Cycle, 10 x 10″ acrylic on illustration board
“One never paints violently enough.”
– Eugene Delacroix
Painting and violence are not words commonly juxtaposed. We often think of painting as a refined activity, one in which we connect with our gentle spirit. Painting calms us, allows us to achieve an almost meditative state. So what place has violence in this serene tableau?
I think Delacroix (who was a French Romantic painter) is commenting on passion and abandon in painting. Violence is defined as “swift and intense force”. When we unfetter our passion as we paint, the force is palpable. When it is “swift and intense” we often sit back and look at the result and wonder “where did that come from?”. And often these pieces are our most satisfying, having bypassed our common ways of thought, our conventions and comfortable patterns. Leaving all that behind leads to an exciting place.
It is challenging to paint “violently” – letting go is not something we do often in our daily lives. What is great about art is that it is a safe place to do so. If the word “violent” offends, substitute “passionate”, but be sure that your passion is swift and intense!