It was a pleasure to be linked to Painters-Table and have mentions by the generous Paul Corio and Henri Art Mag blog. From the Painters Table I bounced over to Tom Ferrara’s “A Way of Seeing” where I found some reassuring words. Mr. Ferrara was one of De Kooning's assistants for those of you who might not know.
As a painter I find my greatest reassurance looking at art, good art doesn’t make me want to drop my brushes, it makes me want to get into the studio as fast as possible. It’s the most pleasant infectious disease that says "Yes, do it, go for it!"
But then the real world as you leave the gallery or museum or the street where you see something by happenstance that moves you, kicks in and brings you back with a thundering crash to the ground. That is where other artists support, comments or sayings can be a touchstone back to that ineffable thing that you wrestle with trying to make present in the studio.
In my conversation with my friend who I am letting share a wall in my studio, we talked about this thing. Too much art that I see and it has always been the case, is about the thing they want to be but don’t become or be the thing.
What I found of particular interest in Tom Ferrara’s commentary about De Kooning was “more than anything he wanted to be surprised.”
I had a studio visit with an important museum director from Europe in the mid-90’s who waxed poetic about one half of the paintings I was making, calling me a genius but the other half he went ballistic over, saying “You cannot do this.” I tried to calmly tell him that I had to do both in the studio and that the paintings he loved I could do in my sleep and the ones he hated were challenging and exciting for me.
I might have blown it career wise at that time because a lot of artists responded favorably to that more accessible work and one even said it was suicide to pursue the other. But I couldn’t. I need to be surprised, intrigued and bewildered. If I were to make what I could make in my sleep and have a ‘career’ (maybe and only maybe) I would be nothing than a pricey cobbler filling orders and I need the freedom to make and explore what I find difficult and interesting, otherwise what’s the point?