I never buy the Financial Times. But it was pink, it was in the olden days when I was at an airport traveling and I wanted to read the feature on David Hockney and that is when I saw this haunting quote:
Unfortunately they gave up teaching painting and drawing. What’s going to happen? If you stopped teaching mathematics, bridges would fall down.
-David Hockney, Financial Times June 26, 2016
I’ve thought so much about the reality of this quote over the twenty five years I’ve spent wrestling with a brush, a surface and the infinite colors and effects I’ve sought to create with paint. I’ve had such wonderful teachers dead and alive that help me knit together a foundation of knowledge, but never found everything in one place, nor one that addressed the styles and urges of contemporary art picture making. I don’t want to paint like the old masters, the old masters already did that.
I get it on some level, all the reasons so much of the branches on this beautiful tree were left to die. Puh puh. God forbid craft should get in the way of “creative self expression”. There actually are things you can do to make it easier to articulate on a canvas what you can see in your mind’s eye. Ah, to paint… whether to be precise or to fling that color.
All a painter wants in the end is to be free.
Paintings are built layer by layer and go far beyond filling in a line drawing with colors. Artists, too, gain layers of knowledge, and the right ones at the right depth provide the very base to achieve that which the artist ultimately wants – that freedom. Making many paintings, including ones that suck along the way, the ones you never see in the history books, is how an artist can find their voice and discover anew way of being.
I’ve spent the last year building the curriculum I wish I had. I usually offer each class only occasionally but in light of this crisis, they’re all open now and I invite you to check them out here:
Whether beginning, expanding or finding your voice, I hope to see some of you on the yellow diving board pictured above.
Los Angeles 2020