I have been reading a book about art and a particular artist that I think may be the best book on the subject I've ever come across. "seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees" by Lawrence Weschler - over thirty years of conversations with Robert Irwin. Robert Irwin is perhaps best known for his conceptual work but he started out as a painter in the 40's. Reading about his career and his thinking has given me a new look at what abstract and conceptual artists are trying to do. Mr. Irwin wants people to have an experience when they encounter his work, to come away with a savouring of what they have experienced. He says,
"It's strange. With food, for instance, people seem able to understand what's involved: you savor the taste rather than just feed the body. But people have a hard time understanding that it should be the same way with visual experience."
As a result of this book I am full of the same excitement I remember feeling when I was starting out and the openness to different kind of visual experiences is incredibly fascinating. It isn't about representation, realism, abstraction, or conception...it's about seeing.
And now I am at the point in this piece where I have to "see" where it's going and what I want it to do. Do I allow the foliage and flowers to gradually blend away into soft focus or make a complete image with fully realized background? What is painting a lot of green stuff around the face going to do to the impact it has right now? Too tired to decide now. Tomorrow. I'll think about it tomorrow:-)