Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Embrace all your different realities!

You start painting an object and move it into an abstract composition of shapes. It seems to lack depth so you add light and shade, you construct believable grooves and folds. Then this something starts to look like another recognizable subject. You run with it and add more elements that will turn it into a fish, or a person, or a hilltop. Once you're past this layer, all you see is that central shape of a physical being and it annoys you tremendously that this is no longer just an abstract painting that is free to be anything. Does our eye always seek something recognizable to hold onto? Do I as a painter and in my real life need to steady myself with reality?

You turn the piece upside down and tell yourself that you'll start from scratch. You can simply see lines and shapes and colors, without needing to go anywhere else. Yet, within ten seconds your eye begins to search out recognizable imagery - formal elements of a painting aren't enough for it to chew on.

Perhaps it's the nature of shapes and lines to be suggestive. With one stroke Japanese calligraphers evoke a mountain top because they know our eyes will complete the scene on their own. So why should I try to run away from suggestive imagery? Why not embrace as many realities as come to mind? When the landscape is full of incomplete spaces, our eyes are able to take it in and add to it in just the same way they see things in an abstract shape. It's about doing more with less. Wouldn't that be a nice life motto?