Wednesday, 21 December 2011



Why be a painter now?
In this digital age what does it mean to be a painter? Is it relevant or justifiable as an activity?
Our computers remember. We can access anything and everything at the click of a button, here and now. We are gaining a collective rather than a personal memory. My memory is being transferred via metaphorical Ethernet and the keyboard to hard-drive, the internet and the blog.
I cannot drive, I walk. I have time to think, to contemplate and to see what would pass you by if travelling in a vehicle.
Why would you want to paint, an activity that takes time, slows time down, that does not ‘know’ and often comes out completely different to how you started?
You can destroy a painting with one wrong flourish of the paint brush or equally save it with another one; it hangs in the balance - isn’t that wonderful? You cannot click undo.
Painting is intuitive, something you test, try and work at; more often than not your mistakes are more interesting.
I have thought a lot recently about what it means to be a painter, I do not believe in painting’s death, I do not mourn it, but I am somewhat guilty of doing it, why?
I am excited by what it has to offer, both to myself as the creator and as a viewer.
It is very special to go to the studio and be part of a discipline that is slow in today’s culture. To be slow in the frenzy and overload of our contemporary life is a bloody good reason to be a painter.
I often plan out my work before hand, the idea is worked out and I paint the idea.
There is logic.
What would it mean to be illogical for a year, how would I cope with this?
What would it mean to let go of the rules for making art that I alone create for myself?
Each year the first year students where I teach are asked to create one hundred drawings in two days. They are told little else. They all do it. Nearly all of them struggle when asked to make their own work. I am always amazed that they fail to make the connection between the two things.
Work can generate work.
In 2012 I will be illogical in my approach to work in a logical way.
I will set up rules that allow me to create without rules.
Here they are.

10 RULES FOR 2012

1.       1.  Each work will inform the next work, however big or small that connection might be. Move on, do not stick to a series of work, but move each work on.
2.       2.  Do not be afraid or guilty of gesture, size, canvas and being a painter.
3.       3.  It is ok if there is no common thread in the works produced, in fact it is better; work it out after rather than before.
4.       4.  Think of creating a group show of work, not a solo show.
5.       5.  Be different, but do not worry about being original.
6.       6.  Use time wisely.
7.       7.  You can destroy and replace, as well as create.
8.       8.  Do not show any paintings made in 2012 in 2012.
9.       9.   Do not be afraid to not stick to rules.
10.    10. Smile.

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