Painting is the Experience

'A painting is not a picture of an experience, but is the experience.'
Mark Rothko

I really resonate with this quote from Mark Rothko.  For so much of contemporary art is about the relationship of color, shape, value, and form but much of that work goes deeper than that.  The painting that is created from the depths of an artist's soul is more that the formal elements that create it.  The work that embodies the emotions, intent, and spirit of the artist gives us so much more to s/he who created it and s/he who views it.  It becomes a sacred space where two souls can converge to relate and resonate with what makes us human.  The experience of painting, the moments where paint and brush hit the canvas, translates what is inside of the artist; it is the essence of the creative force that makes the work.  It then becomes the experience.  The remnant of that experience is what lies on the canvas.
It is sometimes raw, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes tragic.  For the human existence is all those things.  Our lives can be messy, chaotic and yet beautiful within it.  Mark Rothko did not make paintings to be pretty, he created paintings to show the emotions of the human condition.  Rothko states, 'I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.'  
His work captivates the soul for it reaches beyond formal qualities and gets down to the essence of who we are.  I've stood before his work in awe of what he created.  Some paintings are sheer delights while others are truly tragic, evoking tears.  Rothko was able to create work that speaks to us at the deepest level of our beings.  He transcends words and puts feelings onto the canvas, allowing us to enter his world and join ours with him. 
I desire the same thing with my painting.  Yes, it's a lofty goal but one that I hope I attain.  I want my work to speak and allow others to enter into a sacred space where the union of our spirits occurs.  I want to paint  that which is inside of me that can relate to another.  I want to paint the human condition in a way that evokes the desire to remain with the work, to say to it, 'Yes'.  I want the experience - for myself and others. So, I'll be painting away.  Until next time, create, be blessed, and enjoy. 


Mark Rothko
Four Darks in Red
Whitney Museum of American Art


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