Alex Fowler


Quotations of the Week

Painting for me is a set of connections, a set of sensations of conflicting movements and experiences, which somehow, one hopes, has congealed or cohered or risen out of the battle into being an image that stands up for itself.
— Frank Auerbach

You have to have something that you don’t ask anybody else about. I’ve always been aware of that with painting. No one else can really help you, or say whether it’s good or bad. It’s just you and it, and that’s great. You can handle everything else in your life much more easily, because you have that place where you are on your own.
— Lois Dodd

In mathematics, the complicated things are reduced to simple things. So it is in painting.
— Thomas Eakins

I do not think about you when I paint. I paint for myself, to follow my interests, to satisfy my curiosity. 
— Catherine Murphy

I think what we all want from art is a sense of fixity, a sense of opposing the chaos of daily living. This is an illusion, of course. What I’ve tried to capture is the reality of flux, to keep art an open, incomplete situation, to get at the rapture of seeing.
— Ellsworth Kelly

Details, details


Peter Inglis on Drawing

It may appear as if 
my sketches are done effortlessly, 
but it actually 
takes a lot of focus and a developed confidence in mark making. 
This can only be reached by drawing constantly.

The artists I choose to look at — Post-Minimalist sculpture and the Land art movement — include Richard SerraClement MeadmoreMichael Heizer and Andy Goldsworthy.

Even though these artists' ideas may differ, they have a shared interest in infusing geometric abstraction with gesture, and using non-traditional processes, materials and forms. The forms are kept simple. As a result it is open for interpretation from one's own experiences, demanding personal aesthetic perception from the viewer. I see drawing in these artists' works, a play of horizontal and vertical lines in contrast with curved lines. The curve symbolizing fluid and dynamic aspects; the straight line symbolizing the static, structural and orderly. The two combined create a powerful and dynamic composition.

I try to achieve this in my own drawing. In music, Miles Davis, one of my favorite musicians, uses notes economically, playing simple, perfectly phrased melodic ideas, and using space to imply more than what he is actually playing.  If an artist can appreciate and see beauty in simple things it will reflect in their own work.

Drawing for me is basically responding to a subject and working intuitively to find the right placement of lines and shapes in relation to one another — deciding what to add and what to leave out. Finding these lines is a compromise between seeing and feeling.


“What is it for?” Garrison Keillor's mythical house-cleaners the Jettison Brothers ask, “When did you last use it?” If you can't answer either question — Out. It’s an uneasy joke, reminding us of just how complicated is our relation to things. Think of a house sale and of those hundreds and hundreds of possessions laid out for bids, each one imprinted in its own way with use, care, neglect, memory, pride, indifference, carnival or lent. And how these imprints fade — from living attachments, through some sort of melancholy haze to nameless rubbish. One man's treasure another man's junk, and vice versa.

The pathos of objects fascinated Van Gogh. His boots, his pile of yellow-backed French novels carried a heavy freight and their worn heels or dog-eared pages spoke of a view of the world.

In its early days, of course, still life was all about objects as emblems. Everyday connections could be diverted to grand purposes of love and status and death. Since Romanticism put painting on the road to autonomy, still life has offered the example of ‘pure’ painting. Cezanne's instruction to Vollard: "Sit like an apple."

In practical terms, the feature that distinguishes still life from any other genre is that the painter's power over her subject isn't limited to the canvas but can extend in a literal way to the subject itself. She chooses, arranges, commands. She can add or remove, line up or disarray at any point and, as if playing both black and white at chess, she can set up traps or force solutions on both sides of the board: Cezanne tilts his plates on a coin; Morandi paints his bottles white; Soutine arranges his tomatoes in a coronet. Hand and eye command the table no less than the canvas. This is not the same as asking the model to turn his head to the right, nor is it the same as making things up.

