Painting is a discipline.  It has a purpose that it exacts from you. Whether the images are clear or vague, whether of crisp line or a shadowy penumbra, it needs to be whatever notion it was that welled up inside your mind.  This discipline is not about rules – unless Nature has discoverable rules – it is instead about completeness, about completely revealing whatever it was that was hidden.

You wanted something, he said with emphasis, that you saw in the world, and you must not be content to uncover just a bit of it.  You have to find the entirety.  You cannot go at these insights by half measures.  Newton found three laws of motion, he said loudly, because his reasoning, Newton’s Mind, understood them to be comprised of THREE motions

(And he pounds the table with three raps of increasing volume.) 

But Newton could not think there were three and only describe two of them!

(I don’t think he really knew anything about Isaac Newton.) 

Newton couldn’t be too lazy to tease out the third one!  And an artist is not different from the scientist.  You must tease it out!!  Discover the whole of your thought.  However much work it entails, you must do it.  You just simply must. 

[Above:  I don’t know whether Matisse teased out the whole of his thought.  But he did sometimes tease his cat.  Meanwhile, make no mistake, Matisse is also not the source of the quotes above!]


3 thoughts on “The Artist’s Work Ethic

  1. Hi Aletha,i sort of stumbled upon your blog when hunting up some Diebenkorn images,and liked your thoughtful consideration ,and approach to looking at his work. “Looking at’ is what i am testing as a theoretical prerequisite to all understanding (and perhaps ability) of painting,by which i mean there are actual tenements (rules)to why “It works”.It’s not a popular notion i know. Wassily Kandinsky tried to pen a doctrine in >POINT and LINE to PLANE< He died ten years before I was born ,but imagine, hardly anyone had a attempted a theory prior to him, and a handful since. Have you heard of Robert Henri(the Art Spirit) find it if you can.
    I've been painting thirty plus years, was all rather random ,in a way,compulsive ,impulsive, though very disciplined.There's more to it by I believe I can actually define it, from your beloved D. to enigmatic Bonnard.I'll say more sometime soon Keep the thoughts coming.
    Sol Spendit Omnibus Philip Mix

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