Arture #6

Some Loose Thoughts on Painting

David Russon

The most important color in my painting has always been black. It doesn’t matter if your mother told you that black doesn’t really exist. That’s like believing you’ll never die just because you happen to be alive.

I paint like I live, hounded by the suspicion that I’m nothing but an impostor, simply not quite real. This used to terrorize me to the point of paralysis, but it’s been getting better. These days I don’t even blush when I tell people that I’m a painter.

If you’re scared of dogs, as I am, and one of them comes up and barks in your face, your best strategy is to pull yourself together, bend down and pat the animal on its head with a friendly smile so that it goes away to bark at someone else. I try to do the same when a voice in my head tells me that the painting I’m working on is no good.

My favorite painter is probably Franz Kline. His work is strange for me in that I don’t even care to find anything out about him or about what others may have written on his work. I’m just happy to be blown away whenever I see one of his paintings.

I recently took a four-year-break from painting to study philosophy, and people always ask me what I learned. One conclusion I reached is that rational inquiry is impossible if you don’t already believe in something beforehand. Which is just another way of saying that nothing can ever fully make sense.

We all know that any painting is just a flat surface coated with a pigmented emulsion of some kind. There’s nothing behind it. The better a painting, the less sense it makes.

The greatest influence on my work is music. I’d be nowhere without it. And I have no problem approaching a painting, mine or anyone else’s, as if it were a song.

I almost always work from photos, and I have not yet found out why some images work for me while others don’t. The process of selecting the photos I end up using is entirely obscure to me.

I’d guess that over the years, I’ve destroyed as many paintings as I’ve kept, meaning a few hundred of each. Behind every work I show, there’s one torn to pieces rotting away in a dump somewhere.



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