“Of course I doubt myself all the time, but I must obey my instincts, they are the only things I can trust. I was thinking last night as I sat by the stove reading the journals of last year how suspicious I am of whatever “procedure” I’m involved with at a certain period in painting. When I was working from “master” reproductions I was afraid I’d never do anything original. When I was painting from photographs I was afraid I’d never work from nature again. When the work was more agitated I hated its “expressionism” and wanted more calm. And now that it’s more calm I fear it’s not emotional enough. When I take a long time on a picture and struggle a great deal I hate the agony and suspect I’m over-working. And when it comes easily I fear facility.”
Continuing on my New York School reading binge, I recently finished The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov. Superbly edited by Mira Schor, this collection of his writing, from published works to more private musing in journals and letters, comes highly recommended.
“My hope is to confront the picture without a ready technique or prepared attitude—a condition which is nevertheless never completely attainable; to have no program and, necessarily then, no preconceived style. To paint no Tworkovs.” – Jack Tworkov, from a journal entry dated March 3, 1958
“The consciousness of the personal and spontaneous… stimulated the artist to invent devices of handling, processing, surfacing, which confer to the utmost degree the aspect of the freely made. Hence the importance of the mark, the stroke, the brush, the drip, the quality of the substance of the paint itself, and the surface of the canvas as a texture and field of operation – all signs of the artist’s active presence….. The impulse . . . becomes tangible and definite on the surface of a canvas through the painted mark. We see, as it were, the track of emotion, its obstruction, persistence or extinction…. (E)lements of so-called chance or accident [are] submitted to critical control by the artist who is alert to the rightness and wrongness of the elements delivered spontaneously, and accepts or rejects them.”
quoted by Irving Sandler in A Sweeper-Up After Artists: A Memoir.
“Hybrid forms are more obvious now … perhaps the symbol bank is near capacity and the only alternative is exploration of ideas reflecting off the surfaces of other ideas. Or perhaps this is what the creative process has always been about and now, for some reason, it has become visible in conscious application.” - Jon Hassell