Archive for June 25th, 2015

The_Torment_of_Saint_Anthony_(Michelangelo)A man paints with his brains and not his hands.

-Michaelangelo Buonarroti


I am a little intimidated in quoting the words of a man who is believed to have painted the piece shown above, The Torment of Saint Anthony, at the tender age of 12 or 13.  Pretty amazing.  It’s obvious from this and almost everything of his that came after that Michaelangelo had both brains and hands–craftsmanship of the highest degree and thought and feeling that brought his work to life.

But his words ring true for any painter.  Painting should not be mere craft, not formulaic process nor exact replication of the reality before them.  No, it is beyond  that.  It is how the artist imbues the work with their own thought and emotion, their own spirit, their own essence– an investment of the self— that elevates the work above craft.

Doing that is the trick.  At first glance, it seems both a tall task and a simple one.  But it comes down to simply feeling emotion in what you are doing and being willing to openly display it without reserve.

Now, maybe I am misinterpreting Michaelangelo’s words to fit my own subjective view of painting.  Perhaps in these ten words he was speaking about taking a more scientific or mathematical approach to painting and composition. That I don’t know.  But when I read it, it made sense to me because the differentiating quality I see in painting, from self-taught outsiders to the highest level of traditional representational painters, is how much of themselves a painter is willing to invest in their creations.

It is the thought process of the artist that makes the painting, not the mechanical process.

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