Unreal Nature

April 28, 2014

The Artist’s Most Important Tool

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed.

This is taken from John Marin in conversation with Dorothy Norman in 1937:

… I would say to a person who thinks he wants to paint, Go and look at the way a bird flies, a man walks, the sea moves. There are certain laws, certain formulae. You have to know them. They are nature’s laws and you have to follow them just as nature follows them. You find the laws and you fill them in in your pictures and you discover that they are the same laws as in the old pictures. You don’t create the formulae. … You see them.

Marin_wehawken-sequence
John Marin, Wehawken Sequence, (from much later than the quoted conversation) [image from WikiPaintings]

… If the structure you’ve built isn’t enough to hold up what you aim it [at] should [be], or again, if it is stronger than it needs to be, you feel restless when you stand and look at the picture you are building. … Of course, you can address your envelope way over in the corner if you like, but you’ll soon feel it out of balance. … It is the same with your pictures.

Next is a bit from a note by Arshile Gorky in 1942:

… I like the wheatfields, the plough, the apricots, the shape of apricots, those flirts of the sun. And bread above all …

Last, this is from ‘The Romantics Were Prompted’ by Mark Rothko (1947):

… They begin as an unknown adventure in an unknown space. It is at the moment of completion that in a flash of recognition, they are seen to have the quantity and function which was intended. Ideas and plans that existed in the mind at the start were simply the doorway through which one left the world in which they occur.

… The most important tool the artist fashions through constant practice is faith in his ability to produce miracles when they are needed. Pictures must be miraculous: the instant one is completed, the intimacy between the creation and the creator is ended. He is an outsider. The picture must be for him, as for anyone experiencing it later, a revelation, an unexpected and unprecedented resolution of an eternally familiar need.

-Julie

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