Tuesday, May 13, 2008

slow paint

I spend so much time trying to be a faster artist that I often forget the raw joy of paint that made me want to be an artist in the first place. Quite often paint is a frustrating thing; a temperamental, uncooperative partner as unreliable as the weather, ever in the way of me reaching a deadline.

It seemed paint and I had reached the end of our love affair for good. But I had a resurgence of affection when I was on the mend with my hand, when my work was put off and I was able to play again the way I used to. It turns out paint is just a fickle lover who won't put up with rushed liaisons. Getting along with it requires time, patience, and intense courtship.

I try to keep this in mind now that I'm back to deadlines. James Elkins in his book What Painting Is, reminds me:

Paint records the most delicate gesture and the most tense. It tells whether the painter sat or stood or crouched in front of the canvas. Paint is a cast made of the painter's movements, a portrait of the painter's body and thoughts. The muddy moods of oil paints are the painter's muddy humors, and it's brilliant transformations are the painter's unexpected discoveries. Painting is an unspoken and largely unrecognized diaglogue, where paint speaks silently in masses and colors and the artist responds in moods. All those meanings are intact in the paintins that hang in museums: they preserve the memory of the tired bodies that made them, the quick jabs, the exhausted truces, the careful nourishing gestures. Painters can sense those motions in the paint even before they notice what the paintings are about. Paint is water and stone, and it is also liquid thought.

A master paint lover, Rembrandt:

1 comment:

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'm so glad to hear you're not giving up your painting. I love your art.

I have to say I sometimes feel almost the same way about words and writing as you do about paint.