Truth vs Facts in Painting

“Paint the truth beneath the facts. ” This sage piece of painterly advice was excitedly brought to the attention of a small group of artists sharing studio space by our inspiring mentor and ringleader. Yes” came the enthusiastic response from all of us followed by blank stares at first. After a little discussion, the concept was clarified in other words: “paint the feeling instead of just replicating the scenery.”

Okay, but how to do that when painting an abstract idea to begin with? Can a feeling be abstracted or paired down anymore to its essence?  Do we need to call in Carl Jung? What the heck is this all about anyway–I just want to paint please.

There are certain tools or elements to work with including line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space which can be manipulated along with design principles of balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast and movement. Throw in some rhythm and harmony and you’ve got it right? Wishful thinking.

Nuance and finesse can be the deciding factors. Anyone can manipulate line or shape and color, but it is the eye and hand of the artist who shows us what is hidden or unbidden inside each of us, whether that is through the cords of a bluesy song, sensual movement of dance, poetic license or strokes of paint on paper. It is the work of the artist who fights, really hard, to interpret that feeling onto a surface. Sometimes defined as a process or a journey–it is the task of the artist to touch and interpret feeling in order to truly “paint the truth beneath the facts” and turn personal vision into a sweeping sensation for all to share in the movement.





2 thoughts on “Truth vs Facts in Painting

  1. I always look for the truth beneath the facts – sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. “it is the eye and hand of the artist who shows us what is hidden or unbidden inside each of us” – yes!

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