There is no stupid premise for beginning a painting. No clever ones either. If we begin off-balance and in grave doubt, or in the full flush of confidence in our selves and our gambit; if we are honest and do what the painting asks of us, we will go through the entire range of attitudes towards the work in progress, probably many times. In the end – if there is one – the painting begins to show us, with more and more clarity, what it needs. At the same time both the doubts and demands we put in front of the work recede.
We stop when we can no longer see what the painting asks of us, or when it has made it clear it has nothing more for us to add.
However much we struggle over how to begin, the sooner we can suspend those reactions and attend to what is in front of us, the sooner we begin painting instead of fretting or posing.
Our perceptions of order or chaos are judgements, not statements of fact. Neither exists independently of our sensation. They say more about us than about the world.
A surface is manipulated and perceived as a series of passages. These are infinitely variable in size and proportion of the whole. Our perception of the world is of an infinity of interpenetrating passages that our senses and organs of perception and attention sew together into a seamless whole.
A definition of painting: The creation of a privileged surface of attention is an exercise in navigating the interactions the surface and our medium allow us to enter into in the creation of an object that carries the potential to interact with the attention of another. An accumulation of actions and reactions upon the fluency of the materials is added to the world as potential objects of attention. The more they participate in a relationship to attention the more they are seen as having value. We value that which attracts our attention. How we judge what to give our attention to is a vast hole in our ethics.
These objects of attention act as we would wish maps to act; as guides and intermediaries between us and the world. They are not maps, because of the difference in the way they communicate their relation to the world. A map in its apparent transparency deludes us into taking it as a replacement for reality so that we are left to suffer for having taken a reduction for the whole. A painting’s relationship is different. It insists – in person, not in reproduction – on its own existence and distinction from whatever it “represents.” It cannot be mistaken for the whole. It carries within its tensions reminders that it is more and less than what we make of it at any given time, just as it reminds us that this is equally true of any view of the world. “Ceci nest pa une pipe!” is a work that focuses directly on this quality of an art object, but they all partake of this power.