In praise of paint

part of my stash

Recently,  I went to the opening of an installation/exhibit by a woman who uses insects as her primary medium….. yup, that’s correct.  Insects. See her work and the bugs here. This is not the first time I’ve encountered an artist who uses unconventional materials to construct their work.  But, not in my wildest dreams would it occur to me to start  making some kind of pattern or image using this as a medium.

Which makes me wonder…. what is it that fascinates us as viewers?

So I’ve made a list of things that people seem to find fascinating-even if they know next to nothing about contemporary art.

Obsessive repetition of patterns

Obsessive anything

Unusual materials – in the non-art category- besides bugs…..  old tires, pharmaceuticals, shredded money, and many more

Something people can interact with- or play with (flashing lights and movement are a plus)

Things that are larger than life or overwhelming in some manner (see obsessive above)

Conversely, things that are teenytiny and impossibly detailed.

You can make your own list now.

and I am not slamming people who make work with less than conventional materials.

Only thinking that the materials themselves do not bring value or meaning to the work.

Novelty perhaps, but that’s a pretty fleeting thing.

But…. being someone who has a singular devotion to pigment ground up in oil, I sometimes wonder… How can paint, on a canvas, on a wall ever hope to compete with that?

Should it even try?  Sure it can.

Paint is the faithful dog who is lying by the door to jump up and lick your hand when you return from an exhilarating art “entertainment experience”.

Paint says, “take your time…I’ll be right here… you just sit and look”

The challenge of making an image, comprised of layers of pigment ground in oil, is a task that I will never tire of.

I may tire of the subject or idea I’m pursuing, get frustrated with how long it’s taking me to get to the “point”,  my thinking may get stale and beg for a fresh start …

But this is the central activity in my life that continues to teach me persistence and resilience- over and over.  And, from what I’ve been hearing lately about the way people really succeed –  learning to keep at it, and overcome frustration, and go around the quick fix are all qualities we need to foster in ourselves and our young-uns.  These can be learned with any material- I just choose paint.

evolution of a painting…

another piece that might have seemed finished but really wasn’t.  Moving out of former studio into the one at home, there were bound to be paintings that I hadn’t totally wrapped up, but had to get out of there anyway.  This was one. Rewrites are no problem for me!

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I have been working quite a lot with taking things away, trying to find a balance between the tangled elements and an atmospheric, poetic space that envelopes them.

This also marks the end point of these paintings in some way that I probably don’t yet understand. I can imagine that my palette will become darker. I much prefer richer deeper colors,colors that you can’t quite name- and it’s winter, so airy bright atmospheres feel a bit odd.

But there will now ensue lots of drawing, hopefully some monotypes, and some serious ruminating on all sorts of ideas that will lead to the next batch of work. Whether that’s going to be painting or not- I am open to find out.