First, the painter has to break through that tissue of connections that tie objects to living use and to see them as pure appearance. A napkin, off the dining table and into the studio, is folded into a white patch or a cloud or a mountain. The juicy ripeness of a handful of cherries is set aside so that their scattered pattern can be secured; the horror of a pile of sheep's skulls is neutralized for the sake of geometry. And then a return! Suspended meanings and cut connections are restored in new and more demanding registers. A dead chicken's wing that Soutine had exploded into smears and jets of paint, comes back with as much chicken energy as it ever had in life, only now stronger for being fixed in tension like a set trap. The plums, whose purple Bonnard had stolen for the sake of the orange-gold sunlight streaming in behind them, are miraculously restored in their blooming fullness, reconstructed by the eye that takes in the whole painting.

— Andrew Forge, June 1999

Robert Dukes: Notes on Observational Drawing*

*with an inordinate amount of quotations from other artists and writers.

Robert Dukes after Veronese

Other writers (usually painters themselves) have written far more perceptively and intelligently than I ever could — I would urge anyone interested in drawing to read Patrick Heron’s essay on Constable’s drawings (1). Sargy Mann has written so well on Bonnard’s drawings (2) that I imagine anyone reading his commentaries on that artist comes away with an enriched experience. Both these artists write so well about the nature of drawing itself that it would be futile for me to try and do anything other than point you in the general direction of their writings (see list at end of this essay). Sargy Mann in particular explains very clearly the difference between illusionistic drawings (which only tell us what we already know) and “real” drawing.

Drawing and painting are very closely combined. This might seem a surprisingly obvious statement: after all, the act of painting could hypothetically be broken down into drawing, colour and tone – yet some serious observational painters nowadays hardly draw at all. For me, regular drawing (with a pencil) is necessary for me to “get my eye in.” In order to perceive colour-shapes clearly, I need to draw first.

Drawing — really drawing — is really difficult!

“Drawing is an effortful activity.” Euan Uglow

The recent Daumier exhibition in London was a perfect manifestation of his contemporary Delacroix’ opinion that “Cold exactitude is not truth.”

Line drawing is not putting a silhouette around an object (the reason those who project a photograph on their canvas and fill it in produce dead images).  A good drawing like a good painting consists of “shape(s) made from a sense of mass, not a sense of shape. (Frank Auerbach)

The White Album


Rembrandt Peale on Drawing — 1835

Click on image for facsimile of
Rembrandt Peale's 1835 book on drawing

Catherine Murphy Talks About Painting

The Innocent Eye is Blind

Paintings and text by Dik F. Liu
Dik F. Liu website

A cityscape from life. The light is from 8:45 a.m. to around 12:45 p.m. Different time of day for different parts of the painting. 

It's from a large 9th floor balcony of a university I teach in. I painted while standing on a stool to make the view possible. The viewing angle is wide enough that the perspective on the right side begins to warp. I guess it is a phenomenon unique to observational painting — unless one is using a wide-angle camera lens.

If the lines were straight, the painting would look more “realistic.” That has always struck me as the fundamental difference between a realistic painter and an observational painter. The observational painter paints the world as he sees it, even if the resulting painting does not fit the accustomed paradigm of realism.

I have wondered the extent to which one can be a PURE observational painter. As Kant noted in Critique of Pure Reason, percept without concept is blind, as concept without percept is empty. Pure seeing sans knowing might well be an impossible task. Later in that book, Kant bluntly rephrased that idea as “The innocent eye is blind, as the virgin mind is empty.”

I think all observational painters edit to some degree, even if they do so unknowingly. I never feel that I know enough about what I am seeing to knowingly edit my paintings. The visual world has so many surprises that when I‘ve tried to work from imagination, the results look programmatic and unimaginative.

I have thought that Fairfield Porter was as close to a pure observational painter as there was. I wonder if that's why his paintings were so hit or miss.

