Looking at Surface


I’ve been asking people what it is that attracts us to old things – weathered buildings, old trees, Jessica Tandy – we seem to be attracted to the passage of time made visible.


This matters because we live in time, we are passing, and so we are aware of  lifespans.  The visual arts have the rare quality of being able to mimic the look of aged surfaces, and we fool around with this gift when we are making the surface of a painting. This mimics the way nature looks, but not the way nature works, and certainly not the way we are.

We filter reality all the time, getting ahold of the pieces we like and making up our own world as we go along. Life is a limited, but truly creative act.

This is an especially creative act when it leaves a record – a painting or a song. So it makes some sense to allow an interesting surface to survive as our working process unfolds, rather than putting it on as a top coat. This is how time actually passes for us, and this seems to me to be a true way to record our experience.

So this is not about finished things that look old – it’s about open worked surfaces that show the patterns of our choices – life.  Does this make sense?


Five stages  (drawing to paint ) of  ” White Shift ”   by  Mart Poole.

———Posted by Mart Poole


2 Responses to Looking at Surface

  1. redtreetimes says:

    Mart– I am usually drawn to work where the hand of the artist is evident, where the artist’s surfaces reflect their decisions and movements. Brushstrokes. Pencil lines. I think it’s a matter of feeling engaged with the artist’s thought process, of seeing how this final surface emerges. Is that what you meant by “open worked surfaces that show the pattern of our choices”?


  2. Lennolee says:

    You do ask abstract questions. Perhaps this leads to the sort of discovery that seems so effortless for you, which of course it is not. It’s the whole package, the image looks deceptivily casual, when in fact it does portray the way we move through one another’s life. That small moment when you look up and notice someone. The surface is handled very well, and does everything you say, but, the idea was already incredibly strong.

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