Language is a visually impaired medium and painting is a verbally impaired medium, so writing about painting is like drawing about a book. It can be done, and even done well, but the results are often unsatisfactory, especially when it is the painter doing the writing.
The impairment of translating between media is further compounded by the issue of time: the artist's impetus and goals -- in any medium -- are constantly shifting. The very act of working changes the direction of the work, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes radically. How then is a visual artist supposed to write about his work in a meaningful way?
The safest approach seems to be describing some conscious assumptions that underlie my painting process:
- The goal of painting is to make a compelling image.
- Painting is something humans do, not machines, therefore evidence of the artist's hand is a good thing.
- Failure is essential because it is evidence that there is risk and experimentation happening.
- A painting should reflect the era it was created in, yet still be meaningful to future viewers.
- A painting is an object that one can live with.
Other than the specific use of paint, all of that might seem too vague to be meaningful. But painting is an activity that spans a lifetime, therefore an artist statement should be flexible enough to last that long, and open enough to still make sense regardless of what the artist creates. Specifics are best left to statements about the paintings themselves, i.e. concrete objects that can be discussed in concrete terms.