Sadness of color and geometry

It is important for me to explain that what I call the quality of “tears”, the sadness that necessarily characterizes all living art, is inherent in the geometry, it is not only an emotion, but is a character of the geometry itself.

In reality there is nothing there except paint, and the centers which the paint creates. At the same time one feels the endless connection quality in the thing and in the way it keeps on going.

While I was working, when I opened my eyes very wide to see only the whole, I could see where disunity occurred, and then realize — if I concentrated very hard — that a particular yellow had to be modified by a tiny fraction, or a red had to be modified by a tiny fraction. So I painted over that piece with that slightly different yellow, and then (sometimes, when I was lucky) what I am describing as this gray or vacuum spot which was disturbing to the whole thing went away. And then I looked at the whole thing again and said, “OK now where are there gray vacuum spots?” And then I came back and repaired the painting again yet somewhere else.

As I looked at the painting in its incomplete form, I half-closed my eyes, and tried to diagnose which particular spot was causing the greatest disunity I could sense — often I would see it like a wound, through my half-closed eyes. Then I could hone in on it, and see a particular bit of pink which failed to shine or somehow depressed the overall shining of the painting. Or I would see a bit of yellow that was too homogenous, too pink, too muted, too bright.

The minute detailed work that was going on is quite surprising work and is not easily predictable. It doesn’t follow any scheme. In my experience it was only possible to accomplish such a thing to whatever extent I could see the potential for unity occurring in me as a felt, seen, possibility.

In general, I think, to whatever extent it occurs you can try to get that far. You can’t get any further. When your ability to keep detecting the gray spots — the dis-unity — stops, that’s as far as you go.

(Pages 247-249)

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