I’m not sure if any other artists experience this, I assume that they do. Sometimes after an intense session of painting when I really feel “in the zone” it feels like I have millions of thoughts rush at me at once. I even used to have a notepad open, that I would put occasional headers in saying, “thoughts while painting”. I continued this habit on my phone too when a notebook was unavailable. It appeared to me that my “painting thoughts” came in a different shape. Language is a funny thing, and I think if I tried to describe what I think is happening is that since our thoughts typically come to us in a word format, that when painting there is an abundance of mental, visual data that is being forcibly compressed through the limited opening of verbal word language. It reminds me of the movie Arrival, based on the short story by Ted Chiang, that talked about how learning a language is not just how we communicate but entirely the way that we perceive the world, a brilliant concept brought to in unimaginable limit by allowing the main character to perceive time differently upon learning an alien language. This makes me wonder if I could perceive the world entirely differently by trying to understand what my painting thoughts are discovering and trying to say. Many better writers and artists than I have made numerous links between our subconscious and our ability to dream up creative art, and many psychologist have discovered that our subconscious is able to perceive far more than our conscious brain is aware of. This also may or may not be linked to dreams, seen as basically the storehouse of all of our unprocessed subconscious energy without a conscious idea or thought to grasp on to.
While not knowing what to do with those ideas, I do occasionally force myself to try and express the voluminous, multitudinous, and irrational energy that is stirred up from a deep session of painting. Here is an attempt to do so. This was written in a flurry, without hardly thinking about what word would come next, and very little editing afterwards. It’s interesting to notice the general structure: I begin with concrete thoughts and strongly worded proposals, and then gradually get less interested in making any kind of sense in general. Neat. Anyway, give it a whirl if you feel, and comment if it stirs something in you:
I used to think that the reason my art was bad was because I didn’t have the right subject matter. I drew and drew and drew, and was unsatisfied, thinking also that I never understood the right piece of anatomy, or the right perspective, or something unknown because you can’t know what you don't know. Writing carelessly to communicate this emotion.
While painting this peony flower just now, I realized that to not be able to enjoy the bliss that is pure painting is to neglect the real thing that art is. Really, any subject will do. It is not the subject that you must trifle over for sketchbook after sketchbook. You can, and should draw and paint practically anything. It is in the way that you paint that the joy and addiction to this beautiful craft begins (an addiction that you’ll never regret). One of the greatest attributes of modern art was to give birth to the visible brush stroke. It is in this brush stroke that everything is contained in the universe; our individual universe (and what else is there anyway). The brush strokes are the means and the end of painting. Why hide the only thing that makes painting painting. The invisible nature of the artist’s hand in the old paintings is the only unforgivable thing of the massive beauties. I find it harder to appreciate anything that is pure subject; the brush strokes let me know an artist was there at some point, and that it was made by a human. And this is it isn’t it? Humanity in a work. It is the same reason that an AI’s artwork will never be right: because painting is about our humanity. And the brush stroke is where this lives. In it, we are free. It is the only fleeting freedom I feel. We should all work in a way the makes ourselves visible, otherwise, a printer will suffice. Painting is our perception, and the brush stroke is our being and story all through the work. And it is not perfect. It’s imperfection is exactly what will make it human, and we should strive for nothing else.
The subject may endlessly change. A road, a tree, a bush, a flower, people, a friend, a portrait, yet in each, the brush strokes carve out the bliss of our experience. We need to strive to hold on to this, for few other things really make sense. It is the impossible senselessness that we express that gives us glimpses into everything at once. I was staring at my iris intensely, like I was to bore a hole through it with a laser, and I saw everything, and accepted everything, at once. This is it. There’s nothing else, and the brush strokes, they were there too. They were the steps that led me there. I hope to visit the precipice often. Leaning over it all, without rationality or heaviness. Just looking out, into the deep clouds and occasional clarity of a senseless thing. What deep forest holds this impossibility within.
A small crack of light. Flooding the veins of an irretrievable icon, never known again. We run to the once blasphemous, and drink, and breathe, and live. Running through messes, blood, and torture, to be able to express the unexpressable, but trying is everything and all we have. Our limited tools, inexpressible intentions towards obvious clarity. A movement so gentle it wasn’t necessary to write about, but only to do. Where was it until here. Nothing was needed by this infinite senselessness, it knew already. Only running and leaping and trying was it, there was no goal the whole time. Immediate willful arrogance and unknown brooding clouds above.
That’s where it ended. Do with it what you wish, and try it yourself.