Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Painter's Rag

This is the first time I have ever painted a non-representational piece. I may have played with the idea in college some--painting non-representationally, I mean--but I couldn't tear myself away from painting a subject, painting a thing. Anything. Even if the finished product looked nothing like that thing.

Painting non-representationally seemed too easy, and too hard at the same time. How do you make the choice to put a line here, a shadow there, if you aren't looking at a subject?

I feel guilty at the thought of turning away from the subject. I want to make art that is beautiful and not trivial. If you're painting non-representationally, does that mean that you're painting nothing? Nothing at all? How can that not be trivial? How do you know if it looks right? How do you know when it's done?

The mental run around is problematic. My best paintings are created when I achieve a balance between instinctive action and deliberate concentration, but it turns out that non-representational painting is mostly an internal activity. I over-think as payment for the fact that this type of painting requires very little thought. If my instincts tell me to paint a box here, I should. But in my mind, painting is hard work. It should be hard work. If it's not, if it's not a struggle, it's bad art. I force myself to think hard about the painting because I don't have to, and I want to make art that affects people, and I want to deserve it.

So, this is my first non-representational piece. Now that it's all said and done, I think it's beautiful. And of course, art is not trivial, so even though this is a painting of nothing, it is not trivial, because it is art. Art has its place, an important place. (gosh...I'm normally much better at writing about art...but this hard)

I created this piece over a couple months. I just knew when it was done because I couldn't tear my eyes away from it. I still don't know if it looks right (or done, or beautiful) to other people, but I guess I don't really need anyone else to think it's beautiful, and that's important.

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