I Wish I’d Said It

“You can either buy clothes or buy pictures,” she said. “It’s that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both. Pay no attention to your clothes and no attention at all to the mode, and buy your clothes for comfort and durability, and you will have the clothes money to buy pictures.”

“But even if I never bought any more clothing ever,” I said, “I wouldn’t have enough money to buy the Picassos that I want.”

“No. He’s out of your range. You have to buy the people of your own age-of your own military service group. You’ll know them. You’ll meet them around the quarter. There are always good new serious painters. But it’s not you buying clothes so much. It’s your wife always. It’s women’s clothes that are expensive.”

I saw my wife trying not to look at the strange, steerage clothes that Miss Stein wore and she was successful. When they left we were still popular, I thought, and we were asked to come again to 27 rue de Fleurus.”

Ernest Hemingway writing about Gertrude Stein, A Moveable Feast

Making a Painting with Gertrude and Earnest in the Rabbit Hole

 
 

comission (2010) artist: JParadisi

It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really nothing.

 

Gertrude Stein

   

  I don’t know much about genius, but I do know about making a painting, and it does take time sitting around doing nothing sometimes. I hate those times. I try to welcome them. I am a doer. I like waking up every morning with a list of things I want to do. Nursing is a good fit for me in that sense: there is always something to do when I’m at my nursing job. The studio is not like that. I go to the studio thinking I have several hours to make a painting. I set up my tabouret (a fancy French word for a little table or stool) with paints and medium and brushes and rags. When I can I leave a painting at a moment when I know what my next brush stroke will be. Then, when I return to the studio I have a starting point to re-enter the painting. It’s a little trick I play on myself.  Hemingway used this device, stopping at a point in a story where he knew what he would write next.  Knowing where to start does not guarantee a painting will progress, however. How many times have I spent hours applying paint to a canvas and stepped back to look at my work, disappointed? Sometimes, knowing what to do next leads to an artificial and contrived feel to the painting that I cannot stand. So out comes the palette knife and rag and I scrape and rub away all that paint and hard work, leaving me clueless how to get back into the painting.  At that point, I am Alice down the rabbit hole, forced to sit back and do nothing, really nothing. It’s painful and frustrating. The nurse in me wants to complete her tasks and check them off her list. The artist in me knows that’s not how a work of art gets made, and she laughs at the nurse’s compulsion.

 

I Wish I’d Said It

 
 
 
 

Persephone (2009) oil on unstretched canvas by JParadisi

One of the pleasant things those of us who write or paint do is to have the daily miracle.  It does come.

                                                                          Gertrude Stein

 

                                                                                                

 

I Wish I’d Said It

No artist needs criticism, he only needs appreciation. If he needs criticism he is no artist.

Gertrude Stein