Thursday, September 20, 2012

Some thoughts about painting

A conversation with Jackie E the other day when we were visiting the National Gallery East Wing.

Downstairs they have a permanent collection modern art show with lots of oversized canvases - some Rothko, a Frankenthaler, a Pollock, some other greats including Alice Neel's chair and Matisse's paper cutouts. Also on the concourse level, they have the fabulous Motherwell "Reconciliation Elegy". Wow!

Some of these great painters would lay their canvas out on the ground and walk over it or around it to produce their work. Some of them worked on raw canvas, unprimed. Some of the canvas is discolored, some of the paint is cracked.

Leading to a thought: is time one of the tools a painter can - or should - use as part of her palette?

With everything subject to change wrought by time, should a painter encourage those changes, and welcome them when they affect the work?

My first thought: Why not? The attempt to fix anything forever, without the possibility of change, is a recipe for lack of life, isn't it? (Not death, since all death results in decay and glorious change!)

What can a painter do to work with the inevitable changes brought by time?

This painting is a fun and successful experiment. I made a purposeful attempt to reproduce a previous painting, but on a different shaped canvas. Original below. I do think it says something about technical expertise when the artist can reproduce something previously produced, at will. (That's a self-generated pat on the back.)

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