Tor, oil on canvas, 72″ x 108″, 1981 Our experience of paintings today tends to be mediated through photography. We rarely stand in front of actual paintings. What we see are images of paintings and what is essential to painting is that its artifacts are physical and in their physicality paintings resist being reduced toContinue reading “Painting resists photography”
Category Archives: Essays
I don’t have to put any thought into driving what my paintings will mean. It’s struck me how true this simple statement is and how much it conveys.
A Painting Is a Presence
A painting is a presence. Not that it has presence, though it does. We’re talking about good paintings, real paintings; whatever any of that might mean, in them presence is an essential quality. Maybe quality isn’t the right word…. Is a being reducible to its qualities? Is presence something beyond quality as well as number?
A Painting is not an Image.
We are swamped by images. This site is full of images. Images of paintings are not paintings. I would say the reverse is also true: Paintings are not images.
Painting is not an additive process
It’s hard talking/writing about painting. Everything about painting is hard, except for the gifts of grace to be found there. I’ve been struggling with how to find a way to talk about pervasive failures in painting that strike me as symptomatic of our time illuminating broader misunderstandings of what it is to be.
Everything is in everything. I’ve come across this statement in Rancière’s Ignorant Schoolmaster. Everything is in everything. It hits home with me as a painter, directly, viscerally. It’s clear when we look at a Cezanne, for example.
Mysterious Foundations of Truth
If the things themselves are holy, it is in the gaps between them, the form of their unstable, shifting relationships from which we uncover the sacred. The details grow to something greater. The mystery of representation is that it can never quite get at the thing itself. The mystery deepens insomuch that, nonetheless, in itsContinue reading “Mysterious Foundations of Truth”
Immersion, Quality, Presence
I don’t have a clue. Ideas are simply starting points. I can rarely set them down as they come to my mind. As soon as I start to work, others well up in my pen. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing… When I find myself facing a blank page,Continue reading “Immersion, Quality, Presence”
On Cezanne, Part II
Cezanne’s early paintings tended to be thick, clotted, muddy. He was pushing to set down so much. More than he had the means to express. His paintings, at times, appeared ugly. And yet, when we look at any of his early work, we cannot deny its expressive qualities. No matter how un-virtuosic his execution, theContinue reading “On Cezanne, Part II”
What Makes it Art? Guston Quotes, Part II
What is seen and called the picture is what remains – an evidence. Even as one travels in painting toward a state of ‘unfreedom’ where only certain things can happen, unaccountably the unknown and free must appear. Philip Guston
What makes it Art, Responding to Philip Guston, Part I
There comes a point when the paint doesn’t feel like paint. I don’t know why. Some mysterious thing happens. I think you have all experienced it… What counts is that the paint should really disappear, otherwise it’s craft. Philip Guston
Painting is hard. Seeing is hard. Finding is hard. Locating where something is, what its shape is, how it fits into its surroundings; all hard. Paint is intractable and totally revealing at the same time. It does not lie. It cannot lie. What is put down will show. But all we need to do isContinue reading “On Cezanne”
A Glimmer of Eternity
Marks & Intention: How the complexity of relationships builds a whole. Every mark made on a canvas is a trace of an intention, volition encoded. Beyond position and value they give clues to direction, velocity, color. No matter how loosely made few marks appear just to have “happened.” Of those, most fail to be recognizable,Continue reading “A Glimmer of Eternity”
Signs and Extended Metaphor
Signs pull apart the totality of perception. Tearing holes in the field of relationships. Stopping the eye and the mind. Forcing a precipitation of some part held in opposition.
The Studio Visit, Shoal Hope
An excerpt from my novel, Shoal Hope: Chapter 21 Albert slaps a quarter down on the counter. Swivels on his stool. A half-chewed toothpick in his mouth. “Thanks!” The soda-man replies, “Thank you!”Crossing a dozen steps to the door and onto the street, “Gotta get Peter to agree.”
Between Wanting and Finding, a Cross-post from Horizons of Significance
There is a point at the start of a painting when there is a precariousness between what the painting “is to be about” and the first touches of what is actually there. Something I’m only arriving at now is that the former, while of great interest and concern at the start, is of no account.Continue reading “Between Wanting and Finding, a Cross-post from Horizons of Significance”
Dwelling and Conviviality in Art
Ivan Illich‘s work turns on two related concepts. One is of our need to dwell, to inhabit a home, to have a place. The other is our need for conviviality. We cannot exist in isolation. We are vulnerable and part of everything as everything is part of us.