I don’t even talk about abstraction and representation, because I think we’re beyond that. I think we’re at a time where everything is abstract and everything is representational. It’s more about how you find your own language with paint. It’s really just your body and its relationship to the world. Using the senses is not anti-intellectual.–Josephine Halvorson
One shouldn’t go into the woods looking for something, but rather to see what is there.—John Cage
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.— Ira Glass, NPR “This American Life”
I step in front of the canvas naked, as it were. I have no set purpose, plan, model, or photography. i let things happen. But I have a starting point, which has come from my realization that the only true reality are my feelings, played out within the confines of my body. They are physiological sensations: a feeling of pressure when I sit or lie down, feeling of tension and senses of spatial extent. These things are quite hard to depict.—Maria Lassnig
The artist who paints the emotions creates an enclosed world.. the picture.. which, like a book, has the same interest no matter where it happens to be. Such an artist, we may imagine, spends a great deal of time doing nothing but looking, both around him and inside him.
“I just want the viewer to experience the painting. To me the important thing is your experience when you look at the painting and the painter, whoever the painter is, such as Cezanne, who builds that into the painting through hard work over many, many years. The work of painting is endlessly fascinating and complex. When I looked at the Cezanne and Pissarro paintings recently, they engulfed my whole being. You could experience how much these painters put into the making and building of their painting.”
— Suzan Frecon in conversation with John Yau, Brooklyn Rail Nov. 2005
“Before I start painting I have a slightly ambiguous feeling: happiness is a special excitement because unhappiness is always possible a moment later.” — Francis Bacon
“When you’re in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you – your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics… and one by one if you’re really painting, they walk out. And if you’re really painting YOU walk out.” — Philip Guston
All the songs take a long time, and although the good lines come unbidden, they’re anticipated, and the anticipation involves a patient application to the enterprise.
My secret for success? Well it’s not a secret that I have never hung out too much and I’ve just worked very, very hard for thirty-five years. It’s just a lot of hard work. That’s my secret—it’s a big secret.
— Joan Snyder
My last year at school. I got a BFA at Hartford Art School and never got an MFA because I didn’t have any money. I also didn’t have the knowledge on how to do that, how to get a MFA. The work became very self-conscious then because I finally pulled it together. And everything started to make sense—why I would do one thing and not another. As soon as I got out of school I started to look at that work that I produced and saying. “Okay, what’s wrong with it? What’s missing?” I would analyze that and put those things in the work and I constantly make work that way. You make a piece and you say, “So what?” and then, “What is missing and where else do you have to go?” You have to be self-critical all the time. It’s a hard way to make work but…
— Annette Lemieux in interview with Robert Birnbaum, Sept. 2002, Identitytheory.com
When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgement of the gift you have been given, which is life itself. And I think the world tends to forget that this is the ultimate significance of the body of work each artist produces. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.
— Stanley Kunitz
The Wild Braid, A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden