Let the Mystery Be

“Tezoom”, from a new series that seems to have a mind of its own

In an interview with the artist Claerwen James, she was asked about what useful advice she received while she was a student:

One was from Bernard Cohen who was director of the Slade at the time. During a lecture he said, “Don’t have an abstract idea or an agenda that you’re trying to communicate through a painting: make it because you want to make it, because you want to know what it will look like, and this is the only way to find out”…You need to paint to some extent with your guts rather than your head.

(More about James here.)

James’ words came back to me this morning when I saw the post below by Linn Myers on Facebook. (Her recent show at Sandra Gering Gallery in Manhattan was so fresh and inspiring.) I resonate deeply with her embrace of the mystery and the surprise that is part of the making:

Just finished this one – 41.5 x 34″. I like the puddle/lake/pool/whatever thing, where it opens up in the lower right quadrant.
I don’t think I’ll ever really understand my own work…


To continue in this theme of being willing to not know, these final lines from a favorite song by Iris Dement are right in line:

But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be.

11 Replies to “Let the Mystery Be”

  1. we all dance around in a ring and suppose
    while the secret sits in the middle and knows.

    e.e. cummings

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Oh e.e., you nailed it. Thanks Sal.

  2. Thanks for mentioning marvelous Iris Dement.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      I have loved her from the first moment I heard her music so long ago. Yes!

  3. Ron Brunelle says:

    “Tezoom” is wonderful!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Ron, Thank you so much for that.

  4. dipittsburgh says:

    Deb, love this “beginner’s mind” having no preconceived ideas, getting out of our own way. Tezoom is all clarity for me, the mystery revealed to be unknowable. This painting is stellar in color and light.

  5. Deborah, Tezoom is wonderful!!! A view of heaven! And thank you for the intro to Linn Myers fantastic work. I chuckled when I saw the Iris Dement song — one day I was talking to Brad about life, death, the soul, etc. and he replied that Iris’ song explains exactly how he feels about it — coming from an astrophysicist I would say that is wonderfully precise!!! 🙂

  6. I love the Myers piece and am wowed by “Tezoom.” It strikes me that there is something emergent about the painting. A quiet urgency? Not sure, but I like it a lot.

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