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Part 2 and batch 2 of my illustrations of Ron Throop‘s book, Monsieur Tourette Awakens in Mid-Tic: a retaliatory fiction. The video above also includes some carbon paper traces I’ve been doing the last couple of days. I’ll put those in a future post specifically about carbon paper traces. Painting’s more pressing than carbon right now.
For eighteen years, painting was aimless frustration. Finishing a painting always feels good, but I can’t tell if it’s over till after the final stroke. Never, when painting, do I feel close to the end. If I’m painting, I’m losing. Everything’s a lost cause. What later turns out to be the final death blow, at the time, feels like nothing more than another stray blank.
From this year on, things are different. The aimlessness and disorientation’s the same, but I can tread water for hours now and not care less. Digging in itself eventually either gets there, or drops me into an escape tunnel someone else must have dug. There I was, feeling lost and in the middle of nowhere, and now here I am with my feet up. What was seconds ago hopeless is now success. Another painting for the pile. I win again. Let’s go again. Only printmaking’s easier than this.
Printmaking can go irretrievably wrong, but also unlike painting, its route to the finish line is plain to see from the off. The Olympic runner, Michael Johnson described the pivotal moment of his youth, when he knew for sure he had the opportunity and ability, and that all that was left to do, was do it. As far as what he could control was concerned, he was unstoppable. In a similar interview, Billy Corgan describes the face-slap realisation that his pipe dream wasn’t a pipe dream. He’d just written Crush. It was good. The rest you could train a monkey to do.
My pipe dream was that one day, I’d find a use for the woodcuts I’d done for a storybook that was never to be. Now I’ve read Monsieur Tourette Awakens in Mid-Tic: a retaliatory fiction, what I must do now is staring me right in the face. This is printmaking, not painting. I can clearly see the predestined outcome. Success may too be guaranteed with painting, but printmaking’s trustless. A single click peer-to-peer transaction between myself and art. Printmaking’s Bitcoin.
My favourite painters, I’m sure from their work, were only ever completely lost, painting their way out of seemingly inevitable oblivion. Printmaker’s couldn’t stomach too much of this. Nothing’s binary in these dark cosmos painters. Old man Picasso, Cezanne, Klee and Miro. I’m equally sure the originality they found was haplessly stumbled upon, and that they only ended up there by trusting their urges and seeing where it took them. I’m also equally sure they received and felt no encouragement nor advance indications that they were ever, even on to something. I imagine this was a good thing. I’m sure again, that after every painting they found themselves back at square one, having learned nothing of apparent use from any of their previous experiences. So few painters seem to paint like this. It’s all tricks, safety nets and waffle from the illustration brigade. Glass ceiling art. All pretty good and never rubbish. Perfect for contemporary art galleries.
I’m so sure of all this working-in-the-dark because that’s how it is for me, so it must have been the same for them. If it wasn’t, I’d be able to tell, and wouldn’t feel any real connection to their work. That I do feel such connection to these four historical artists in particular, proves everything I suppose about them is true, and that everything I suppose about others is also true. All my favourite paintings look like Dunkirk rescue jobs. I don’t believe it’s possible to paint a better painting any other way. Painting’s gold.
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