Tag Archives: Clyfford Still

Painting: Horizons

Here is a painting I recently completed, which I named ‘Horizons’.  I named it that for no reason other than that it seems to have a few.  Having a few smears of paint that resemble horizons and cloud layers resolves into a convenient handle with which to refer to the painting, or in other words, a name.  🙂  That is not usually the case with my work — this one was lucky.  …I should probably try harder to name my paintings.


I called it "Horizons". It has a few. Acrylic on 14x18 canvas.

My stuff is pretty non-representational, in other words, they’re not usually paintings of any sort of things you can put your finger on with a name.  I think ‘abstract’ is the word usually used so describe such stuff, though that is kind of a misnomer.  The first abstract paintings, i.e. Kandinsky, actually were abstractions — abstract representations — of actual things.  But that approach had ceased to be avant garde by the 1950s with abstract expressionism, and sometime in the 20th century the term ‘abstract’ became muddied.  I don’t start with an idea of something, and then paint an abstraction of it.  (Though laying that out there makes me think maybe I should try that sometime!)  I usually start with an idea for a pattern or texture or a technique or how I want it to look, and go from there.  And often end up somewhere completely different from where I thought I was headed.

Nor does my work usually have any deep meaning.  I’m not trying to say anything with my work, not usually anyway.  Sorry if that ruins the mystique for you, but to make up for it, I will let you make it mean whatever you want it to.  I’ve found that when I have something to say, words are a more effective vehicle than paint.  In short, I paint for fun!  And I try not to get pretentious about it.  I value the ethic of the crafts-person over what I think of as the ‘ethic of the artist’.  People who do crafts do them for fun.  The don’t expect their work to change the world.  “Artists”, and certainly not all of them, perhaps very few of them, but lets say the archetype of the artist, is driven to create Great Art That Will Change Everything.  That attitude is paralyzing for a beginner, because obviously a beginner has no chance at all of doing that, and this attitude is all to easy to fall into.  Anyway this is what I tell myself when I feel that coming on, before it paralyzes me into inaction.  This is also a good quote:

“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing.  Action always generates inspiration.  Inspiration seldom generates action.” – Frank Tibolt

And this is half of the stated reason for this blog.  I hope to someday find myself painting because I need something to write a blog post about!

So what did I have in mind with this painting?  Techniques, textures, patterns, and the overall look of it.  I was experimenting with painting with a palette knife and mixing paint on the canvas in the red and blue parts.  I was making quick strokes with a very big filbert brush and mixing on the canvas in the other layers.  Last I was experimenting with dot patterns using the back of a brush in the alizarin crimson (maroon) square.  So, my thoughts were far from ‘the meaning of life’, they were just on boring painting technique stuff…


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