Painting is Talking With the Hands Made Permanent

I recently found this meditation/musing on painting by Ken Kewley, an artist whose work I was not previously familiar with. It’s wonderful. It’s pretty  long, the kind of thing you can dip in and out of, pulling out little inspirational nuggets when you need a nudge in one direction or another, a jumpstart, a friendly hand, a reminder of something you know deep down but keep forgetting. It’s had me in a good mood all week long.

A few choice quotes:

Love colors as writers love words. It is the love that comes through when the mind gets out of the way. Don’t think too much. Trust your instincts. I try not to worry about what I do not know, what I have been unable to teach myself. My inabilities serve me better than my abilities. That art is not something that is learned and then practiced, it is a form of communication and one is always trying to say something clearer

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You are emphasizing what interests you and minimizing other things by putting them in the service of your true passion and leaving out altogether what distracts. Keep it simple.

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As far as keeping a painting fresh to the end, you cannot lose site of the reason for starting the painting in the first place. That first excitement, that one big relationship, if the details slowly obscure that relationship the painting becomes dull, then it is necessary to dig back in and pull it out even if it means upturning days of work. In the end nothing is lost and it will be more exciting for being harder found and deeper felt.

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I tend to like paintings where the abstraction is strong. By this I mean that the paint, the colors and shapes, are distinct, like strong actors in a play. Going towards abstraction does not mean going away from representation. It is more like describing something real by other means than illustration. It is like describing an apple with your hands, forming the shape in the air with your hands, by enclosing an imaginary object with two hands. You do not try to make your hand look like an apple. Paint takes over the role of the hands and does not hide the fact that it is paint. Painting is talking with the hands made permanent.

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Paintings are not finished, they are stopped.

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Do not work too hard, but work all the time.