Painting resists photography

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”

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?

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.

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”

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

On Cezanne

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”

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”

Notes on the Sources of Art

This piece, a cross-post from Horizons of Significance, has grown during the writing, pushed ahead by the ambition of its title, only slightly modified by the insertion of the word “Notes…” I’m resisting the urge to break it up into my customary 1,500 words. I need to break that habit as much as we allContinue reading “Notes on the Sources of Art”

“There’s a dimension we don’t understand…”

“There’s a dimension that we don’t understand. In other words, if you have a landscape or an interior you have space. You can deal with it in terms of image or what-not. But you can’t really understand what paint is doing. Paint is doing something that you ask it to do in order to getContinue reading ““There’s a dimension we don’t understand…””

On Painting

Another cross-post from Horizons of Significance, Notes to a fellow painter, I’ve been thinking about your paintings and what you wrote about them. Part of the reason I’ve waited to respond has been wanting time for my thoughts to percolate. It’s so good that you’re painting. Carving the time and dealing with the logistics. That’sContinue reading “On Painting”