Michael Divine



Politic Awareness

In order for me to write poetry that isn’t political
I must listen to the birds
& in order to hear the birds
the airplane must be silent

Marwan Makhoul (trans. Zeina Hashem Beck)
Gaza Poets Society

I am fortunate to live in a time and place that, for me and my station in life, is in relative peace but it is not without being aware of the state of the world - from the localized environs to the bigger sways of peoples and governments.

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Emily Dickinson

even if i can’t change the world
i’m still going to write
and even if no one ever cares
even if it makes absolutely no difference
that there was a person
named emily dickinson
who sat in this little room
day after day
and wrote things down
just because she felt them

- Dickinson Season 3 Episode 10
Available on Apple TV+

That part, at the end of the 3 season series of Apple TV's show Dickinson, struck me because that is, to the artist, the primary thing and it summed it up so beautifully and succinctly. We are just there, day after day, writing or painting or making music - doing our arts - because we feel them. I look around at my studio, lovely space that it is, where I return to every day. My easel and the door to the garden, the computer and phone offering windows to the world at large. So I return every day and paint and, really, that's the whole goal - to make the art of what it feels like, for me, right now in this now.

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A Day for Love

Some say that Valentine's Day is just a made-up a holiday but the truth is: they're all made up holidays. Christmas, New Year's, Halloween... And don't get me started on all of the other made up stuff - dollar bills, national borders, and so on.

So if we are going to have a made-up day - and especially one for the Northern Hemisphere in the dreary days of February - that short month that always stays too long - then a day that reminds us to love isn't so bad.

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Some Thoughts on My Art in Relation to AI

People who have said to me, "Michael, you REALLY need to check out AI. You could use it for painting ideas!"

Here's the thing: if you've known me and my art for a while (or even not for a while) then you've gotten the sense that the paintings from from my impressions of the world. I'm constantly taking it in, assimilating it, using it as part of my own personal journey and process, etc. And by 'the world' I mean all of it - from the big picture politics to the fine facets of my own interpersonal relationships, from those awesome James Webb Telescope pictures to the flowers outside in the garden and the birds that flit from branch to branch.

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“Persuing the Ineffable” – The New Book of Michael Divine’s Art

Persuing the Ineffable is the new book of Michael Divine’s breath-taking artwork made in the 10 years following his first book, This Sublime Dance. This full color, cloth-bound, foil-stamped, hardcover book is beautifully crafted with full color, heavy weight, glossy pages, and a gold embossed dust jacket.

Order Your Copy HERE

The book is a limited of 750 and each copy is signed and numbered on a bound page. The 226 page book features over 200 paintings and drawings with multiple fold out pages and giant full page details as well as contributing essays from Bill Moses and Violet Divine.

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Know Your Brushstrokes

The thing is - you need to know your brushstrokes. Not the ‘meh I don’t know what I’m doing’ brushstrokes - not ‘these are just the unimportant brushstrokes til I put the important ones on top’ but EVERY brushstroke. The very first to the very last are all part of the same rhythm.

There is no underpainting. The underpainting IS the painting. The overpainting is the painting. It is all the painting. It is just the painting.

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Our Histories

Our histories are what make us. They define us. Just as the rivers carve our canyons and winds shape mountains, the oceans we inhabit are fed by countless tributaries stretching backwards through time. If we were to find poison in the Gulf of Mexico (and certainly that’s not too hard) we would search back through the streams that led there and find from where it came. If we find that there is poison in the ocean of our now we have to ask where it came from. So we look back through the threads of time and find the cause - the disease, hate, or shame. Familial patterns or social prejudices. Ignoring our histories, glossing them over, trying to forget - it doesn’t help anything. Erasing the parts we don’t like doesn’t change them. 

Highlighting the parts that support the person with the highlighter as the victor, maketh not a victor. 

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I've sort of given up on the idea of 'the underpainting.'

It does a disservice to the painting process when the beginning of the painting is simply referred to as an underpainting as if the real serious painting will start later.

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On New Directions in My Work

If you've been following my creative trajectory for a while, you may have noticed a shift in my approach and output. The subject of the paintings has become more fluid. Ideas seem to be less specific with greater sweeps of color, more spontaneity of brushstroke. Most of all (and what I hope and aim for): more visceral and emotive of sensations and less illustrative of a particular idea.

Like any relationship, my relationship to painting has continued to change and grow over the years. What I want out of it - how I want to express myself. WHAT I want to express. I look at my 20s and wonder: what of that was the wildness, the hormones of youth, and loading myself up on [primarily] yoga, buddhism, and the outdoors. Later, into my 30s I found myself wanting to slow down and focus more on the individual elements of the paintings. For each piece, I made detailed preparatory drawings and then a moved forward into the painting with a very slow methodical approach. Some of the best pieces to result from that are ones such as The Glass Onion, The Myth of Freedom, and First World Problem Child. Still, later, we moved to where we are now and, to me, the pinnacle of that approach has been the paintings The Apotheosis of Hope and Only Love Can and The Bricklayer's Dream.

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This painting expresses the dance of rhythm and chaos that often is the world. It is the crackling light, the fire, that permeates everything and yet still is just calm waves washing over us, pulling us back, pushing us forwards with some sense of self that we hold on to within that. With perhaps the barest touch can dissolve it into everything where our borders are permeable and our identity an illusion and that there is only this Now, this moment - and then the next and the next arriving on the shores of each breath, each inhalation and exhalation and we hold this fragile self itself cobbled together from conditioning and fantasies, fears and imagination, doing the best that we can with what we have to work with and we face it all bravely and boldly, with compassion for the immaculate dance that is life.

See details of this painting in the Samadhi Gallery >>

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