Archive for January 7th, 2022

The Created Moment


Mark Rothko- Number 14

A painting is not a picture of an experience, but is the experience.

—Mark Rothko

This a reworking of a post from a few years back. I chose it because it’s something I have been thinking about lately, this idea of not “capturing a moment” but instead “creating a moment.

I believe that the words above from Mark Rothko express that idea perfectly.

You hear a lot of artists talk about “capturing a moment” with their work. I am pretty sure those words have come out of my mouth when I am just blathering on. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Capturing a moment that the artist has experienced which moved them is not a bad thing. There are many examples of such work that is beautiful and lasting.

But my belief is that a piece of art works best when it causes the viewer (for visual artists) to feel as though they are experiencing something new in that moment when they stand in front of it.

Not a representation of a moment but a moment in itself.

Not capturing but creating the moment.

And that moment takes place when the viewer engages with the work of art, as though an arc of energy jumps from the art to the eyes and mind of the viewer, uniting the two in a unique moment.

Work like that is always in the present.

And maybe even that description doesn’t fully express the created moment. Maybe this singular moment is of its own time and place. Perhaps its own present, the created moment, that only exists in the space between the work and the viewer.

But how does the artist achieve that? Is it even something you can create with forethought?

Like so many things, I can’t really say for sure.

Maybe it comes in being totally honest and emotionally engaged during the creation of the work. Perhaps that moment of emotion becomes part of the piece and it is that which the viewer senses and experiences in the work.

Maybe that is the arc that emanates from the work.

Again, I don’t know the what’s or how’s or why’s of actually creating a moment.

Or if I have it in myself to achieve it or if I would even recognize it if I did.

But I do know that it is always lingering at the fringes of my mind when I stand in front of the easel. That might be the biggest part of the impulse to paint for me, to create a moment that exists beyond myself.

Time will once again be the revelator…

Mark Rothko-Red and Black-1968

Mark Rothko- Red and Black, 1968

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