Anyone who really wants to paint usually has something to say worth saying using this visual language. Our task is to figure out the tangle of possibility that leads to speaking the truth. At some level it concerns the rudimentary— how to make a cylinder look rounded or how to mix purple. These skills, however, do not necessarily reveal truth. They often prop up the humdrum, the unoriginal, the “who cares?” As Matisse said: “Exactitude is not truth.”
Yet without them where do we begin? How do we jump in the pool of creativity without knowing the strokes? How do we reach toward the discovery of one’s own veracity? These are the questions we seek to answer. There are no lessons for that. The best we can do is to create an environment that makes the journey as relaxed and revealing as possible. We work to clear the brambles and the cobwebs so the mark we make can be trusted. We connect to the larger subject, be that an object or an idea or both. We balance the skill we have and those we learn with authenticity. We struggle to keep the “cart before the horse” as we careen down the path learning basics while we keep the greater goal of vision.
It is universally agreed that authenticity is what makes a work of art speak. It’s what makes a painting stop a viewer and causes a stir in the solar plexus. Why aspire to anything less? As everyone’s truth is different, discovering one’s own is what the journey is about. “Truth is so excellent that if it praises but small things, they become noble.” Leonardo da Vinci.
So as we struggle to make the leg bone look connected to ankle bone, etc., the important thing to strive for is keeping the artist (you) connected to the bigger vision. As I have repeated many times before and will repeat again, remember the Martha Graham quote: “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it! It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
So as you approach your subject this week, open the door for the critic, the judge the ego and firmly kick them out of the way and connect directly, clearly and completely. That’s the focus this week (and all weeks).
Well said! I have that Martha Graham quote posted on the wall in my studio.