The Baffling Muse of Form

Abstract painting is truly one of the most challenging, freeing pursuits I have ever tried. I love it because the possibilities are endless. It can be frustrating, too, however.

My most recent painting brought me to the brink. I reached a point where I was dumbfounded and began to seriously question myself and whether I even know how to make art. Then I came across a brilliant quote from Wendell Berry:


“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Form is my teacher and my adversary, it seems. When I scale up or try a canvas with a different shape, it begins a whole new conversation. I also love this quote because it leads me to differentiate between two different kinds of creative block. It’s possible to be inspired but it is in the execution where you may encounter myriad obstacles. The question is how you resolve it?

My newest painting went through so many different stages. Here are just two, the second being the final one:

I’m glad I kept fighting with it and arrived at a place wholly new to me. You can see this painting and more in my upcoming show, Heather Kerley: Paintings and Collages at Unterhammer am Karlstal. https://pithandrootstudio.com/2019/02/21/getting-ready-for-my-march-solo-show/

2 thoughts on “The Baffling Muse of Form

  1. I love your painting. Persisting past the first effort paid off. I always try to remind myself that I usually come to hate the painting at some point, and always surprise myself when with persistent effort and “play” it finally comes together in the end and I’m pleased. And then there are some that never come together at all. Maybe I gave up too soon.

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