Small is Big

Tim Kennedy Claw and Cone


An exhibit of paintings at Grunwald Gallery of Art, Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington, featuring work by Catherine Kehoe, EM Saniga, Ken Kewley, Eve Mansdorf and Tim Kennedy. 
October 19 - November 16, 2012 
Small paintings that stand on their own – as a category distinct from painted studies – are capable of producing a powerful effect on viewers. Paintings done on small scale communicate intimacy. The viewer becomes intensely aware of his or her own space as well as the space in the painting. Viewing a small painting one can feel the contradictory sensations of nearness and distance experienced simultaneously. We see the artist’s hand in the marks on the surface of the panel or canvas that magically transform themselves at the same instant into a house or a flower – and then back again. It is an endless circuit that produces the hypnotic illusion of stopped time. 

Small is Big: Questions + Answers

Podcast of interview with artists on WIFU By YAËL KSANDER

Article about the show on Indiana Public Media website.

The following questions were asked of the painters in the Small is Big show, at Grunwald Gallery of Art, Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington:   Ken Kewley, Eve MansdorfTim Kennedy, EM Saniga and Catherine Kehoe.
The artists’ replies are below. Artists are listed by last name, in alphabetical order.

Small is Big essay

By Tom Rhea

The physical terms of confronting a small painting are quite different from the approach to a large painting. The space of a large painting can envelop or contain a viewer: architectural in a way, like a room. The small painting exists at a permanent distance, its space accessed as if through a portal. There is a crystal ball aspect to a small painting: we peer into it. Like the twisting of a kaleidoscope, the images turn and hover on the edge of recognition, often without clear context. Skilled interpretation is required, and sometimes outright divination. 

Ruth Miller's Atmosphere of Thought

By Kim Sloane

“The art of painting, for those who know how to use their eyes, resides in an apple on the corner of a table. What could be more stupid than painting an apple! And yet to make of such a simple fact something that will be elevated to beauty, painting will have to engage all of its means; it will have to be solid, flexible, and rich in substance, suggestive too, so suggestive that it will have the luxury, the grandeur of revealing man’s presence in the apple — the apple surrounded with an atmosphere of thought.” 
From "To Myself," Odilon Redon 

If we substitute cabbage, gourd or pumpkin for apple, this quote of Odilon Redon perfectly suits and describes the achievement of the paintings of Ruth Miller on view (October 12-November 12, 2011) at Lohin Geduld Gallery. Few painters of our time could renew the sentiment of these words and convince us of their continual relevance. Miller is an artist who clearly knows how to use her eyes. Her vision has been honed by over sixty years of working from nature, studying the work of the past, and in communion with the best artists of the New York School. She is an exceptional draftsperson, as demonstrated by the drawings in the exhibition. 

PHILIP GEIGER: Ink wash drawings

Some Still Life Paintings



That is, in relationship to painting the world. 

Mirror, Raven, Rose, Lemon and I, 20" X 20", 2011

We are in constant motion and the motion seen with two eyes gives us information about our place in space and the relationships of forms within space. We have since babyhood developed a keen understanding of the world as form and space. We
use this knowledge plus the flat world we see (if we don't move) to paint images. 

What is the flat world we see? Monocular vision?
Even though we have two eyes, what we generally see is one clear object. Or think we do. Up close if we look with only our right eye we see the object and a background. If we close our right and look at the object at close range with our left eye, we see the object slightly moved and the background moved quite a bit. Because we are focusing on different parts of the site we do not notice this discrepancy. The mind makes it simple for us to see what we want to look at. Like peripheral vision. I remember Dickinson telling us that when we are studying an object to close one eye to see it clearer. And that is monocular vision.

Painters' Palettes in Photos

Above: Cezanne's palette
Painters' palettes in photos
Photos by Matthias Schaller

Painters and Their Palettes

Some painters were invited to describe their palettes and the way they organize them, as well as their preferences regarding brushes, paint brands and medium formulas. Their replies follow.

