“The Child is father of the Man,” Wordsworth famously wrote. As a child, I drew constantly. No surprise then that as I got a little older, nothing generated excitement in quite the same way painting, drawing, and working with sculptural
materials did. Art school was a given, first at Pratt, then completed at then Philadelphia College of Art.
Add to this, now, more than four decades working as an artist. In
art, experience has no price in any monetary sense. You don’t buy it, you acquire it. And you acquire it by solving problems that arise in the course of composition. Experience, Oscar Wilde said, is “the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” And it’s also the greatest teacher.
Life supplies us with endless stories and images. Inside the image is where the story lurks. Image and story remind us how the past shapes our understanding of the world, or of the situation we currently find ourselves in. We all like to believe
we’re unique, unlike all others. And in the way one individual differs from all the rest, we are. But we’re also the same.
We learn to live with this paradox. Taste is a product of sensibility as well as of experience. Ideally works of art prove this.
It’s in the work where talent makes its stand. It’s not something interesting or clever that intrigues viewers so much as the fact of what they see of themselves in the image they’re looking at.
The compulsion to look, like the compulsion to create, arises from that same hardwired sense of curiosity. We, by intuition, know, or recognize, those moments that define us, each of us, to ourselves. Translating those moments into a visual image is a matter of process. The process, composition, consists of pulling together the disparate parts, some tangible, some intangible, that go into a painting.
Laying it out in charcoal points to what it might ultimately look like,
enhanced by a palette which corresponds to whatever feeling arises, either from the imagination or from experience.
For instance, I saw a woman in a turban on the subway. She was dressed in thrift shop drag, but every tattered thing she
wore worked with everything else. She was style in action.
For me, a painting mentally pulls itself together in a similar way.