* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
… art is an objective pursuit with the same claim to truth as science, albeit truth of a different order. At the very least the consistency and universality of aesthetic expression throughout history and around the globe suggest that the undertaking that finds its modern formulation in the concept of art is a distinct sphere of activity with its own ontology. My belief is that what the modern West calls art is the direct outcome of a basic human drive, an inborn expressivity that is inextricably bound with the creative imagination. It is less a product of culture than a natural process manifesting through the cultural sphere. One could go so far as to argue that art must exist in order for culture to emerge in the first place.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
Comments are welcome!
Q: Your pastel-on-sandpaper paintings are very labor intensive. Do you typically have just one in progress at any given time?
A: For many years I always worked on one at a time because I have only one or two ideas – never more than that – about what I will make next. Also, I believe that “all art is the result of one’s having gone through an experience to the end.” (It’s on a note taped to the wall near my easel). So I would work on one painting at a time until all of the problems in it were resolved. Each piece that I undertake represents an investment of several months of my life and after nearly three decades as an artist, I know that once I start a piece I will not abandon it for any reason. When it is the best painting that I can make – when adding or subtracting anything would be a diminishment – I pronounce it “finished.” In the past I would start the next one only when the completed piece was out of my sight and at the frame shop.
But a few years ago I began working on two pastel paintings at a time. When I get stuck – or just need a break from looking at the same image day after day (I am in my studio 5 days a week) – I switch to the other one. This helps me work more efficiently. The two paintings interact with each other; they play off of each other and one suggests solutions that help me to resolve problem areas in the other. I’m not sure exactly how this happens – maybe putting a piece aside for awhile alerts my unconscious to begin working deeply on it – but having two in progress at the same time is my preferred way of working now.
A note about the painting on the left above, which was previously called, “Judas.” I happen to be reading “Cloud Atlas,” by David Mitchell and came across the word “judasing” used as a verb meaning, “doing some evil to a person who profoundly trusted you.” I’d never heard the word before, but it resonated with an event in my personal life. So the new title of my painting is “Judasing.” This is a good reminder that work and life are inextricably (and inexplicably) woven together and that titles can come from anywhere!
Comments are welcome!