Paul Cezanne

The colors on Cezanne's palette, according to Emile Bernard:
brilliant yellow
naples yellow
chrome yellow
yellow ochre
raw sienna
red ochre
burnt sienna
rose madder
carmine lake
burnt lake
emerald green
green earth
cobalt blue
prussian blue
peach black
lead white

KEN KEWLEY — Notes on Color and Composition

These notes run parallel to my own work; they are a work in progress. 
Look for revisions and a part two. — Ken Kewley

Love of color makes a colorist. This passion gives one an unlimited vocabulary. Color is used to create steps to direct the eye around the painting parallel to the vision of the artist. Along the way, like a songwriter, rhyming words that may or may not rhyme, we invent color relationships to get at the surprising juxtapositions that are found in nature. Color, one of those things that matter in painting, is an abstraction. It would be very hard to consciously compose a thousand colors. It is more easily done with a few. 

One color needs to be found to stand in for several colors. Each color needs to be chosen in consideration of the whole. Color does not become itself until the whole work is completed. A painting that in its early stages resembled a poem, as it gets filled in, cluttered with color that changes or dilutes what was there, loses its poetry. If a painting isn't working, often it is not because something is missing but that there is something that is not needed and therefore harmful.

A colorist loves colors as a writer loves words. It is the love that comes through when the mind gets out of the way. Don't think too much. Trust your instincts. We all have the colors needed to make beautiful paintings. 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. Art is not something that is learnt and then practiced, it is a form of communication and one is always trying to say something clearer. The mind messes up love and it messes up painting.

Start as if putting down the one thing that will finish the work. Put down the one color shape that excites you the most, let that color lead you to your next, when you put down the first it will call to mind another, put that one down. It is the visual equivalent of saying the first word that comes to mind on hearing another. You are relating colors. Comparing colors. Finding relationships that excite you. With each color you are relating everything to the whole, attempting to complete the whole. You are emphasizing what interests you and minimizing others, leaving out altogether what distracts.

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, from realism. 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.

Sangram Majumdar — Color and Paint

One of the first lessons regarding color I ever had was at RISD, in a two-dimensional design class with Gerald Immonen. The class, and his projects created a wonderful foundation that was steeped in acute observation as much as it was in understanding color systems. When I began working with oils, my color palette was based around a warm/cool combination of the primaries alongside green (Permanent Green Light and Viridian) and a couple neutrals (Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna). Also, early on I began working with ‘artist’s grade’ paints. After realizing the amount of filler and chalk that is mixed into student grade paints, there really wasn’t even a choice in the matter! However, as finances often shape a lot of our decisions, I quickly had to downgrade my palette, and so I decided to keep working with artist’s grade paints and edited my palette down to: Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Light, and Ultramarine. This went on for about three years, until slowly I started reintroducing other colors back into the mix (this was in grad school). During this time I also began working indirectly, applying paint in various manners, so I introduced an entire range of transparent hues to parallel my working palette that was primarily opaque hues. So, some of the new colors were Indian Yellow, Terre Verte, Transparent Blue Oxide, and Transparent Yellow Oxide. Over the last ten years my working palette has changed dramatically a few times. The first was when I decided to leave my chromatic palette and switch to a hybrid of chromatic and neutral primaries/secondaries. The reason behind this was a shift in my subject matter (working more from life, and motifs that were more somber in nature). I was finding myself spending a lot of time ‘knocking down’ colors, especially cadmiums to arrive at mixtures that could be arrived at quicker.

Ruth Miller


Stuart Shils on Color and his Palette

Of most importance for me, regardless of what is on the palette, is that the color mood of the painting is not the result of what specific colors are put out, but of what the painter can do with those colors to create a color complexion in the painting. I use the same colors for night painting, day painting, painting in Italy, painting on the coast of Ireland, urban painting or rural painting — the idea being that the colors are like the tools in a stone mason's bag and it is the mason's job to use the tools to get the job done. Just because a landscape is green doesn't mean we don't have reds on the palette. Everything gets mixed with everything, the color is never even close to being right out of the tube, and the palette has to look like a battlefield, which it is. The warms and the cools, mixing it up in the middle, out of which comes color. But until the color is put down on the canvas there is still really no color. Color is something that cannot exist on the palette but only in juxtaposition in the painting itself.


