Fragments of Light

The Work of Seeing​, Part 2

My sense of calling as a painter is tied irrevocably to my love of color, form, light, and maybe even especially of paint itself. Annie Dillard, the writer of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, was once asked what was most important to becoming a writer. She replied without thinking that it was love of words. Interesting that she didn’t say love of meaning, or love of messages. Somehow it is the material, the matter, the thing-ness of things that must be loved into form. Absent a love of paint the painter would be little more than an illustrator of verbal ideas.

—Bruce Herman, quoted in Magnificat, the catalog for an exhibition of the artist’s works: Magnificat, Paintings on the Life of the Virgin Mary, and Woman; 2008.

Thinking about the role of seeing in the creation of form​ it seems that what the painter sees is seen through the lens of paint. Pablo Picasso, a great lover of paint​,​ once said​, “Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.”
​Comments welcome.​

One thought on “The Work of Seeing​, Part 2

  1. I remember on BBC once hearing Simon Schama talking about his visit to the Tate Gallery in 1970 to see Mark Rothko’s Seagram’s Murals. He said, “No, it wasn’t love at first sight…I wasn’t sure where I was being taken. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go. I only knew that I had no choice.” Look at the words Bruce Herman uses here… “calling” “irrevocably” “love”… There’s a certain aspect of the non-negotiable in the making of art, and in the experience of what has been made.

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