Michael Divine

In the Beginning (of a Painting)

I spend an enormous amount of time thinking about paintings I want to paint. And not just thinking about them but seeing them, feeling them, considering them. Sometimes they are in my vision when I’m making dinner and I’m chopping a carrot or a stalk of broccoli and I’m seeing this painting. It sort of lingers in the vision – in my mind, in this place between hallucination and imagination…

Small paintings: I make small things like 11×14 and such and they are relatively quick… They are a small facet, an aspect of myself – they are very precise and don’t require as much forethought. They come from drawings and ideas of course, but they don’t have as much going on with them of course. Likewise, they allow depth and scope and that, too, require some consideration – some allowance of what it might be but not like a larger painting. Why? I think in part it’s because if I’m going to invest the time it takes to paint something that’s larger than a couple of feet tall, then there is serious intention… there’s serious consideration about how I am going to spend my time – IS THIS WORTH IT? Do I want to go there?

And once that question is answered….


So I feel it. I envision it. I see it. I love it. All the corners. All the angles. I wrap myself around it – into the dark shadows of it and into the great release. I consider it carefully. I think about the little things… I taste the slight glint of this, the soft arch of that. I want it to be awesome. I want it to speak to my corners, my nuances, my heights and depths. And, in turn, I want it to speak to you and yours.

It’s like… I don’t even know what it’s like. It’s like painting. This is how it is. How it has always been. How I am. I live it, breath it, sleep with it, and awaken again with it. I want it to be something that I will love. I want you to fall in love wit it. I want to not waste my time on it. I want to KNOW it.

And when I really love it – when I’ve made a dozen sketches and another dozen drawings and I’m ready and I’ve considered the parts I don’t know and have given over to the ways that it needs to be even if it’s going to be a lot of work… Then I’m ready to stretch a canvas, then I’m ready to prepare my surface.

And then, maybe then, I’m ready for that first brushstroke.

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