Originally posted on December, 17, 2007
The logical question following how to paint watercolor is what to paint. Bearing both questions in mind at the beginning helps accelerate the learning curve. I’ve given these questions of the budding artist painter more than just a little reflection. Advice has been asked by many other the years. Subsequently, there were many days and hours of talking with them about becoming a painter as well as much painting together. In the end teaching and learning become indistinguishable and I fondly remember these encounters.
Hopefully, if you can bear my rambling, I can offer some thoughts that may help. Recently, on the post Painting the Universe, there was a painting titled “Man and Nature? (See also the older paintings). This was painted 10 years ago at a time I was still very much fixated on watercolor. I had reached several years earlier the understanding I must concentrate on learning the materials (pigments, papers, brushes, etc.) in order to become free from them. We all have to experience in our own terms this inner necessity to learn the materials. The artist, as it is said is a person in love with his tools.
Back to the painting: this painting and others of this period were for me pivotal. I was experiencing some freedom and was fully conscious what was taking place. I’m an intuitive, so a conscious understanding of the process does not come easily. To become lost in the process and to then, literally, to find yourself is what it is all about. Some months ago I wrote about learning to paint watercolor. The advice about materials was broadly given. There have been so many good books and magazines devoted to this that I did not see the point of adding to them. But if I can help encourage you to absorb them and move past this concern… then I’ve done something.
I will answer e-mails from anyone engaged in the work of doing this.
Keep your brushes wet,
Published in french as Dépasser le comment faire pour peindre à l’aquarelle
Originally posted on November, 30, 2007
To the extend that an artist painter is intuitive and instinctive, he does not favour his intellect. This is not to say that he cannot express him/herself logically. It is simply not the priority. Creative expression is often at the top of the list.
This inclination towards creative work has been leading our cultural heritage down the primrose path to oblivion. Any artist, not only the artist painter is not inclined to argue with the self appointed art police. There is simply not the time. More important, to enter into the fray is spiritually regressive. Moreover, if enlightened values of truth are to prevail; indulgence in secondary causes are not an option. Freedom is a state of mind, first and foremost.
If it is true that we paint who we are, these points are important. Only an artist can pass judgement on creative work. We begin by passing judgement on our own work. This is not a rational pursuit. It requires direct soul searching honesty. And there we find our moment of truth, as well as humility.
Published in french as Les peintres sont-ils rationnels
Originally posted on November, 22, 2007
The uniqueness of the pre and early 60’s San Francisco art movement was …. How to put this? Let me put it this way: at a certain point, it was well understood that those who remember the 60’s were not there. The “scene? if it was anything, was a life changing experience. It changed people. It connected them, in a way, to the entire universe. This was not, of course, the popular “hippie? experience thing. What I’m talking about was the experience of a unique way of experiencing in an intellectual and artistic sense: An intellectual pursuit somewhat removed from rational thinking and directly concerned with the experience of life. Above all it was freedom … freedom to have an individual understanding of our relationship with life. Jung’s work on psychological types helped me a lot in this area. Viva la difference.
Long after the 60’s I began to think about the “pioneer spirit? in this context. Well, thinking is not the correct word. I intuited that the people who were the early workers in this art movement were infected with something. This something has been labelled the pioneer spirit. It was a subtle psychological shift in people’s relationship to nature and the entire world, the universe. These people began to experience themselves as an integral part of the whole thing. Struggle and hardship taught them to engage the world intimately. Intimately because in fact you experience yourself as a part of it!
At first glance it seems so obvious that we are part of the world. But European and hence American culture has been conditioned for centuries with an egocentric anthropomorphic view of the world. The pioneers (who a generation or two before headed west in covered wagons until they reached the Pacific Ocean) were no doubt unconsciously seeking a new view of things. And this new view was consciously engaged in the beginning stages of “avant garde? art in California.
Comments about my painting are always welcomed. Creativity does not take place in a vacuum It is none the less amusing to me what many people comment on the lack of people in my landscape painting. For me, there is simply no need to put people into a landscape. We are already there. No separation exists visually, mentally, or emotionally.
Published in french as Peindre l’univers
Originally posted on November, 7, 2007
It has been said that the first rule in painting is that there are no rules. Also, it has been said that a painting begins with an “idea?. I believe that both of these conflicting statements to be false. It is not to say that a painting may not begin with an idea. It is to say that an idea is not an integral part. Within the limitations of a short essay I can only suggest why I think so. Even if I was to persuasively argue this position many people would still not agree. Such are many popular firmly held convictions. I will, however, return in future articles to this problem. It is vitally important today.
Not only for the artist painter, but for the artist generally, peace and tranquillity are absolutely prerequisite. It is for this reason that I believe that it is impossible to teach art. Aesthetic sensibility is not something you can learn. Artistic sensibilities are the natural result of peace and calm in one’s life and much contact with nature. You cannot teach this in a classroom or a workshop. Impossible! This for the same reason, “we do not sing because we are happy, we are happy because we sing?.
If you are one of the few people who are actually reading this article I can only tell you this: It is not the things in life that you do not know that are the problem, it is the things that you think that you know that are not so.
Very, very few people can grasp the importance of what I’m saying: Almost nobody gets it. It is too simple. Our minds have been conditioned to look for complex problems to solve. Yet the great minds among us pursuing scientific problems find their solutions when they relax and do and think of other things. This has been documented countless times. Most of our important scientific discoveries have happened this way.
Back to the problem at hand: artistic creativity. Finding the core of our creative instincts may be like pealing an onion. We simplify our lives one small piece at a time. The instinct for positive emotions and creative work is innate. We cannot find it by looking in our minds. It is in our hearts. Tranquillity and peace is the golden rule. It is the only rule. There are no other rules.
Published in french as Être en paix – principale règle de l’art