The other day I was reading a book on poetry by Robert Pinsky when I came across this:
'There are no rules. However, principles may be discerned in actual practice: for example, in the way people actually speak, or in the lines poets have written. If a good line contradicts a principle one has formulated, then the principal, by which I mean a kind of working idea, should be discarded or amended.'
This is one of the better definitions of artmaking I have come across and describes pretty well how I approach making paintings. I start with a very general notion of what the painting will be - usually just a particular colour. As I go along I listen to what the picture tells me it wants to look like and I try to do that. Sometimes it wants some collage, sometimes not. Often I mishear what the picture wants, and then have to listen again, and work further to get the painting resolved to my satisfaction. Very occasionally the procedure goes terribly wrong and the picture has to be put down: but this hardly happens to me anymore.
This may sound unnecessarily whimsical, but I can't think how better to describe the process.
What seems most critical to a picture being successful is the quality of the painted surface. I called this show 'Surfaces' because the facture that comprises a picture's surface has long been my primary interest in paintings, both in the looking at and the making of. I considered titling the show 'Easel Paintings' as it seemed to reflect the spirit in which the pictures where made, till it was pointed out to me that this was inaccurate and confusing as my paintings are not painted on an easel. Unlike much of my previous work the pictures in this show are often smaller in size and with a more intimate feeling regardless of size. Recently I've been looking at and thinking about the analytical cubist pictures of Braque and Picasso (which also sometimes have collage elements) and are to my eye the epitome of easel paintings.