"We believe all great art is founded upon the use of visual abstractions to express beauty.... To us, seeing is the greatest joy of existence, and we try to express that joy..... We do not believe that painting is a language. Nor do we try to "say" things, but we do try to fix upon canvas the joy of vision...In other words, we are not trying to illustrate a thought or write a catalogue, but to produce a joy through the use of the eyes. We have much to express, but nothing to say. We have felt, and desire that others may also feel." - Taken from the Manifesto of the Society of Six in 1925 as recorded in Edward Doro's unpublished essay circa 1957.
I'm hard pressed to remember if i've ever taken time to write of the joy of painting, and yet when i discovered this manifesto i found the statements to express better than i am able the integrity behind why i continue down the path of this impenetrable career. I'm so busy angsting, questioning everything i do and encounter in this business that my heart lives permanently in the backseat. lets take it for a joy ride.
my kindergarten art teacher changed my outlook forever demonstrating that the brown of a tree trunk is made up of many colors of the rainbow messed together, immediately destroying the tedium of trunks and giving me a key to reproducing nature, i was all powerful.
my life as an eight year old consisted of a game i invented called Valuable Old Art Treasures. i would spend hours creating images of the circus, crumple the paper into a tight ball, submerge it in water, let it dry in the sun and then hide it in the house somewhere so i could happen upon it and make millions later in the week.
The next 25ish years were spent gathering every art material i could find, piling it into my various studios simply for the sheer joy of discovering what it could do and to ensure preparedness for any art emergency. i've had many manner of art studios and have learned that it's not really location location location, although the thrill of location was definitely worth pursuing for a time as it changed how i valued light and noise and flights of stairs versus elevators. i still own and don't share the first paint set gifted to me by my high school art teacher whose name i've forgotten but whose encouragement i have not. underpainting still gives me that unrealistic idealistic jolt of fantasy that maybe now i'm finally on my way to MOMA. i once left all my clothes behind in a convent in france so i could haul a suitcase full of paint back to america. i dragged that 50 lb. beast up and down flights of train station stairs trying to get from the deep countryside to Charles de Gaulle airport. i love color, i love paper, i love how my brushes have become an extension of my hand, i love the infinite variations of line. on a yearly basis i consider giving it all up for a "real" job. on a daily basis i guard my studio hours fiercely and dread the day i may need to get a haircut and a real job.
these days my studio is the most humble i've had since i was a teenager, the spare bedroom in our little apartment in our small town. i moved my workspace into the home once my husband and i learned we were going to have a baby, started socking that studio rent into a hospital bill fund instead and i prepared to work from home rather than haul two dogs and a newborn to my former workspace. i threw out nearly everything, kept the bare minimum. all those years of discovering (wandering), collecting (hoarding), experimenting (experimenting) have currently settled into a minimal bliss. I am no longer prepared for every art emergency, but i have what i need: paint, brushes, canvas, paper, easel, brain.
this new phase has me painting on a sporadic time table and for a new audience, one whom is most often perched in my formerly free arm. she is learning how to see, and the pure joy of it brings a new level of joy to my work. she watches me make marks and i make more just to please her. she hears me name colors and i name more just to please her. even more do the words of that manifesto settle over my studio these days, "we do try to fix upon canvas the joy of vision...to produce a joy through the use of the eyes. we have much to express, but nothing to say. we have felt, and desire that others may also feel."
painting delights me, plain and simple. the challenge of it enrages me, brings me to tears, leaves me pacing, cursing, gloating, yes. it is expensive and takes up space and storage, it makes little profit and is most often misinterpreted. it is hard. it is soothing. it is considered dead. it is my first love, it will most likely be my last.