Following the breadcrumbs

I had to go look up Ad Reinhardt and what he was all about. Found this recounting of “The Twelve Technical Rules (or How to Achieve the Twelve Things to Avoid)…”

12. No object, no subject, no matter. No symbols, images or signs. Neither pleasure nor pain. No mindless working or mindless non-working. No chessplaying.

Supplementary regulations are: No easel or palette. Low, flat, sturdy benches work well. Brushes should be new, clean, flat, even, 1 inch wide and strong. “If the heart is upright, the brush is firm.” No noise. “The brush should pass over the surface lightly and smoothly” and quietly. No rubbing or scraping. Paint should be permanent, free of impurities, mixed and stored in jars. The scent should be of “pure spirits of turpentine, unadulterated and freshly distilled.” “The glue should be as clean as possible.” Canvas is better than silk or paper, linen better than cotton. There should be no shine in the finish. Gloss reflects and relates to the changing surroundings. “A picture is finished when all traces of the means used to bring about the end have disappeared.”

The fine art studio should have a “rain-tight roof” and be 25 feet wide and 30 feet long, with extra space for storage and sink. Paintings should be stored away and not continually looked at. The ceiling should be 12 feet high. The studio should be separate from the home and living, “away from the claims of concubinage and matrimony.” A fine art department should be separate from the rest of the school.

Doesn’t that space seem appealing, filled with your materials and ideas? While I can’t hold to all the other “rules” since there are many great pieces of work that are well outside them, I can respect them and that last part.

Robert Genn would tell you

The easel is an altar to productivity. Traditional altars have been places of worship and sacrifice, and the studio easel is no exception. He who would do well at one must respect and honour the gods of quality, truth, composition, imagination, pattern, perspective, story, drawing, colour, fantasy and flair. To stand or sit at one, even in play, you need to prepare yourself for labour.

The easel is also a place of sacrifice. Substandard passages or whole works are summarily struck down at this often troubling altar–but rebirth is its usual fruit. Both honour and responsibility go with your easel, your altar.

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