Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don't do that, but you must do this, but not that, but always this. Now paint.

"The Rules of Painting" 4' h x 5' w - oil and marker on canvas
I have been studying Michael Fullerton's work, not because I think he is amazing on any sort of technical level, but because I find his work extremely amusing. The fact that an artist would do an entire show titled "Get Over Yourself" and include stilted portraits of Rothko and Carl Jung looking pretentious makes me laugh. I sometimes think we get so terribly serious about our work that we can become terrible bores. Now, this isn't to say I don't take my work seriously. I take it very seriously. So seriously that I sometimes am so paralyzed by how serious all of these rules and regulations are for traditional painting that I'm not sure I ever let any of my personality show through.

So, perhaps it's still a little of Artist Michael Fullerton's humor still lingering, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I created a painting (and still focusing on the methodology of painting not caring about subject matter) and tried to intentionally break all the rules that have been so firmly ingrained. What if I culled through old notebooks and wrote down the notes of the "rules of traditional painting". What would happen if I took each one and broke it. It might turn out. It also might be a big piece of junk. But, at least I know that if it is junk, I'll just paint over it later.

Here are some quotes from notebooks from all sorts of teachers. Some are from my days at the atelier and some are from Boston and some are from colleagues and some are my very own quotes that I tell my students. In essence, I am taking my entire painting experience and quotes and sorting them all out and writing them onto the canvas. I then start to paint over them. Really there are no rules anyways, just tools. Simple tools to help an artist get better, but not hard fast rules.

In Process - A little over 4 feet long by 3 feet high for now.
 I just wrapped the canvas around some plywood
so maybe it will be longer.
In fact, I rather like when students don't even know the rules because they have no idea that they are breaking them. I've had students do all sorts of stuff that I say "Wait..what are you doing? Why are you doing that?" They'll shrug and say "I don't know, I don't know what I am doing". Well...it seems to me that if you don't know what you are doing it really means you don't know you are breaking any sort of traditions which is equal parts frightening (as an instructor) and exhilarating (as a student). So, since I know the "rules" I think I'll just write them all out with a big permanent marker and just simply break as many as I can. At any rate, it may be the first time I've actually smiled and laughed while painting.

Hmmm...that leads to the next question: Why are we as artists such a serious bunch anyways? Don't pretend to not know what I am talking about. We have all been to the art openings. Sure many great  artists are wonderful and humble folks but there are those other artists. You know who I am talking about. We have all seen the serious artist floating around the room, wine in one hand, pontificating about how profound they are while wearing tight fitting black turtlenecks, little rimmed glasses and a haircut that would make Vidal Sassoon take notice.

If I ever become that pretentious artist, slap me in the face. But after you've rattled me back to my senses, you owe me a drink. After all, you just spilled my wine all over the floor.

The quote reads "Control your brushwork. It Shouldn't look like you just had a seizure with oil paint". Yeah..that's actually my quote. I tell that to my students who start going nutty with their backgrounds when we are doing traditional oil painting.
When asked about glazing - David Leffel grinned and said jokingly
"Why don't You just paint it right the first time?"
 Look, I love glazes but that quote still just cracks me up.

2 comments:

Chris Willey said...

Rachel,
I love the new work. Isn't growth fun? You make me almost want to go back to grad school. I'm still trying to grow.

rmindrup said...

You know it really has been fun. My advisor last semester, Peter, found this to be pretty amusing. What was great is one of the faculty said "Oh..my..what garish colors for a background and then she read the painting and said...oh..I get it! haha..." Well, I at least made a lot of painters giggle.

AND...The paintings just keep getting bigger and bigger. I think Jeff is getting a little nervous. :-)