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Getting to Why

In which our protagonist agonizes in a public forum.



Painting has been, for me, revelatory. Art has always swirled around my life, but hadn’t taken a more central role until I was able in retirement to stare at it directly. No question but my interest in art - either from afar or from direct interaction - stems from my father’s work in promoting artists and their work, and this clearly imbued within me a positive perception. Once I turned away from applying my generative instincts to work, it became imperative that I find another outlet. Soon. And so I started painting - the slathering on and scraping off of pigments from surfaces. You know, painting.


My energy is as of yet undimmed after two years of this work. It does get challenged, however, by the endless staring at the work. Who would have guessed that the painter would have to look at their canvases, day after day? This might be why I paint so quickly - I need to look at something else. Always. This explains why I don’t have the patience for oils (yet, I must add) because I need the frisson of the dry image. I like to touch the paintings and the paint, so if it were oils I would need even more time to accommodate the slow drying. So, acrylic painting, speeding through the work, moving and learning quickly.


Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I can see creeping up on me the inevitable questions of purpose. Why do this this? Why spend the time and money and goodwill of friends to make these canvases? In reading thousands of curated artist statements in my itinerant wanderings through museums of the world I realize that answering this question is essential. Sometimes, the reasoning is tortured. Complicated, post-modern explanations that seem less to inform than obscure - maybe the artist doesn’t have any idea why they do what they do. Other times, the writing is so clear and intent so crystalline that it as though the artist is standing there explaining it to me. And every once in a while, the art itself conveys the why.


So it is apparent that I have to address my why. I am comforted in the knowledge that I haven’t flagged in production - the essential action that maintains my artistic fiction. If you don’t work, there is no need to have a why match your “not much.” As many of you know, I have spent very little time on my various why’s - my actions tend to spring from my impatience, my desire for change, or sometimes just a need for something to happen. I know that about myself, at least.


It is pretty clear, however, that exploring my why is the next step in my evolution as whatever I am becoming. Since I don’t have any answers yet - the question is relatively new - I will need to spend some time working through this. Coming up with an authentic why for my artist actions - for any actions, really - looks like a good way to spend the next chunk of my retirement.

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