It’s been a marathon of painting for weeks recently. Now I can relax a little (for a day or so). Finally, yesterday, I had photos taken of recent work. Often during the process of seeing the paintings set up for the photo shoot, I see ways I still need to work on them. I mentioned to Steve Farmer, my photographer, that sometimes I find the rawness in these pieces (the ones I want to work on more) appealing but not enough. Steve then said that primal quality works when it has intent: primal intention will draw in and communicate with the viewer. (I asked if I could quote him; I liked what he said so much.)
Today while I was teaching my abstract painting class, I started talking about this. I had my students paint their name, then cut it up, reassemble the pieces and paint into it. This exercise seems to give students a relationship to structure that no other exercises I know do. It is structure, whether subtle or bold, that shows intention. Structure has to be there in some form to have the painting transcend the elements of its making, so it doesn’t look like just paint on canvas (or paper). That quality of transcendence, of mystery, is the stonework of a painting.