Am I mad or am I mad? (answer silently to yourself!) OK, now that THAT’s settled, let me explain.

Crazy Mad

This is about painting with oils.

I have made a few fussy paintings of things (peanut butter, a dog, a balustrade) trying to get them to look like things, AND I made a few paintings of things that were hard to tell that they were things (nines) AND I had fun with a safe and likeable single color scheme (good gulf blues) but then I thought I just needed to pile it on thick and scrape through the paint and mess around with the paint quality and texture.  So I started just slathering the canvas with a palette knife loaded with red. And, well, the rest is all there in front of us for all the world to see.

Do I “like” it? Well, maybe not a lot, but its presence means something, if nothing else it means I DID something. It’s totally exploratory. It looks like I’m a tortured soul, but (in keeping true to the 30-in-30 process) I shall just wince and put it out there. It paves the way for me. It gives me permission to decide something, though I’m not sure what and I’m not sure I want to know what at this point.

Below, in bold, (and I cannot vouch for its authenticity) I copied a post I saw first thing this morning – before I even had a cup of coffee – on a site about TAB teaching (Teaching for Artistic Behavior).  It seemed so apropos at the time. Diebenkorn might be pleased that, already, I want to carefully and perversely move beyond even his pieces of “wisdom.”

Richard Diebenkorn

On Beginning a Painting: 

The following list was found among the papers of the painter Richard Diebenkorn after his death in 1993. Spelling and capitalization are as in the original. (Via Terry Teachout.)

Notes to myself on beginning a painting

1. attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.

2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued — except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. Dont “discover” a subject — of any kind.

6. Somehow don’t be bored — but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.

7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.

8. Keep thinking about Polyanna.

9. Tolerate chaos.

10. Be careful only in a perverse way.


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