Zeuxis // Still Blue

Cezanne's Doubt

By Maurice Merleau-Ponty
It took him one hundred working sessions for a still life, one hundred- fifty sittings for a portrait. What we call his work was, for him, an attempt, an approach to painting. In September of 1906, at the age sixty-seven—one month before his death—he wrote: "I was in such a state of mental agitation, in such great confusion that for a time I feared my weak reason would not survive.... Now it seems I am better that I see more clearly the direction my studies are taking. Will I arrive at the goal, so intensely sought and so long pursued? I am working from nature, and it seems to me I am making slow progress”. 
Painting was his world and his mode of existence. He worked alone without students, without admiration from his family, without encouragement from the critics. He painted on the afternoon of the day his mother died. In 1870 he was painting at l'Estaque while the police were after him for dodging the draft. And still he had moments of doubt about this vocation.

Israel Hershberg: My Palette(s)

My palette, if I am to think of it only as a list of colors inside of tubes, has changed little over the past 40 or so years. Whether in the attenuated, saturated notes and temperatures found in much of the Northeastern US, or under the merciless and brutally denuding light that bears down on Israel’s long dry summers, or in that tempered and fragrant apricot tinged light that is Umbria or Tuscany - that palette has served me well. This same list of colors has survived significant shifts and turns over time, as my inclinations, temperament, and aspirations toward light, color and place took to new directions.

Palettes: Limited + Expanded — Ilya Gefter

By Ilya Gefter

Dinner, oil on canvas, 86 x 84 cm

I have been using two different palettes for most of my painting years: a limited and expanded one. Both have been undergoing modifications: colors are being added or substituted, but the essential organizing principles have remained the same.

Limited palette
A limited palette of four paints is the one through which I entered the world of color. It initially comprised White, Yellow Ocher, Blue Black, Burnt Sienna and/or Raw Umber. This was gradually modified and is now comprised of White, Cadmium Yellow Light, Venetian Red, and Blue Black. I start with these four colors and make carefully weighed color- additions as the painting progresses and asks to broaden the chromatic range. But just the four colors can suffice.

My palette: E.M. Saniga

Still life palette
Here are pictures of two palettes I use. The smaller one with the paint built up that looks like a bunch of Giacometti figures is used in a little room in the house with a small north light for still life painting when I think I need intense light. The bigger one is the one I use in my studio where the light in more diffused and is about two years old so the paint hasn’t built up yet.. I clean the palette after I paint but I don’t remove the colors from the edges and it builds up over time. The palettes look cool grey in terms of color but are actually warm grey of a middle value-the cool north light is on them in the pictures.
Studio palette
Laying out a palette in words is more complex than laying one out in paint because I have to think about things as compared to when I am painting; there I am just sort of reacting to what is in front of me or in my mind. But here is a try anyway.

Other: Inside and Out


Fluidity in Focus

This essay was written by Christopher Chippendale 
on the occasion of his exhibit at Soprafina Gallery, December 2011

Je ne puis pas distinguer entre le sentiment que j'ai de la vie et la façon dont je le traduis.*
—Henri Matisse (1908)

*I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have about life and the way I translate it. 

Through their medium artists reconstitute and give permanent form to nature’s evanescence, to its very authenticity. Painting…is nature’s paradox: it gives form to that which, in its essence, is beyond permanence. … To accomplish this feat…is a painstaking task. … [It] requires going beyond convention, beyond training, beyond culture, back beyond language, to a state of naïve yet sustained scrutiny and inquiry...[to a] world of forgetting.
—Joel Isaacson (1994)

The paintings in this exhibit aim to translate the fugitive conditions of light and color as discovered through the act of painting. They result directly from my desire to find and reveal through the material language of paint that which is essential in what I see. As such, they extend a modernist tradition of perceptual inquiry and representation based upon the raw data of sight, an interpretation of appearances directly apprehended and reconstructed on the canvas in a preform of color patches, unmitigated by any predetermining identification of what those color patches represent.

