Flatiron painting in Studio Eidolons

When I walk into the art studio, my entire life comes with me. Leaning over the surface of the painting, my soul’s voice calls out over the canyon of consciousness, and the echoing cry of memories returns.

David Tripp, journal entry

With puddles of wet watercolor scattered about the surface of this 16 x 20″ painting, I need to walk away awhile and let it set up lest I lay my hand in one of the pools and screw up the painting.

Earlier this morning, over coffee, I re-opened a book, Barnett Newman’s Selected Writings and Interviews. I was rocked by the following quote from his essay, “The New Sense of Fate”–

Those who believe that classicism is possible are the same who feel that art is the flower of society rather than its root.

The context of this quote was Newman’s contrast between ancient Greek notions of art vs. a more primitive one (in this case, Egyptian). Newman concluded that Egyptian art was more primal whereas Greek was decorative. Whereas, for the Egyptians art was the root of their expression, for the Greeks, it was their flower. Newman discussed whether art was a root or flower for society. I chose to think more personally about the matter. Is art my root or my flower? To use Newman’s categories, does art flow out of a sense of tragedy, or is it decorative, for me? I began writing in my own journal about the role of art in my own history, hence the quote opening this blog entry.

Newman’s essay contrasts his own culture of art viscerally responding to the horrors of World War II with other cultures that wished to create beauty and calm. Newman, believing the world could come to an end, could not paint flowers or pretty things (he said in an interview). While reading this, I thought of Henri Matisse who endured two world wars yet refused to respond to them. Rather he chose to paint vivid, colorful compositions, hoping to emit an atmosphere of calm.

When I make art, I am calling forth my entire life. The way I see it, I endured many personal tragedies that rocked me for decades (as I’m certain most people have). But I also was conscious of beauty and calm, and have been blessed with a quality education. Hence, I truly believe my art is more romantic than tragic, more calm than visceral, and I truly believe that when I practice making art, the experience indeed flows from my root, but the calm side, not the tragic. If the result of my art is calm and beautiful, then I’m grateful for that. But the end result, to me, is never as profound as the process which springs from a primal root that has not been eroded by a life of tragedy.

If I were a more seasoned writer, I would let this one cook awhile longer and refine it. But I’m a blogger so I’m sending it up the flagpole. If I need to restate it later, I probably will. The painting is dry and I’m ready to get back after it.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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