My art teacher said something really interesting to me the other day. She said, “Painting is like making up the rules to your own game.” Right off the bat I was really confused by this analogy. How could writing down a bunch of rules have to do anything with art? It was my second day of class and I was already starting to get a little bit disappointed and not to mention, intimidated at the fact that the Zoom screen did not hide her incredibly wide eyes. She was ecstatic talking about this but all I was thinking is wow she drinks too much coffee. By now, I had fallen into the assumption that she was one of those art teachers who the moment you walk into class, has already deeply submerged herself into the task of convincing her unfortunate early students of her abstract ideas. The poor students almost want to cry and run out but she can’t tell, no. She is now in her own world and lost full awareness of her surroundings and the realities of the world.
But then she followed to explain herself. She said that painting is like writing the rules to your own game because of how incredibly frustrating, yet rewarding it is to complete such a task. For instance, the way that you would want to approach writing the rules to the perfect game is to make it so clear cut and engaging that people are impacted by it. So that they’ll want to play it over and over again. When painting, you are doing a similar thing. You are doing it all with the purpose of wanting everybody looking at it to be as obsessed with it as you are. You want people to cry, blush, laugh, get angry. Whatever it is, you do it for that emotional reaction and you want them to develop a yearning to want to look at it again and again, everytime being as if it was the first.
This idea for painting means layer after layer of fixing and adjusting areas of the canvas that don’t quite satisfy you. It’s a process of loving it, hating it, loving it a little bit again and then hating it some more. You decide to walk away from it for a while to forget about and when you return a couple of hours later, you find that your arm hairs have made it all the way up to the roof of the room. At this moment you begin to take into consideration all the people that told you nursing was the right way to go. After all, it would have made for a steady income every month and it would have given you free health insurance, something you haven't had for months.
As you continue that embark on that emotional roller coaster while looking at your painting there will come a point where there is an instant switch. It happens on that very last layer, that very last stroke of the brush. That perfect configuration of line and space, value and color. That last stride that pulls it all together. It's like pulling out a cake you just baked from the oven to find that it is the perfect shade, the perfect consistency. The perfect sweetness, the perfect ratio of walnuts and chocolate chips. That is when you know it, you are a genius. You have no idea what you did or really how you got there, but you did.