Giving the Mundane its Beautiful Due

By Imogen Sara Smith
“Nothing humiliates his brushes,” the Goncourt brothers wrote in 1867 of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, the eighteenth-century master of still life. Their amazement betrays disdain for such mundane subjects as copper pots, a jar of olives, a brioche, a dead rabbit, a clay pipe, a plate of plums. But while Chardin transformed kitchen scenes into enchantingly harmonious compositions, he never lost the feel of the kitchen. Evoking what Norman Bryson calls “a low-plane reality of quiet duties and small satisfactions,” he created an art not humiliated but nourished by the mundane and the quotidian. The evolution of these words is telling. Mundane means the things of the monde, earthly rather than heavenly; quotidian means daily, as in panum nostrum quotidianum, our daily bread. Both terms have picked up connotations of not merely the commonplace and ordinary, but the banal, unimaginative, pedestrian, dull. Used this way, the words diminish everyday experiences and ordinary surroundings.

Behind the Curtain:
Meaning and Representations of Cloth in Painting

By Richard Baker
I think of painting as mildly calcified theater — all the “action,” so to speak, moves at the rate of a slow moving liquid, like glass.
To paraphrase something Myron Stout wrote in 1953, — in the process of painting, each successive moment is a list of moments spread out in time while the painting progresses — they are gathered together at the end and become a single immutable moment. At the theater, when the curtain closes, the series of events now ended become an object-like memory composed of a myriad of moments. I have chosen a handful of images that depict cloth in painting. I hope they will illustrate my speculations about the metaphorical potential of such images as seen in still life paintings.

This painting is by Edward Hopper, painted in 1927. It was once common when going to the cinema that the screen would be concealed behind a curtain. This served to heighten a sense of anticipation and expectation. Like at the theater we, the audience would be ready to actively receive whatever spectacle was to be presented before us. What would unfold behind this unfurling fabric?
Would it be a treasure or a dud?

Some Drawings


Beau Lotto on Visual Perception

Diebenkorn's Notes to Himself

The following list was found among the papers of the painter Richard Diebenkorn after his death in 1993. Spelling and capitalization are as in the original.

Notes to myself on beginning a painting

1. attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.

2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued — except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. Dont “discover” a subject — of any kind.

6. Somehow don’t be bored — but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.

7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.

8. Keep thinking about Pollyanna.

9. Tolerate chaos.

10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

The Composition of Paintings: An Artist’s Perspective

by Alan Feltus

In making analytical drawings from paintings, start to look for what lines carry through, or continue from one thing to another. Or from the far to the near in a room. And how these work with edges of the painting. In paintings where these connections are seen that is the kind of structure or composing that interests me.

In this Degas, for example, watch how the vertical in the architecture continues down the dance master's stick, and the music stand and the chair working with that dark vertical in the background, in the mirror, I assume that is.. And the bar, the red line almost horizontal from left to right is picked up by the red sash and bow on the dancer on the far right. When you look for this kind of underlying structure you begin to understand what composing a painting is about. It is the structure that is additional to the narrative or subject matter of an image. A painting wants both that abstract reading, or structure, and also what the painting depicts in narrative. 

Some Heads



I’ve learned that it’s what you leave out of a performance, not what you put into it. Fred Astaire taught me this. He explained: ‘‘When you have a show and it’s perfect, where every song works, no matter how perfect you think it is, go in and pull out 15 minutes of it. Don’t stay onstage too much. Know when enough is enough.’ I’ve learned that less is more. It’s not because of age, but it’s the right thing to do. Don’t overstay your welcome.
— Tony Bennett

Value does the work, color takes the credit.
— Author unknown (everyone who has ever painted)

You speak. Some will listen, others will not. You cannot choose who will and who will not. Do not concern yourself, do not adjust to please. Let those you please find you. Good things come when one no longer cares about pleasing anyone else.
— Ken Kewley

Everything I say is only true in some limited way.
— Lois Dodd.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
— Winston Churchill

To simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
—Hans Hofmann

Long ago I became convinced that the seeing see little.
— Helen Keller

Don't think: look!
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

In art you never hit what you’re aiming at, but the difference may not be downward.
— Robert Kulicke

