Jay Noble


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"...Undergoing Perpetual Revision..."

These remarks are motivated by Shih Tao's "Enlightening Remarks on Painting" and George Braque's "Illustrated Notebooks: 1917-1955."

Please keep in mind that these remarks are my conscience speaking.  If, as you read, it seems that you hear your own conscience speaking then perhaps our consciences hang out in the off hours and are given to the same truths... if not it may hurt a little- so sit back, breath deep, and marvel at the truths I have been, in Picasso's words, "given to understand."

In no particular order:


#1   Remember that you love art for reasons that have nothing to do with commerce and the age of advertising.  The impact of branding on the artist is something better left in the last half of the 20th century.  For the sake of a better 21st century,  be an artist that does not feel obligated to develop themselves into a brand.  Therefor be on guard against any academic or commercial pressure to develop a trademark style.  If your work happens to go in a direction that requires a singular focus and as a natural consequence it develops a certain "look" (or hook), do not allow this to become an obligatory factor... use it as long as it is getting you somewhere but set it aside the moment your work leads you in a new direction. In the end do not let commercial pressures (your brand image) be the sole reason for its presence in your work.

#2 Keep Looking...

#3 Your soul, your deepest sense of interiority, is wholistic (this spelling variant is intended to emphasise the notion of the whole rather than the hole), so be versatile and all encompassing.


#4 Do not be "gallery ready." Demand that the gallery be "artist ready."  After all, Art is the culture that must be accommodated for, not the gallery.  Or you might just keep in mind that there are plenty of galleries out there... there is no need to impose your work on a "gallery not ready" for it.  Find a "gallery ready!"  


#5 Do not be an "emerging artist..." be a maturing artist.


#6 Paint what you want, when you want, how you want.


#7 Never let your resume get more interesting than your art.


#8 Do not use the timeline of art history as a means to push art away from yourself, as a way of distancing yourself from it by burying it deep into an illusion of the past (this is not a slight against the discipline of art history, rather it is against the way artists use or respond to art history). Good art history ushers art into the present... it follows the west African principle of Sankofa, "Go back and fetch it and bring it forward."  If you actually look at  the art of the past you will see that it is as alive today as it was when it was made... and in some cases more alive than art being made today.  Perhaps this is a little obvious... an often forgotten bit of common knowledge shows that the central cultural impact of an art object is connected to its ability to "sustain" its presence, or presentness, indefinitely... it does not stay in the past, it stays with us!


#9 Do not go "beyond" anything, except your own ignorance, in your work.  The problems of painting are perennial and constant.  They are the same today as they have been since the cave painters, and probably those who came before them.  If painting today seems any different than yesterday, it is that humans keep approaching it from different directions - or we are merely ignorant of the common ground we have with those that painted before us.


#10 The phrase "think outside the box" is a tired academic cliche...  Before thinking outside the box, perhaps one should ask whether the potentials of the box itself have been explored.  In fact, sometimes there is more freedom "inside the box," and it is one's own ignorance that needs to be thought outside of... Usually those who think they are "thinking outside the box"  have merely traded one box for another, or they have moved into a different corner of the same box...  Their delusion of freedom is had by their dismissal of something they simply don't see.   It takes great humility to realize that you are your own box... you are your own status quo... unless you're not; and the problem really is outside yourself, in which case break right out of that box ASAP!  After all, this delusion might actually prove helpful to you.


#11  Embrace contradictions in art... their tensions are the hallmark of everything you love about form.


#12 Don't be surprised at the impossibility of all these remarks, and your repeated failure at achieving any one of them... 


#13  Break any and all of these rules as needed (maybe even this one)... the righteous path may not be meant for you.


"These pithy gnomic quips lack the strength of a scholarly argument - but they are enough to get the wheels turning"
-Jay Noble

Jay Noble

Paintings and Drawings