" painting of my friend Margaret working in her studio; it was commissioned by her boyfriend as a gift to her. We both appreciate that she is an artist truly pursueing her vocation. She serves her work. As a result she gets to make a living as an artist and serve the world with surprise and beauty.
The quotation of the week from Painting: The Power of Observation:
What does it mean, "abstract" ? Does it mean to abstract from something— to start with an image and transform it into essentials, like Mondrian’s tree series? Maybe it means some kind of freedom from the image so we can get directly to the serious part and not get lost in apples or nipples. Maybe it means the big idea itself— painting as physics or philosophy. Maybe it means to be purified or to be closer to concrete essences. Maybe it’s a formal design strategy with invented rules, a graphing or charting of information. There is no guarantee of freedom in abstraction ... The painter Max Gimblett says "The impulse moves between the instant and the gradual... In alertness and attention. In silence with the paint. Painting is inherently mysterious, it’s a state of being where there is no recognizable ‘Mind’..."
From Everything is Finished Nothing is Dead, an article on abstract painting by Chris Martin
Three paintings by Emil Robinson, whose work I've been looking at over the past few days:
"Try to forget what objects you have before you — a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, ‘here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow’, and paint it just as it appears, the exact color and shape."
Here are three paintings I've been looking at this week (clicking on an image will take you to the artist's website):
Remember that a picture, before being a battlefield, a naked woman, or some sort of narrative, is basically a flat surface covered with paints put together in a certain order.
I've recently discovered the work of Jen Clausen and enjoy how you can see these words from Denis in her paintings.