Mistakes are the portals of discovery. — James Joyce In a painting class this week, I confessed to "wiping" a lousy still life, an admission that triggered a 15-minute discussion of the upside of mistakes. "Wiping a painting is a badge of honor," the teacher said. "It's also...

A perceptual approach to painting is not synonymous with rote observation. — Matthew Ballou "Perceptual painters," artist Matthew Ballou says, dwell on two surfaces at once: the surface of the object and the surface of the canvas. The artist daubs paint on one surface (the canvas) in order...

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past. — William Faulkner I love to paint stoneware crocks. Their chunky, chilly corporality reminds me of granite markers and monuments, the steadfast avatars of past lives. And their rootedness in the earth—crocks being made of dirt, a literal rootedness—lend them...

“In art it is hard to say anything as good as saying nothing.” ― Ludwig Wittgenstein People who speak harshly of painters, but don't themselves paint, irk me. Even when they speak harshly of mediocre painters. Compared to these critics, painters—even masterful ones—are always more congenial. That's true in all...

Painting a "picture" is meaningless. One paints beauty. — David Leffel In perhaps my favorite semester of college, I took a philosophy course on beauty. Philosophers call the study of beauty "aesthetics" and for 2,500 years have  argued over aesthetics questions like "does a painting actually exist?" and...

Whatever the objects of his attention, the painter will not make them say what they are without thereby learning what he is. — Jean-Paul Sartre Just when I think I've about had it with party strife, microbes, blizzards, intolerance and inequality, painting comes along to pick me up. Still-life...

Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him. — Lord Chesterfield Originally, "slow food" founder Carlo Petrini didn't mean to start a global movement 3o years ago. He merely wanted Europeans to preserve local cuisines. But Petrini's "Slow Food...

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine. — Shakespeare According to medieval folklore, women should rise early on February 14th—the day the birds mate—because a gentleman always weds the first lady he runs into. Valentine's Day was...

The world is divided into two classes—invalids and nurses. — James Abbott McNeill Whistler My troublesome, months-long recovery from a broken ankle would be much more vexing were it not for my wife's ministrations. If I'm able to paint and write while being laid up, it's all her...

Creativity takes what it needs from the person who possesses it and discards the rest. — Peter Schjeldahl New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl once observed that, for viewers, subject and medium always transcend a painter's thoughts and feelings. I think that's why, after just a few weeks,...