WORDS INTO PAINT

Using words as art has a very long tradition – try the Egyptians for starters and then go back in history! Modern users include Christopher Wool, John Baldessari, Mel Bochner, Jasper Johns, Greg Curnoe, and many others. It seems to be a bit of a fashion these days. I’m interested in using words because I’ve already liked doing it for years, and I used to write as an art critic, a job I loved except that it ate too much into painting time. I’ve published my poems and drawings in a book called Counterpane. I continue to make lists and memo headings with drawn letters of the alphabet, in my own style with capital letters. I’ve recently been drawing short statements on small pieces of good paper and painting them and their surrounds with gouache. The first one simply said HAVE SOME FUN, and was a release from the serious art world, whose demands have to be constantly avoided. Making it was so much fun that I am continuing this series.

Now I’m collecting short statements about art and also about the state of the world as I see it, and despite the serious content I am having even more fun combining lettering/painting with pithy phrases. They seem to be staying a small size for the moment, though perhaps I might find an interesting reason for doing them larger, other than the silly fact that large paintings are thought to be more important and of course sell for more money. More words per painting might be one reason for working larger, though my writing experience suggests brevity. I’ll just see how it goes!

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