There’s no story. I don’t want to tell stories.
Other people always read things into your work, which you can never see. That’s fine, that’s great. For me it was just exciting to look at it and try to do something with it.
— Lois Dodd

You have to accept your nature. And this is who I am.
— Catherine Murphy

To strain after innovation, to worry about being on ‘the cutting edge’ (a phrase I hate), reflects a concern for a place in history or one’s career rather than the authenticity of one’s painting.
— Jane Freilicher

The most beautiful things in in art come from renunciation.
— Edgar Degas

I do not think about you when I paint. I paint for myself, to follow my interests — to satisfy my curiosity.
— Catherine Murphy

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
— William Shakespeare

Everything I have done has been influenced by Cezanne, and this gave me a new feeling about composition. Up to that time composition had consisted of a certain idea, to which everything else was an accompaniment and separate but was not an end in itself, and Cezanne conceived the idea that in composition one thing was as important as another thing. Each part is as important as the whole, and that impressed me enormously.
— Gertrude Stein

I have a criterion which requires my subject to have a precision which says, "I am a particular tree," or "This is a real location." I love this idea that correctness in nature brings about another dimension to the painting, at once abstract and specific, a line that speaks in the particular and alludes to a lot more.
— Sylvia Plimack Mangold

Some objects are less susceptible to metaphor than others. The whole world is less susceptible to metaphor than a tea-cup is.
— Wallace Stevens, Miscellaneous Notebooks

The secret to being a bore is to tell everything.
— Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

If you can turn off the mind and look with only the eyes, ultimately everything becomes abstract.
– Ellsworth Kelly

If a person will begin with certainties, she shall end in doubts; but if she will be content to begin with doubts she shall end in certainties.
— Francis Bacon, 1561-1626

In art, as in everything else, one can only build upon a resisting foundation: whatever constantly gives way to pressure constantly renders movement impossible. My freedom will be so much greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength.
— Igor Stravinsky

Precision is not the opposite of mystery.
— Louise Glück

RICHARD RAISELIS: Time for Reflection

Modern urban glass buildings disturb the window/wall dichotomy, and distort the visual field. You see the glass wall, you see in, you see behind your head, you see yourself. Plato never imagined such a well-appointed cave. To portray this new subject, I have to stop looking the way we are all conditioned to look since childhood (Find Spot! Where's Waldo?) Instead, I just consider shapes of color, their proportion and position, and I slowly build a wall of irregular colored bricks. When the colors are chosen with care, the wall begins to suggest transparency, and at best, to imply a familiar light and humidity, and a sense of a place we recognize.

I work from direct observation because the unconscious works better that way. Working from life is like a conversation with a stranger. You're not sure what you're going to say. Working from our heads, the same convenient cliché is repeated over and over again. Looking without ruminating seems to yield more surprising, and ultimately more honest, results.

I am learning not to over-think the process. I try to paint what I see. I can worry about the results at the end of the painting day. Yogi Berra asked, 'How can you think and hit at the same time?' His question is an invaluable bit of art coaching. Enjoy the game!

Lois Dodd: Painting in Maine

Lois Dodd video

Chuck Close: Note To Younger Self

Courtesy of CBS News
I was in the eighth grade and was told not to even think about going to college. I couldn’t add or subtract, never could memorize multiplication tables, was advised against taking algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry. Since I was good with my hands I was advised to aim for trade school, perhaps body and fender work.

Never let anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that don’t apply to you. I applied to a junior college in my hometown with open enrollment, got in and embarked on a career in the visual arts. Virtually everything I’ve done is influenced by my learning disabilities. I think I was driven to paint portraits to commit images of friends and family to memory. I have face blindness, and once a face is flattened out I can remember it much better.


Stanley Bielen
Joe Brainard on Holbein
Lisa Breslow
David Campbell
Claudia Carr
Katie Claiborne
Tim Kennedy essay: Human Measures
Ken Kewley — Albums
Richard Raiselis
Gareth Reid
Seymour Remenick — An appreciation by Stuart Shils