Wyndham Lewis on art

6. To believe that it is necessary for or conducive to art, to “improve” life, for instance—make architecture, dress, ornament, in “better taste,” is absurd.

7. The Art-instinct is permanently primitive.

8. In a chaos of imperfection, discord, etc., it finds the same stimulus as in Nature.

9. The artist of the modern movement is a savage… this enormous, jangling, journalistic, fairy desert of modern life serves him as Nature did more technically primitive man.

Excerpts taken from BLAST 1, Manifesto – – – II edited by Wyndham Lewis

Simon Leys on Chinese painting

‘The theory of Chinese painting is based on a fundamental distinction between amateurs and professionals: only the art of amateurs is deemed to have true artistic value, as they alone are individual creators, whereas professionals are mere artisans who practise their craft on the same footing as carpenters, potters and other anonymous manual workers. No amount of skill and beauty can redeem the paintings of the professionals and make up for the spiritual deficiency that taints their origins. Technical virtuosity and seductiveness in a painting are considered vulgar, as they precisely suggest the slick fluency of a professional hand answering a client’s commission and betray a lack of inner compulsion on the part of the artist – for the professional works for an external reward whereas the amateur seeks self cultivation; to the professional, painting is only a trade; to the amateur, it is a spiritual discipline. Therefore, it was hardly a paradox if, for instance, a great painter of the Qing period could inscribe on one of his masterpieces the defiant calligraphic statement: ‘What I fear most is that my painting may look competent.’ A certain form of clumsiness was valued by the painters as it clearly established the non-professional character of their work and vouched for the purity of their inspiration.’ ~ Simon Leys

Dairy of a painting – David T Miller

Dairy of a painting
David T Miller

I typically work on multiple pieces at a time. As individual pieces begin to express an identity personalities emerge. While I work I often make up songs in my head about other artists I admire, my dog Sheldon T Miller and dumb stuff in general. While the paintings become real the songs rarely go beyond the space in my head, but sometimes I’ll sing into the voice recorder on my phone and pick up a guitar. If I’m really having fun I might record it. Paintings and songs sometimes happen together. As I paint I try real hard not to think about the paintings I’m making. I tend to work in bursts and I attempt to archive monthly. I don’t use titles. I have a numbering system that works for me. I scan work most of the time because I can’t photograph art to save my life and goodness knows I’ve tried.

On one Tuesday evening, trash day eve in Ambler, PA, I was feeling pretty good about getting my trash and recycle bins on the curb and headed down to my basement to paint. I have some very nice work of some of my favorite artists, but on a shelf above my head where I work is a paint can lid with a chicken painted on it with sequins by one of my favorite people, James Prez. As I worked on what is now SC10(3.17) I had song lines running through my head about how I wish I could make magical art like James Prez. I hummed and sang a twangy little thing like the piece I was working on. I was having such a good time that I picked up a guitar and sang a few spontaneous verses. My painting uses acrylic and flashe paint from Dick Blick, Artist Craftsman Supply and Jerry’s Artarama. The painting is on store-bought 8” x 10”, pre-stretched canvas from Dick Blick. The piece has texture, dots and some little horizontal lines my wife called Frankenstein stitches. That isn’t what I saw, but she tolerates my art and songs so it works for me.

James Prez.mp3

When I’m not humming my own melodies while I paint I like to listen to folks like, Townes Van Zandt, Hayes Carll, Todd Snider, Tom Russell. Terry Allen, Joe Ely, Richard Thompson, Steve Earl, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Doc Watson, Gram Parsons, Dwight Yoakam, Dale Watson and James McMurtry (to name a few favorites).

I am very inspired by the work of artist friends I’ve made over the years through social media such as facebook and Instagram. I don’t think I could make it through the day without looking and listening.

David T Miller