who’s in there with us?

From when I was a child, growing up riding horses, the only thing I wanted to draw was a horse. I’d work on a drawing and then show it to my father. He would look at it, explain the anatomy – how the hip bone was connected (information that was way over my head) and then correct my drawing. I could NEVER draw a horse that didn’t need correction.

To this day, when I draw a horse, my mind gets in the way – I’m sure it must need correction.

I read a while ago a passage by Philip Guston. If you know his paintings, which I love, you will be familiar with the very odd figures in his late work. Someone was asking him how he dared be so bold? In reply, he described what happened as he painted: (again my paraphrase from memory): “When I begin my work, me alone in the studio in actuality – in my mind I have everyone I ever knew in there with me, including my first grade teacher all the way up through the NYT critics – all of them making comments in my head, telling me this/saying that: ‘n’yah – n’yah-n’yah-n’yah-n’yah’. As I go along and I get deeper into my work, they slowly drop away and it becomes quieter and quieter until at some point … it’s just me. Me and my painting.”

Okay, those are definitely not HIS words, but the idea of all those OTHERS there at first, that was his idea. Oh, the mind. When we need it and when we don’t.