On Painting

Last month I read the latest book by Jim Harrison, described by some as a modern-day Hemingway. The protagonist in the first novella in the book is an art appraiser who rediscovers painting after a 30-year hiatus. Here’s what Clive has to say about painting:

The grand thing about painting was that your mind slowed to the pace of the work at hand or you simply couldn’t paint well.

More importantly, he didn’t want to be a painter, he only wanted to paint, two utterly distinct impulses. He had known many writers and painters who disliked writing and painting but apparently just wanted to be writers and painters.

A painting wasn’t a snapshot. A photo can be okay but that’s not how we see it. When we look at things we don’t put the entirety of the surroundings of what we’re looking at in focus. . . . When Jerry lifts his huge head from the water trough you see the water dripping from his muzzle in the glint of the sun for a moment and that’s all you see. . . . Great photographers were more likely to imitate painters than vice versa.

—Jim Harrison, 2013, The Land of Unlikeness


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