Me Meme, 2013, Nic*Rad

Some good advice for painters:

Painting is generally a selfish, material pursuit that leaves most of its practitioners world weary, isolated, unhinged, impoverished.  Real painting does that. Not the kind where you are trying to flatter someone who likes to be looked at in longform. Painting to express yourself is madness. You might start to think of this feeling as a good place to draw inspiration from. You might spend your whole life in this problematic recursion. To break free you’ll have to find a subject without a voice or become that subject and view your own life as a symbol you’re consciously exploiting. If you think too long about that self exploitation you’ll slip back into your misery-as-fuel circle of doom. 

Anyway, that’s too highminded to be helpful. It also seems bleak, although a lot of artists I know thrive on negative pleasure- on converting their frustration into kinetic energy. The difference between the eternally depressed and the cheerful or hopeful seems predisposed, maybe genetic, or formed at an unfairly early age in life. I didn’t come here to tell you that you’re doomed. Here is some more practical advice: 

Make a lot of dumb paintings and awful paintings that you know are dumb and awful and learn the unique ways that you do dumb and awful. Conquer your failures by forming bruises, calluses, lumps, pathologies… Paint your scars. Be a humble fool. Admire Wile E Coyote.  

Ignore received wisdom. Learn by fucking up. How lucky you are to have any time at all in this sacred space, with these sacred tools. How lucky you are to have any flesh on those sacred bones. Painting is an insane thing to do with your time- were you hoping for transcendence, or maybe just transference? You are going to do it though. You are going to exercise willful ignorance to make a counterpoint: I don’t think, therefore I’m not. It’s as least as dumb as anything else you might do here on this little spinning rock, hurtling. Well aren’t we all miserable, uniquely. In this moment, on this canvas, stay humble you fool- know that for the time you’ve given to this simple act of defiance, the universe is jealous of you.