Thursday, January 28, 2010


A Simple List/Squeak Carnwath

1. It's simple really,
to paint is to trust.
To believe our instincts; to become.

2. Painting is an investigation of being.

3. It is not the job of art to mirror.  Images reflected in a mirror appear to us in reverse.  An artist's responsibility is to reveal consciousness; to produce a human document.

4. Painting is an act of devotion.  A practiced witnessing of the human spirit.

5. Paintings are about:
observation &

6. Art is not about facts but about what is; the am-ness of things.

7. All paintings share a connection with all other paintings.

8. Art is evidence.  Evidence of breathing in and breathing out; proof of human majesty.

9. Painting places us.  Painting puts us in real time.  The time in which we inhabit our bodies.

10. Light is the true home of painting.

11. The visible is how we orient ourselves.  It remains our principal source of information about the world.  Painting reminds us of what is absent.  What we don't see anymore.

12. Painting is not only a mnemonic device employed to remember events in our lifetime.  Painting addresses a greater memory.  A memory less topical, one less provincial that the geography of our currently occupied body.  Painting reminds us of what we don't know but what we recognize as familiar.

13. Painting, like water, takes any form.  Paint is a film of pigment on a plane.  It is not real in the way that gravity-bound sculpture is real.  It is, however, real.  Painting comes to reality through illusion.  An illusion that allows us to make a leap of faith; to believe.  To believe in a blue that can be the wing of a bug or a though.  It makes our invisible visible.

I've spoken about my teachers before on this blog--always with reverence and appreciation.  I suppose it is not surprising at all that I would become a teacher myself.  When a teacher meant something to me he or she slid into a vaulted position; they became more than probably they ever were in reality.  I say these things not because I am striving to be that person in my students eyes, but because I believe teaching is a noble profession, and one of great, great importance--especially to students.  A good teacher can radically crack open one's world in my experience, and this is an amazing, amazing ability--and certainly not an ability to be taken lightly or callously; good teaching is equally about generosity and an awful lot of compassion.  Certainly my world was cracked open while I studied painting with Squeak Carnwath in graduate school.
I gave my students an excerpt of some of her writing, and in the process of pulling that assignment together I remembered this list of Squeak's.  I love how she thinks about painting; it has very much influenced my own thoughts about painting.

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