CHECKLISTS

 

Robert Genn
June 2007

 

Every few days someone asks me to send a personalized checklist
of things they need to do and think about while they're
painting. As everyone's creative concept is really quite
different, this is a tough order. Even though I may have looked
at the work, their continued flourishing depends on a unique
vision and a sense of individual entitlement. We are all
specialists of some sort, and specialization demands we make
our own checklists. In our game there's no silver bullet, no
one size fits all.

Here's a word for your own checklist--and how to make one.
Checklists are not recipes. They're self-generated lists of
thoughts and ideas that just might add strength, value and
importance to the work. Based on what one knows about the
better works of others, the vastness of human potential, and
one's own personal ideals, it's an elevated to-do list.

Contemplation is the key. The artist arrests herself at any
stage in a work's progress. Short notes clarify processes and
indicate directions with further potential. It's a temporary
side-step from the "zone." For those with this kind of
intuition, it's a self-taught facility to be both in the flow
and observing the flow. Practitioners can have the eerie
feeling of watching themselves work.

Before anyone phones those guys in the white coats, here are
some examples from my current list:

Paint with your eyes
Think what things might become
Let the brush talk
Be in love with change
Find the elegance
See the big picture
Make it a pattern
Identify the extraordinary
Don't get gauche
Keep it fresh at all costs
Take your time

This stuff is all about a personal search for truth within
one's own vision. Getting there is half the fun. If it were a
recipe, everyone's truth might be the same. Only you can make
your checklist and join the search for your own truth. Start
your checklist now.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Between truth and the search for truth, I choose the
second." (Bernard Berenson)

Esoterica: When I was much more immature I used to hand out
checklists with abandon. Several years ago a friend made me
aware of a long-lost checklist that I'd dropped off before the
Internet Age. "I've used it every day," she told me. It reads:
"Compositional integrity, sound craftsmanship, colour
sensitivity, creative interest, design control, gestural
momentum, artistic flair, expressive intensity, professional
touch, surface quality, intellectual depth, visual distinction,
technical challenge and artistic audacity."