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December 18, 2003

right and wrong

No mark I make is wrong. Art is not about right and wrong. It just works or it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work, it only doesn’t work yet – it can be made to work.

I still have to make all the decisions though. Not always easy. I work on the principle that if I can put a series of marks down that don’t look like something, that, in itself, is quite clever.

For a viewer to realise that a painting doesn’t look like a figure, the same cognitive skills must be used as when the viewer thinks it does look like a figure. The marks, in a painting that doesn’t look like a figure, are only fractionally out of sequence – otherwise the viewer might be confused into thinking it doesn’t look like a tree, or it doesn’t look like a Yorkshire Terrier [wrestling with the arresting thought of what it’s doing in a painting of mine in the first place.]

So if I can make marks that don’t work, it is only a matter of time and history [and, okay, a bit of learnt skill and inherent emotion] before they do work. This is very important to bear in mind while painting a portrait.

[answer for the Yorkshire Terrier: you aren’t in my painting, don’t worry]

Posted by john at December 18, 2003 06:36 PM

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