What is the What

by | Apr 4, 2020 | The Hungry Eye

What is it that a painting is? Illusion, replication, metaphor, cry from the heart, social intervention? Recently a comment about one of my pictures got me off on a long ride through such thoughts. It was mentioned that the painting might be seen as metaphor but this viewer just wanted to go there. Now I have had people think that my pictures have hidden meanings, even to the point that one person was affronted by not being on the inside track. But truthfully there is no subterfuge, there is only what is… for me. For me it is all truth. It is not metaphoric or symbolic. Quite a few of my pictures are sourced from dreams. But they, also, are just the truth of the matter. The matter not being evident as evidence is unimportant. Evidence is in the making. Once it is made it exists, it becomes what you see. That is not the same as what is my head is then in your eyes and your head. It is the same magic as language. I think something, my brain makes it into words and my mouth makes sounds that travel through the air to an ear and that ear gives them to their brain, who then understands, or not. And if I’m lucky does the reverse to create a response. After studying Chinese for many years I often think about such, especially when I actually do understand what I’m hearing and manage a response in kind. It’s simply magic. So looking at a painting is similar. It just is not parsed in sound, it is delivered in images. It is accepted how it is accepted. I always hope that it will be received as real. As just another truth encountered. It is up to me to make that memorable.

This is a small watercolor I did recently. It is about pink and hands, receiving or giving or both. Does it have a narrative? Well, it could. I don’t have any one scenario in mind. Feel free to see yours. I see the truth of pink, in this case, vaporous rising/and or descending pink. As each glimpse of the whole says it all, in the sense of the shattered holographic image’s shard carrying the whole within, pink is universal. Hands are universal.


Even more recently I have been doing a quick series of cloud & water pictures. They have an actual physical source, an actual beach with actual fantastical clouds. Are they any more real than the pink & hands?


They all are as real as the paint used to make them. And I don’t just mean the objectness of them. I mean the illusion each one carries: a place, a void, a mess of strokes or an action, and on and on. The illusion of the beach is tangible to me. If I look at this, done just the other day in response to the previous water & cloud paintings, it is just as tangible a place:


Ditto this wholly invented seascape or fire-in-the-water or bunch of colors slurred together image:

Taking a rather dramatic zig we have this picture titled: Fairytale. It was inspired by an Irish fairytale and then spun through my head and spit out like this:

Again, for me it is real. The cat, the tree, the water birds and the swimming man…. I know them. They are important enough to spend months depicting in a form that others can see, like tearing a whole in the curtain of oblivion to see a scrap of the illuminated real. Not that anything we see daily could not be that, but I feel compelled to coalesce my version into a permanent thing.

House of Whim is another that has an illusion of depth and place, yet the action is unusual. Do you want to visit? I feel that I have, I am. It is one of my ten thousand mansions or vistas living in me or perhaps better phrased: existing as me. Please feel free to join in. That is the whole point of it…. the what of the what.