start with the truth that the mark is the painting, that the painting is something held in something — frame; room, city square, starry night are frames. that the paint mark, the first stroke is the finished painting. realize that, live with that humble truth. then, make the painting. the mark becomes the emblem, the thing in the art — the figure; person, clouds, painterly motions — they’re the content, and the content reflects the primary gesture on the board — what you made, the stroke, and how you made it. the painting is a picture of the artist — an hologram of the artist’s personality.
the emblem falls off the board if it’s not held there by the viewer. so many flecks and noises in the atmosphere surround what we feel and see — we’re in a bowl of motion. somewhere, on the painting, is another painting. that’s when art becomes art and not copy xerox; when art is as complicated and compassionate and angry in the image as it is in the viewer’s consciousness and spirit. that’s something the artist has to find in the painting. it can’t be anticipated.
starting a new piece is like finding yourself locked in a trunk and only knowing that there’s an outside, but not yet seeing it. scratching around, you find hand holds, find that you’re actually on the side of a mountain and you have vertigo. the handholds change as you examine them, looking for certainty, turn into caves, finally. and, on the cave’s walls are old scratchings of images: messages from your ancestors, random notices, water markings, showing you how to open up your small gestures, instead, into the world of animals and their curious teeth and yawns of boredom. that’s when the work becomes really hard, because that’s when you first confront the audience, the reality that the painting must have life for the viewer. you have to remember that you yourself are the viewer, that you’re painting something so you’ll have something to see. there’s not enough to see as it is; the world needs more nature, not less. you become ‘nature’.