two from the ultimate painter's painter...
being fascinated by process, i have to acceed to and fight through all the processes involved in painting or drawing or whatever. in drawing the small pencil studies, for instance, i have a positive and very real - and lasting (it never flags) delight in overcoming the grain of the paper for my ends. this leads only too easily to some sort of "fix" on the process - and in times of confusion and weakness of purpose it can take over. but i cannot overcome this by simply saying to myself to myself that i must play down the process - overlook, for instance, areas where the paper is particularly recalcitrant, and go on to the "next" thing. once i've even become aware of something wrong - a weakness in the drawing where the process is not working wholly to my ends, that has to be changed, no matter how unnoticeable to anyone else, no matter what! not because hte drawing couldn't, possibly, be completed satisfactorily without doing it, but because i can't even see what else there is to be done until i have done it!
october 25, 1965
i believe that flatness (as of the canvas, for instance) is something we never see, but only know. the eyes are not constructed to see flatness, and we come nearer knowing it through the sense of touch. if this is true, the basis of our apprehension of a painting has a duality of see-touch, or maybe better - touch-see, which sets up what is probably the primary, vivifying tension on the basis of which the "living" - the "created" quality of a painting depends.
if this is so, is this why i must pay such endless and infinite attention to the topography of the paint on my canvas?
from the journals of myron stout