When I came across rules written by Richard Diebenkorn, one of my favorite artists, I identified with them immediately. I also found it quite moving that these were rules for himself and were only discovered in his studio after his death.
Diebenkorn rules—Note to myself on beginning a painting:
- Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
- The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued—except as a stimulus for further moves.
- Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
- Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
- Don’t “discover” a subject—of any kind.
- Somehow don’t be bored—but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
- Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
- Keep thinking about Pollyanna.
- Tolerate chaos.
- Be careful, but only in a perverse way.
I especially like rules number 1 and 10.
Micaceous Iron Oxide
I first attempted what was not certain by covering a piece of hard board with micaceous iron oxide which I had not used before. It is a very dark medium and it is very gritty, like sandpaper.
I am rarely very careful, so that was not a problem. I just layered on the medium to see what would happen.
I decided to paint a tree because I don’t have to discover how to paint a tree. I have painted many (rule #5).
The acrylic paint went on the micaceous iron oxide in mysterious ways, needing more than one layer of one color and fewer of another. As you can see (Shadows), the under layer was quite absorbent. I like the darkness of the finished painting and I will do another soon.
I love the results and I loved trying to be Pollyanna, which I rarely am.
Here is the final result.
Do you identify with any of Diebenkorn’s rules?