Containing A Concept

Kurt Vonnegut on writing:

“The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”

Obviously this applies to painting too, as we have discussed many times. However, as can be witnessed below, effective expression can come about even though the choice of subject was imposed upon reluctant artists. (For those who were not in class, these paintings-still in progress– all originated from the small photocopy on the far right. There was an inordinate amount of whining about this image. Note to self: Ignore Whining.)

The connection to subject is the most important aspect of the painting process. But consider the idea that “connection” can come about without intent. Simply by being present, being open and letting go of control and being willing to experiment and discover the relevance of what is in front of you.

Contemporary art currently champions the cerebral. Concept comes first.  So as we circle the many aspects of painting, this week I am going to suggest a concept to interpret and explore–containment. This means that you choose a subject while considering how the word might be embodied in a two-dimensional visual form. And then go from there.  I’ll show some examples at the beginning of class.  Be imaginative, but be true.

wall.all from one image

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