I think any artist reaches a point at which their motor skills have developed.
Once their brain/hand coordinationís gotten to a certain level, they finally know how to do their own paintings.
And itís a terrible moment. A terrible, terrible thing. Before that, itís all adventure. Iím gonna crash and burn or Iím gonna make it happen.
Suddenly, you can make it happen, and thatís scary. Itís really the worst position, I think, for an artist to be in,
and you have to find a way around it. Years ago, Joe Masheck and I were talking about Renoirís Society of Irregularists,
the fight against what Renoir called false perfection. He said something like, “Iím going to start painting with my left hand
and mess it up on purpose.” And fifteen, twenty years ago, Joe and I were saying, “This is really lame, what a rotten idea.”
Now I find myself getting older, and I think: Oh, my God, now I know why he was saying this. He was asking: How do you keep up the
energy that you had when you were on a tightrope? How do you make a new tightrope for yourself?
Where do you put a form? It will move all around, bellow out
and shrink, and sometimes it winds up where it was in the first
place. But at the end, it feels different, and it had to make
the voyage. I am a moralist and cannot accept what has not been
paid for, or a form that has not been lived through.
The only knowledge, wit or wisdom I have for now is that my
paintings come from silence and a world of abandonment. In
another world there is this wrestling and restless engagement
with things such as aesthetics and truth in which I can
sometimes aggressively articulate my experiences and carve them
in stone as though unbreakable and, at the next turn, smash
these tablets of truth with little regard for what, yesterday,
was the law of belief. In this world of silence, no truth
exists; there is the abandonment of power that truth manifestly
becomes in that other world of dogma, ideology and aesthetic
certainty. The silence becomes the painting, the painting comes
from silence. It is the moment when painting is no longer an
act of doing or making but of receiving. There is no ego shape
here, no facilitative reply to aesthetic notions, whether
historical or contemporary, there is only that desperate faith
of the abandoned...and there is the discovery and rediscovery
of 'Art' which is exhilarating.
Living in New York City I sometimes think, sure, it would be
beautiful to be out in the countryside and paint nature. I'd
love to go out and sit down in front of a landscape with a lake
and paint the reflections and birds and all kinds of wildlife.
And start describing each living thing and paint it as I see
it. And then I said, well I'm in a landscape already. The
landscape I live in is the landscape of ripped drawings, of
paint all over the place, of pencil sketches and drawings that
have been compiled, images that have been thought about and
turned and twisted. And suddenly I realize that I am in the
landscape, and this is my landscape, and there's no point in
trying to run away. I may as well just make art of it.
One can, in fact, abandon oneself (not however without some
second thoughts) to the call of that which is seen and keenly
felt. The real is the springboard; it gives the impetus to
everything that will ensue. There is nothing to do but let
It is the bareness of drawing that I like. The act of drawing
is what locates, suggests, discovers. At times it seems enough
to draw, without the distractions of colour and mass. Yet it is
an old ambition to make drawing and painting one. Usually I
draw in relation to my painting, what I am working on at the
time. On a lucky day a surprising balance of forms and spaces
will appear and I feel the drawing making itself, the image
taking hold. This in turn moves me towards painting - anxious
to get to the same place, with the actuality of paint and
In front of a drawing made a long time ago, one can still come
back to the moment it was made by looking at it again.
Man gets tired of himself. Man is obsessed with himself. I
would like some day to capture a moment of life in its full
violence, its full beauty. That would be the ultimate painting.
My line is childlike but not childish. It is very difficult to
fake: To get that quality you need to project yourself into the
child's line. It has to be felt.
I never lose the consciousness of time: to me the present is
never here: it is always last year or next week.
from The End of the Affair, by Graham