Having a clear-out

Posted by on May 24, 2020 in Blog, Inspiration | One Comment

While painting you often produce a little patch, or a big one, that is very good. But as you continue, many of these special places have to go, they no longer fit with what the work has become. A few you may keep because you still believe in them, but their days may be numbered.

J. M. W. Turner. 1845, oil on canvas.
Rain, Steam and Speed
J. M. W. Turner. 1844, oil on canvas.

I’m often reminded of once hearing my old art teacher say to a protesting student, to whom she’d obviously given the grim news, ‘Yes, that’s all very well, Natalie, but you can’t have them all in THIS PAINTING!’.  It is hard, and maybe we do need time before we realise for ourselves that there needs to be a cull. But when you can face the truth things are different – there’s no regret felt at all! You can give the chop to anything! Including your dearest, nicest, masterpiece-level square inch. Some of the paintings shown with this blog, namely the Twomblys and the Turner,  are stripped down to the bone, clearly not as a result of any clear-out; they arose already like this, like an autumn crocus on its translucent stem with no leaves, born perfect. 

Yellow Painting
Patrick Heron. Oct.58-June 59

The Paul Jenkins is there to demonstrate another cause of sparseness, economy of detail;  a few huge smooth swathes of thin colour and only a small scrunch of bright strokes. And in the Patrick Heron the forms painted over are left with deliberate casualness, still serving a purpose. I love that! 

Phenomena Sanction of Darkness
Paul Jenkins. 1997
Milton Resnick. 1961
No. V 1974
Cy Twombly 1928-2011
Untitled 1990
Donald Judd 1928-1994
Quattro Stagioni: Primavera 1993-5
Cy Twombly 1928-2011

1 Comment

  1. pippa
    June 17, 2020

    With Elyse showing her your blog – and looking at a book – do you know the work of Grace Hartingan ?
    loves your work and writing

    Elyse went to Bard – and had amazing art teachers 🙂

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