Morality on the board


Yesterday someone had written some words of Oscar Wilde: Morality, like art, means drawing a line somewhere. I saw at least half a dozen students copy it in their sketchbooks.

I’m not sure what it means to them, but my first thought was where do you begin when making art. It could be a literal line, a line of thought, or a line of inclusion or exclusion. I usually begin with collage elements that have some personal and possibly private reference. Elements that then get buried in the painting because, once noted, they have served their purpose.

Then I begin to think about all the decisions involved in the process, all the elements that are excluded, that don’t survive within that drawn line.

Morality is intended to mean conforming to rules of right conduct. So then, perhaps the right decisions make a moral painting.

When I was in art school, one of the common topics of conversation was: Does an artist need to be a moral person to make good art. Obviously not. But not a bad idea. Probably most artists would like to think their work makes the world a better place.