meditations on painting

December 2014 newsletter

Convergence, 24" x 60.5" on two archival panels, private collection.

Convergence, 24" x 60.5" on two archival panels, private collection.

There sometimes isn't a lot to say or do. One might see the future on the horizon or want to be more active here and now, but life presents a different, more subdued plan. Such has it been of late. It's the Quiet Time, when I'm faced with the specter of painting little and waiting as the body and mind catch up from the previous year's bustle. In the past, these times were disconcerting because I didn't know whether or how I would emerge – and was less in tune with the necessity of rest and regeneration. I still feel uneasy when the paintings pause and the studio goes quiet: what will come after the Quiet Time? But I know now to let it unfold at its own pace, and for the time being get about the work of cleaning and catching up on all that I wasn't able to finish during the year. It's time to focus on replenishing the stores and building a better foundation. So in the last month there has been hardly any painting; mostly assessing and recalibrating, planning, and taking space from it all......

See the entire December 2014 newsletter – with more images, a couple exhibition announcements, and video – here. You can also sign up to receive Jivan's newsletters directly in your inbox here. You'll get one every month or two and can easily unsubscribe.

More thoughts on process - May 2014

A few years ago I wrote an artist statement on process that said: "when painting I'm brought back to simplicities, back to my senses, and in a way, back to life." I called painting an "act of simplification...and devotion," a "trust fall of sorts... that dissolves the excess in my psyche and leaves me clearer in mind and heart." As I recently read through this, everything rang true and yet something substantial felt lost in the neatness and romance. Everything felt a little too certain. A little too well-manicured. Painting, like love and life, is also work – hard, uncertain, and surprising work.

At its truest, I believe, the process is messy, gritty, and beautiful. As much as it is profoundly revealing, inspiring, and delightful, it is also rife with miscues, distractions, frustration, quiet defeats, and outright failures. There is the mucking about of it. The grumbling effort of it. The discomfort of regularly extending beyond one’s safety zone into the unknown; of being ground down and humbled. Or the suffering when one resists inspiration’s invitation, and in so doing, loses the thread of what is vital and pulsing. These often aren't "pretty" moments to look in on. Personal demons and ego and triggers rise and shout from the hidden nooks and crannies. Fear and worry wiggle about in it all.....

Statement on process - 2013

When painting I'm brought back to simplicities, back to my senses, and in a way, back to life. To surrender scripted plans and just listen and look, not knowing what will come, is a trust-fall of sorts and an act of devotion. On the good days this practice dissolves the excess in my psyche and leaves me clearer in mind and heart. It’s something I believe can translate to others through a finished work.

In a time filled with so much that can leave us far from the subtle pulse of a day, acts of simplification – for me, painting – seem like time well spent....