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Three Spoons, painter at play

Three Spoons, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40inches

What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing. -Picasso

The most insidious trap/block/buzz-kill for painting is a gooey trap firmly attached to the shoulders via my neck. I get stuck in my head. Thinking is all good, where I get in trouble (as do many artists and others) is trying to figure or solve a piece before doing it. A previous life as a basketball player reminds me that thinking about a free throw is a sure fire way to miss a free throw. You get the yips.

Three Spoons is a piece that happened very much in the flow of work. I didn’t really think about it and I didn’t have to talk myself into it. One morning I eased into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and the light cutting across the counter caught my attention. I snapped a photo, printed off a copy, then went to the studio.

Here’s some advice if you want to be more productive as a painter: When you enter your studio/workspace, immediately open/squeeze out some paint. The material will insist that you get to work.

Then repeat play, following the wisdom of the ancients:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.


Changing studios was disruptive, getting the space set up was not enough. It’s not enough to build a gym, you gotta spend time in it practicing, practicing, practicing. Through practice (habit) you accumulate and develop instinct. Excellence MIGHT ensue. Eventually you may arrive at the great intersection of athletics and art, you get to PLAY.

I think this is work flow, the zone, whatever you want to call it.

I relied on practiced instincts with Three Spoons, letting my eyes do the catching.

Light, composition, timing, cutting-loose and aiming for a lyrical space and narrative. By the way, this analysis comes after the act, after the painting.

Three Spoons was less thought and more do.

Looking back I think there is much to say and think about this piece. What is going on with still life? It's another domestic scene, another coffee cup, there is pattern in things and disconnected floating in space, why just a sliver of a window?

And appreciations to Wilson Arts in North Carolina, a great organization near the town where I learned to read as a kid. Three Spoons was lucky enough to be a part of their 2022 National multi-media juried show, y’all check them out.

Three Spoons being crated and about to ship to Wilson, North Carolina, last year.

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