The Joy of Painting
“All art is erotic.” Gustav Klimt
I should say right from the off that this post is interactive and demands your concentration. When reading the quotes, it will be necessary for you to on occasion, mentally substitute the word “painting” for the word “sex” and then all will become clear. In reconnecting with my graphic past, I re-visited all my old painting heroes including Emile Nolde and Schiele whose works on paper I have much admired. With a view to painting again I sent for two books as inspiration. When the Egon Schiele one arrived I was surprised to find his brilliantly graphic and highly erotic images, not the ones I remembered. At the same time my insatiable paint lust kicked in after a long dormant and what has begun to feel increasingly like (in painting terms) a period of cellibacy.
“The artist’s experience lies so unbelievably close to the sexual, to its pain and its pleasure, that the two phenomena are really just different forms of one and the same longing and bliss.” Rainer Maria Rilke
Buying new paints, and poring over paper samples was painfully exquisite and excitement began to mount at the prospect of painting again. I chose a time when I had the house to myself and laid everything out with military precision. And it really is like riding a bike; you don’t lose such an engrained and loved activity easily. I spent the next seven hours oblivious to everything except my hand holding the brush and the feeling of a cycle, previously broken, knitting up and beginning again.
“Sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which they cannot perform for any motive but their own enjoyment.” Anne Rand
These new works were intended to be mark making exercises, process driven but felt more like automatic drawing in paint, where the work seemed to have its own agenda and all I had to do was let it happen.
“Sex is a spiritual experience.” Deepak Chopra
The paintings opposite are a selection of that evening’s work-evidence of my renewed love affair with paint. The works were all constrained by rules in some way like for example the number and length of strokes in batches and the lines having to interconnect and bleed in to each other. However the use of colour was unrestrained random preference.
There’s nothing better than good sex. But bad sex? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than bad sex.” Billy Joel
I used a disciplined approach with the idea that constrained rule based work followed by working with no rules, would enhance freedom of expression. Things didn’t quite work out like that however as the latter pieces (not shown) became chaotic. I still went to bed in the early hours feeling elated and satisfied with a knowing certainty that the flow would come back in its own time.
When people read erotic symbols into my painting, they’re really thinking about their own affairs. Georgia O’keeffe
Today I have a new but very familiar callous that has recently appeared on the second finger of my painting (left) hand, I will make sure that it never goes away again, through lack of contact with pencil or brush.
“When it comes to sex, the most important six inches are the ones between the ears.” Dr Ruth Westheimer