painting: keeping me humble since 2003

by | Creativity

CH, 13" x 17" charcoal on toned paper. Available, $600, unframed.

CH, 13″ x 17″ charcoal on toned paper. Available, $600, unframed.

If there’s one thing art has taught me, it’s that I know nothing. Literally, not a damn thing.

You’re just painting along, thinking you know what you’re doing and then BAM.

Suddenly everything looks different and you were so, so wrong before.

The thing is, the truth of what you’re seeing is always 10 steps ahead of you. Life, liveliness, nature, movement, beauty – it’s always dancing away from you. It’s like quicksilver, slipping through your fingers and shimmering away. It’s mesmerizing, fascinating and exasperating as all get out.

Vision is a funny thing. You have those lovely eyeballs hanging out in your head, but what they process and tell you about is determined almost entirely by your brain. So you can train yourself to not just see more, but to understand more of what you see: to perceive more clearly and truthfully, to shed symbolizations and preconceived ideas of what’s actually in front of you.

Sometimes painting can feel like dealing with a bad mafia movie godfather:



Other times, it feels like veils falling away from your eyes. You’ve been studying something for hours, learning about its very inner workings, and then you look down at your palette, look back up, and a whole new galaxy has appeared before you. Your vision has shifted and a new, deeper level of reality has come into focus.

It is both glorious and hair-tearingly frustrating. I am constantly humbled before the truth of nature and reality. Its depth, magnificence and wonderfully cohesive organization never cease to amaze me.

Which is huge part of the reason I’m madly in love with what I do. I love the challenge. I love not knowing and trying to understand. I love it when the pieces fall into place and suddenly my vision sharpens and clears. Even something seemingly tiny, like truly understanding how someone’s specific nostril is put together, feels like a triumphant achievement.

Because painting the human body has taught me how vast and complex and deep nature is. That I am a speck amongst a marvellously organized cosmos.

You think you know?


And I rather like it that way.

(This was first published in my newsletter, which you can sign up for here!)