It is Easy to Repeat, but Hard to Originate

Archer City Hudson Beginning

Archer City Hudson Beginning

It is easy to repeat, but hard to originate, . . . we may easily multiply the forms of the outward; but to give the within outwardness, that is not easy.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, February 2, 1841

The Abstract Expressionist painters of the 1940’s and 50’s despaired of Thoreau’s sentiment posted above. Abandoning visual subject matter in order to focus on painting expressively their feelings and emotions, they wrote and spoke of the difficulty of expressing the inward, when they had no external props.  Having been an abstract painter in my earlier years, I knew that difficulty then, as I know it now.  However, returning to recognizable subject matter has not gotten me off the hook where expression is concerned.  I recognize the difficulty of being “orginal” when I paint representationally.  In fact, to borrow from one contemporary painter’s published remarks, this style of art tends to make artists of my caliber “dinosaurs.”

But the issue I address here goes beyond style or classification.  I am speaking of inward expression.  I realize that when I paint objects representationally, my work could be viewed as illustration, and my artistry could be assessed in terms of skill or technique.  Edward Hopper wondered if viewers looking upon his work would feel the emotions he felt while creating the work.  I believe that as he got older, he stopped worrying about it and just continued to paint.  I think that is where I am emotionally as well.  But, since I am blogging, and some are reading, I will say this again–I am painting things that hold my attention, things that draw me in, because they are assoicated with warm, Proustian, primal memories from my childhood that I love to re-visit.   I miss the curvilinear, full-bodied automobiles from my childhood.  I most notably miss the Hudson.  When Sal Paradise asked Dean Moriarty how he got from the west coast to the east so fast, Dean answered: “Ah, man, that Hudson goes!”  Ever since I read Kerouac’s On the Road, I haven’t been able to pass an abandoned filling station without envisioning those anti-heroes pulling a Hudson up to the pumps, and dashing inside to steal cigarettes while the attendant pumped their gas to send them back out onto the road.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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3 Responses to “It is Easy to Repeat, but Hard to Originate”

  1. lifeofawillow Says:

    I like the places your writing takes me too. Your paintings make them even bolder yet.


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