perhaps loosely sorted into material type or according to other criteria.
By aiming to imbue the paintings with that sense of quiet and stillness, I have also in a way referenced the painting process. Paint is quiet. Once it is dry paint doesn’t move – and the actual process of painting on canvas, at least for me, is a meditative retreat, with the only noise being the soft scratch of the brush against the surface. I like it to be quiet with no music or conversation. It is absorbing and contemplative.
I know this is not true for all painters, and for me it is in stark contrast to many of my commercial projects where I use a compressor-driven spray gun and am most likely to be surrounded by other trades all with their radios on different stations, and so loud as if to drown out the others.
SDk: Offering “no message” and “random” selection of subject matter reminds us of what you wrote in your article about the psychic predicting that you “will struggle all [your] life against being seen as glib rather than profound”. Do you think your work has indeed been seen as “glib”? What would you say to someone who thinks your work is glib?
RP: Yes, I think some people may see my work as “glib”, but they are entitled to their opinion. I could be defensive about it and suggest they have themselves been shallow in their interpretation of it and have missed any depth through their limited observational skills – or
just because they are obtuse.
Perhaps the best way for me to look at it is that they may not have spent adequate time looking or thinking about my work in order to be cognisant of further levels than those found at first glance. On the other hand, I need to be careful when sometimes I am asked “what is it about”, as people’s eyes glaze over with a long and detailed response. I have the short version, which may certainly be seen as glib, which is, “Nothing lasts forever…”. If they want to know more I tell them.
Glib is a strange word. It has the negative implications of being shallow or insincere, but also the positive associations of being fluent. I like the idea of my work being fluent rather than being so deep that it is impenetrable and dense.
Being fluent has come in handy when securing commissions or teaching complex subject matter. Certainly many of my commercial works for display, television and “decorative” purposes have lacked much substance in fulfilling a brief to be bright and attractive. I have no illusions: this work is not profound, and in fact it would fall well and truly in the glib category, as it is immediately obvious what it is and there is no need to look further.
It seems a little self-congratulatory to say “I am profound”. It feels a bit like I’m saying “I am very beautiful”, when I actually believe I am pretty average. I don’t think I am insincere or shallow, but also I am no Descartes.