The current paintings in my “Veil Series” began as thoughts on how I might reduce the distractions in and around me. The challenge begins with learning restraint. I have a tendency to crowd my physical and mental space with visual and audible distraction. My questions about reduction are not about wanting absolute silence. I think of absolute silence as a blank canvas in a room without light. Silence taken to such an extreme becomes a lifeless setting. My thoughts about being a little more quiet are in pursuit of enriching life. A life with fewer distractions becomes one with more discovery. Art can distill the chaos and mystery present in everyday life. Isn’t this why people seek out the arts? Most are not longing to become artists, they want the sense of discovery art brings to our existence.
Most of the paintings I’ve made over the past year confirm using restraint is a challenge. The power of understatement eludes most of my paintings. I have accomplished it in a few out of the group. So I will continue learning how to say just enough with the thoughtful application of line and color. There’s not a formula as every painting requires a different way of completion. But the painting (below) titled “Veil 184″ is semi-quiet and says just enough for my eyes.
So how much quietness can I allow in my art? I don’t know at this point as there is much work to do. But if this becomes a mental exercise in the studio I should stop working now. Such a reductionist exercise eventually leads to a blank canvas. I’ve seen blank minimalist canvases in esteemed art museums and have not been moved. When I watched others view such paintings, most barely pause. A quiet work of art is not created to go unnoticed. A quiet piece of art may challenge our sense of timing and patience. An understated piece of art shouldn’t be consumed in a single 15 second glance. And what happens if the viewing leads to contemplation? Could we allow ourselves enough time to pause? “Looking at art has potentially unexpected side effects.” Should this statement be posted at every art museum and gallery entry?
I’ll return to the challenge of making semi-quiet paintings after making sketches, photographs and writing poetry for a month. After sorting this new information I’ll see what happens to the next group of mixed media paintings in the “Veil Series.” Maybe the next ones will even convey the quest of semi-quiet that I’m writing about now.
After all these thoughts about being quiet, I still have to make noise so others notice my semi-quiet work. I’ll post images of finished paintings on my studio website while seeking opportunities to exhibit them in galleries and museums. I don’t want my art to end up in a dark room.
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