Sunday, August 17, 2008

Repetition

"What would life be like if there were no repetition?" -- Kierkegaard

Morning Sounds III, 2008, oil on canvas, 24x24 inches
© 2008 Diane McGregor

Repetition is the foundation of my art and my world. In my personal life, I thrive on routine: watching the sun rise over the distant mesas, feeding my animals and the wild birds, enjoying my morning tea, listening to the wind in the pines. I live a very structured life and I love it. In my art, my technical objective is Beauty through repetition. As I evolve in my artistic development, minimalism becomes more and more important to me as a language, as an aesthetic, and as a superior goal to strive for. The minimalist gaze is one of repetitive constructs -- I think of Donald Judd and Agnes Martin, two of my favorite artists. That purity of language, the simplicity of clean lines or repeating forms -- this is what is so seductive to me about the minimalist aesthetic. I try to have faith that if I keep at the painting, repeating each brushstroke, repeating its number, that there will come a moment when harmony is born and recognized, and then the painting is on its way to completion.

Repetition is a function of time. In the act of repeating brushstroke after brushstroke, one is essentially exposing temporality for the the viewer. Painting is a very different art form from music, poetry, or even sculpture. There is the time element, a sequence of cognition as one hears each musical notation, or reads each word of a poem, or, in the case of sculpture, walks around the piece, taking it in one section at a time. An abstract painting is all there, at once, simultaneously referencing color, light, pathos, meaning. It hits the viewer with a force of suspended time; that is, in a moment the viewer can "get it" or not -- the painting does not necessarily require a temporal experience to inhabit meaning. However, I believe that minimalist art, through repetition, articulates time to the viewer, and, like a chant, the painting can slowly reveal itself to the viewer in a way that is meditative and uplifting.

4 comments:

Jennifer J L Jones said...

I'm really enjoying your blog! And what a gorgeous painting!! :-)

Rebecca Crowell said...

I'm struck by a similarity to meditation in that in a repetitive process, you don't follow impulsive or extraneous ideas. Maybe you observe them happening but don't allow them to overtake you. So the painting becomes a manifestation of that mental discipline.

On the other hand, it seems like intuition and exploration do have a role, or else how would you arrive at your particular unique way of painting, or allow for changes in your imagery such as you have had recently? Is it that they happen more at the beginning of a process, when you decide on your parameters?
Or do they happen as you go, but very slowly and subtly so that at some point you just realize they have happened?

In other words, I'm curious about how change happens in your work?

Marina Broere said...

Diane,
wonderful to have found your blog (through Rebecca's)
I share your views on meditation and painting in that painting is kind of meditation for me, aside from the real meditation time. However for me there is no repetition in there but more reacting to inspirations that come through the painting. How different we all are in our work and how interesting to hear about our different working methods!
A beautiful title for a gorgeous painting, by the way!

Diane McGregor said...

Thank you all for your comments and postive feedback!

Rebecca, the changes in my imagery and technique are rather recent, only since the beginning of this year; the repetitive process I'm using now is relatively new for me and I'm still working out the system. I used to paint very intuitively without any self-imposed rules. And yes, I still do allow for intuition and exploration -- they are very important to my process. The changes that occur over the course of a painting happen very slowly and subtly, and I'm constantly moving back and forth between raw inspiration and maintaining the grid. You've brought up some good observations, and I'll explore these issues more fully in a future post. Stay tuned....

With regard to Marina's comment about meditation -- painting is my only meditation practice. I have not been successful in stilling my mind during sitting meditation. It was very frustrating for me. But as I've allowed myself to embrace this technique of a repetitive process in my art, I've been able to quiet my mind and enter that meditative state.