Friday, May 28, 2010

Notes on painting (from a current studio notebook)

I don't really want to discover painting as predictable.  I also don't want painting to reflect some facet of real life or real culture or contemporary reality--suggesting of course that painting is not real in comparison.  Of course painting will grapple with reality but I don't want painting--my paintings--to be a shadow, a facsimile or a tame approximation of lived life.  Instead I want painting to rear up on its hind legs and BE what it is.  My painting is most interesting to me when it stands fully alone and strongly alone.  The paintings are best when, knowing I made them, I am nonetheless still incredulous about how they came to exist in the world.  They are very separate and real and upright and full and I cannot take my eyes off of them--what I just describe is not a common occurrence but an ideal and rare one.  Most often I am faced with the unavoidable evidence that yes, I made this.

So painting is like a river running parallel to my living.  It never stops, is constantly moving along, and I periodically step in and fumble along for awhile until I get a handle--my bearings.  And then when I am upright and full I can move along with the river--and painting tells me how to see the world anew.


Melissa Dunn said...

Barbara - I have to say that your art writing is really good, honest and such a natural extension of your paintings. I appreciate it so much that you post these musing because I personally struggle with my own art writing - it's just so nice to read someone who has a handle on it. Not to say that it's not a struggle for you, I'm sure you have your own battles with articulating your process as much as the next person, but at least you make the attempt, which really is a big deal and something I think is easy to lose sight of in the arc of the studio life. Sure we can whip out a statement, but what's said beyond the statement is what i'm more interested in. So thanks for sharing your studio notes. I'm working on sharing some of mine soon - still a little chicken. : )

Barbara Campbell Thomas said...

Melissa, thank you!!! You always spur me on--it is a help to get feed back!!!

courtney mandryk said...

i also love reading this. it's inspiring. i love when in writing you can feel the grappling happening in real time. beautiful