Other artists' thoughts on and approaches to art making

Vija Celmins:

from 'Drawing as Thinking' conversations and notebooks, 1999

'In the studio, when things go well, there is no question of meaning... of what one means or what a work means. No meaning seems right. 'Meaningful' seems the wrong focus and the wrong question.'

'Aside from art, I have found nature one of the most amazing and comforting things to me. I usually don't think of nature as a source of danger, I think of it as a place of discovery. I am inspired by it, I depend on it, it's raw material for me'

from 'Night Sky' in conversation with Anne Seymour, 2001

" I'm re-inscribing the image in another medium that's real, that has some substance. It's like an act of imaging something real thoroughly in another medium' (- I like this as it relates to my thoughts on transcribing and making 'equivalents'. They are not pictures of things but new real things in themselves. KM)

"I let the drawing go where it takes me. There are millions of decisions of course when you're working on something, so I try to be alive and present for that moment. It's a kind of record of moments of attention" (Suspension of/into attention/ perception? KM)

Joan Mitchell, retrospective catalogue essay

Joan Mitchell said "It comes from and is about landscape, not about me" Yet notwithstanding the clues scattered through the paintings and titles, there is, at heart, something stubbornly self-contained about these works. Paint and gesture operate on their own, engendering a visual language specific to those paintings and to that artist.

"George Went Swimming, executed in her studio on St. Mark's Place in New York, seems to reflect a mix of turmoil and pleasure. Sandler felt, based on his discussions with Mitchell, that this painting was, in part, an attempt to capture the experience of a storm on water."

"While George Went Swimming is scarcely a literal depiction of water, it recapitulates a remembrance of, and a reaction to, nature. Sandler says of her work in general, "She appears to have been driven to recapture in her abstractions, the intensity of emotions associated with certain scenes in the past. As she once said about a work: `I'm trying to remember what I felt about a certain cypress tree.'" (4)

The exhibition's curator, Jane Livingston, in her catalogue essay, speaks of Mitchell's "strange inarticulateness" when it came to talking about her work. "She kept insisting that feeling a place, transforming a memory, recording something specifically recalled from experience, with all its intense light and joy and perhaps anguish, was what she was doing. She seemed to assume that everyone would understand what she meant." (5) Mitchell's rhetoric may seem imprecise, but it speaks to the very distance that abstraction establishes between the painting and the subject, and reflects the multiplicity or blurring of intentions around which her work is structured. In Mitchell's hands, landscape elements, however stylized, can convey feeling, form, memory and a depiction simultaneously."

Judy Millar interviewed by Robert Leonard about her show at AAG

"I like the idea of paintings unravelling, coming unstuck. I’d become uncomfortable with the all-over nature of my painting, its limitations. I’d been trying to find a way through, which is incredibly hard. If you are not using a clear representational composition you have a problem, how are you going to organise the painting? We had the grid for a long time and we had the all-over. Perhaps there’s another way. For some time I’ve been thinking I could make paintings by simply accumulating actions, bringing different marks – signs of different attitudes – into play. Now I’m thinking of my paintings like construction sites. You see how things are placed on a construction site. On the one hand it’s chaotic, on the other it has this necessity to it. Clear decisions have been made to put this here, that there, but there’s no overarching governing idea."

"That painting is the most composed, but you can’t really account for its logic. And that’s what I enjoy. It evolved out of purely painterly decision-making, where one thing leads to another to another. That’s what I mean by accumulation. You can register complex notions of time in a painting. Paintings are made over time; they are compressions of traces in time. Paintings can be taken in in an instant but also unpacked slowly."

"Painting is always illusionistic and that’s its magic. Greenberg was wrong: flat painting is not possible. You put a mark on a surface and immediately you have an illusion. Painting is a virtual medium; as a viewer you project yourself into its fictive spaces."

"Sure, part of painting is good technique. Sometimes I feel like a tennis player. I can put in a good day’s work just practicing my strokes. But there has to be more to it than the well rehearsed. Registered on the painting’s surface, there has to be a desire to find out. So, while you have a notion of what you want, and while you’ve rehearsed it to some extent, the decisions on the canvas have to be fresh. And if they aren’t, it shows, absolutely. Good technique really comes down to being better at finding things out."