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Show the Madness

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

"When it comes to art, it's important not to hide the madness," according to Atticus.

Hiding the madness kills a painting. It looks stiff and lifeless.

When I try to paint exactly what I see without taking into account how it makes me feel, I stab a dagger right into the heart of my work. Every stroke I aim to perfectly capture what the object looks like makes my picture die a little. I make short, awkward strokes. I put down colors that are too light or too dark, too vibrant or too muddy. I break the rules of perspective. The result looks nothing like what I had intended and doesn't make the viewer see what I wanted to share.

I usually attribute the death of my pictures to me. I don't know how to mix the right colors or make particular strokes or pick the brush or technique to achieve a desired effect. I'm not patient enough. I've never been trained. I haven't developed the talent. I lack the skill. The list goes on, and on.

For every painting I kill, I'm not trying to hide madness as much as I'm trying to obscure from sight the fact that I don't know what I'm doing. I'm trying to copy what I see. I'm attempting to follow the "rules." I don't even know all the rules I'm trying to follow, but I know they are out there. I'm holding these so-called "rules" in higher esteem than my own point of view. That all seems a bit mad. But, I'm sure that's not the madness Atticus meant.

So what is madness in art?

Madness first makes me think of Vincent Van Gogh and his severed ear. His madness in art shows in his swirling, turbulent brushstrokes. His willingness to use two whole tubes of blue in a single painting's sky. His ability to capture space with color, not so much perspective. Van Gogh did not hide his point of view, nor how strongly he held it.

How then can I lean into my own point of view? That is, how can I show how strongly I believe in something through my work?

I looked for some inspiration. Conrad Jon Godly's towering mountains in his 2020 collection called Nevertheless fed my imagination.

My first attempt to capture my own madness in art is here in Table Mountain in Blue.

I may not ever quite show all my own madness, but I'll stop trying to hide it.

Table Mountain in Blue: My first attempt to show my madness

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