Common Dreams

Painting Andrew Conti

“I’ve always had the feeling that art is nourished by the common and ordinary. Picassso drew constantly from the common. I have a feeling that in America a lot of good art may come out of this impulse.”

Philip Guston

I’ve been thinking for sometime now that I need to spend less time thinking while I paint. Far too often I start analyzing myself as I’m painting, stepping back a bit too often, thinking about what I’m doing a bit too much.

There is always a need somehow for an idea. For something to hold me to a particular track that I’m working on. What forms? What colors? What concept? The challenge for myself has always been to hold things together, to make all this work somehow in the grand scheme of things I’ve concocted for my work.

But more often lately, I find myself simply wanting to let all of it go. To just spend some time looking and acting, not to spend time thinking or analyzing.

At some point, abstraction and the object aren’t that different. They aren’t different at all. A book, a pencil, a mug, a chair. It gets hard to say that they are objective, but the circle, the square, the triangle and any other form are abstract. So, I start to wonder if it is of any importance at all to differentiate?

I hear friends in my head say it is important. They say to me that what one paints is always the most important decision. How can you make an image without knowing what the image is. But I am less and less certain.

The idea of giving up ideas, of letting intentions float away and just figuring it out in the process of figuring it out has a growing appeal to me. When you’re painting, something always happens. The paint always takes you somewhere.

So I spend time drawing and painting from whatever is in front of me. Late night sketches of my feet, or shoes, or desk, or books. Whatever is there. Ephemera? Perhaps, but it always seems to be there when I wake up. The material of my life in some many ways.

These are the common things of my day. Are they without idea? I’m not so sure. They wouldn’t make a good Hollywood movie, that might be true, but I haven’t seen a Hollywood movie that really moved or surprised me in – well a very long time.

So, I allow myself to just go to what I find. To recognize that it is full of importance to me. And despite this focus on what we might say is the common, all kinds of  ideas seem to come out with it. The mind fills the gaps and the monsters return, the bodies take form, and all ideas I may have wanted seem to show up by themselves.

Painting is weird.