Sunday, March 16, 2008


'Confusion,' oil on linen, 36"x 48", 2008
by Stephanie Lee Jackson

I think this one's finished. Maybe it's a little rigid, particularly up top in the cloud shape, but it's at that precarious level of balance where one slash could totally alter it, and maybe I'm not feeling so brave.

The reason I love painting is because it's magic. When you reach a certain point, suddenly a canvas becomes infinitely more than the sum of its parts. It's more than an image, more than a color, more than some grease on a piece of cloth. It starts to radiate an independent, complex energy of its own. I try to stop painting on a canvas when, in my judgment, the whole thing is radiating cohesively, with no 'dead zones.'

For me there's an infinite difference between a brush mark that is obvious, in a redundant way, and one that is necessary. A necessary brush mark gives you unexpected and incredibly efficient information about direction, light, energy, touch, form, and even emotion; a redundant one just delineates a form. Rembrandt's and Vermeer's brush marks are all necessary.

Sometimes I have to re-work mine a whole lot to avoid obviousness, sometimes they work as soon as I put them down. Sometimes they work but I don't trust them, and end up reworking them too much.

Is this sort of thing interesting to anyone other than other painters? Are other painters even interested?

I re-shot this painting this evening, so I'm re-posting the image in the hopes that it's a little better.


Kidist said...

Hi PL, long time...

Why "Confusion"?

I like the billowing smoke, if that's what it is.

Kesha Bruce said...

"When you reach a certain point, suddenly a canvas becomes infinitely more than the sum of its parts."

I agree. I too believe in magic.

Pretty Lady said...

Hi Kidist! Hi Kesha!

'Confusion' because the forms are a metaphor for the obscuring of clarity that happens when you can't see the whole of the underlying pattern, due to projection, distortion and inability to access some information. Also the grief of loss, symbolized by the red leakage at the bottom.

Kesha, I can see that magic happening in your work.

Chris Rywalt said...

I find this interesting.

I used to abandon a painting when I started to feel I was making it worse instead of making it better. I never felt my paintings were finished. I'd sign them and I had a rule that once I'd signed it, I wasn't allowed to mess with it any more.

I haven't been painting like that lately. Now I just paint until I'm done. I'm done when I just know I'm done. It goes a lot quicker now.

danonymous said...

Shazaam. Magic is right. I think the top image is one of my favorites of the last couple of years. What a great contrast from the two areas. Jolt. good work.

k said...

It is very beautiful. It has growth, movement, but it's a little sad somehow too. Quite compelling.

And yes, the painting end of it is fascinating to this total non-painter.

k said...

This new one I can feel a personal relationship with, in the same manner as Heart 2.

And Heart 1 in its way - even though after a while, the blockage in it began to be maddening, overwhelming with the urge to remove that blockage, so much so it was hard to look at it any more.

Heart 2? I bet it'll never ever be hard for me to look at it.

Which may just be evidence of that basic happy-go-lucky side of my nature, eh?

k said...

pgI haven't tried to view them side by side. But this shot of Heart 2 does seem more...alive, somehow. Brighter maybe.

American Genius said...

I agree with Kris. That's me,

Anonymous said...

Yes, your discussions of that side of painting are extremely helpful and interesting to me. You and the links you make to other artists are opening a new world for me.

Despite an Art History course (only the first half, hello perspective) to fulfill my Core I have never understood much of what I was seeing. As a total non-artist I mainly had two responses. First impression, which I often think of as my 'magpie' reflex. Magpies are attracted by the shiny and pick it up. I especially respond to certain effects of color use and texture with no clue about composition etc. So, 'ooh, pretty!'

The problem is that magpies aren't too discerning, so the second test is, do I keep enjoying it and responding to it if I see more of it? Or does it end up looking like schlock and annoying me? In a museum, do I remember it once I'm out, go back to see it before I leave, stand there with it each time. Does it have more to say.

The combination of beautiful (or some works not) images and commentary is giving me much more to think about, a window into a new visual world, a new ability to respond and appreciate. So yes, I like it!