Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Chuck Close on the importance of limitations

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After the first pass, the painting is wrong—at least in that it’s not complete yet. Because it’s a face, I can’t leave it turquoise, I can’t leave it purple. I love having rights and wrongs. You have to hang in there until you get it to read correctly. I just work intuitively and start making corrections. The colors combine like words into a sentence, or notes into a chord. Then I’ll rotate the painting so that a different axis is up. That allows me to reanalyze all the shapes and colors. The system seems totally mechanical and so systematized, but in fact the thing about limitations like these is that they free you to be more spontaneous and intuitive. The painting is always in a state of flux. It’s a process well-suited to me, because I’m a nervous wreck. I’m a slob. I have a short attention span. All of which would seem to guarantee that I wouldn’t make work like this, but in fact it relaxes me. There’s something Zen-like about the way I work—it’s like raking gravel in a Zen Buddhist garden.

Chuck Close, to The Atlantic

Written by nevalalee

October 15, 2011 at 12:06 am

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