Last month, Eckleburg Gallery featured Mark Posey’s paintings. We interviewed Posey to understand more about his creative process, what role art plays in his life, and how these utterly intriguing paintings help him to communicate with the world.
What inspires you to paint?
One of the reasons why I enjoy painting so much is because I deeply value expression. It’s what differentiates us from other animals and helps give us identity. Our DNA is close to 99% identical to that of chimps. It is the small 1% that accounts for the all the triumphs of man, i.e., art, science, technology. I feel like as humans we have been blessed with this 1% advantage and need to make good use of it.
Is there a unique story behind one or more of your pieces?
On my painting ‘Nothing to Lose’, the movement of the nose was completely accidental. I had been working on that painting all night and couldn’t get the nose right. I picked up the painting to move it to a drying rack and I accidentally tilted the painting, causing the wet paint to shift to the right. It looked great, so I kept it!
What is your favorite type of art and why?
As time has passed by, I have grown increasingly fond of abstract art. Abstract painting cuts to the bone of art and expression. Its about mark making, color, and emotion. Though I greatly admire the talents of many realist and representational artists, I grew tired of looking at paintings that were ‘safe’. I want to see someone go wild on his or her canvas. I want to see and experience someone’s raw emotions, and be able to look at a painting and know exactly what they were thinking and feeling. I want to see people taking risks! To look at a painting done by someone who colors inside the lines is just boring for me. Who wants to watch a timid person follow all the rules? Nothing is off limits in art; people should take advantage of that! I want to look at a painting done by an artist that is unpredictable and spontaneous, someone who will keep me on my toes and show me things I have never dreamed of seeing before.
Why do you enjoy looking at art? What do you think makes great art?
One of the reasons why I enjoy looking at art so much is because I feel that it can be an incredibly revealing thing. Everyone leads different lives and has been exposed to different things. Art is able to show those differences in a way that nothing else can. Great art is about the unique spirit of the artist, something that cannot be genuinely duplicated by any other person.
In what ways do you consider art to be its own type of language?
I think that everything, not just art, has the ability to communicate its beauty to you if you give it a chance. One of the reasons why art exists is to remind us of the beauty and creativity that lies within our everyday actions, mistakes included.
In what ways do you feel that art can speak for things that verbal language cannot express?
Many feelings are hard to put into words. Painting speaks for feelings that are often left unsaid. As Kandinsky said, ‘compositions can never be entirely rational, but a balance between reason and intuition.’
What keeps you painting and creating art?
Painting keeps me wondering and imagining. It’s the only way I know how to occupy my time, and is one of the only things I feel I really understand. I find it comforting. The only thing you can do wrong in painting is nothing at all.
Do you feel that painting is something that can be taught, or is it more of following an intuition? Or both?
One thing that really grinds my gears is when people say, ‘I always wanted to be an artist, but I can’t paint at all!’ What I have to say to that is if you really love art, you’ll need to push yourself to get through the first 50 or 100 or even 200 bad paintings before you produce anything worthwhile. Do you think Michelangelo was able to paint the Sistine chapel the first time he picked up a brush? Of course not.
As I write this I am surrounded by paintings of mine that are complete failures. I had high hopes for each one — confident it was going to be my next masterpiece, only to be let down and needing to start from scratch. Being an artist is a commitment that requires a tremendous amount of heartbreak and failure. If you really love it, you will get through it.
As for art being learned or intuitive, I will say that some people are certainly naturally more creative than others, in the same way that some people are naturally better at math. But remember, your brain acts like a muscle, and creativity can be strengthened with training.
Mark Posey’s work has been exhibited in New York, Milan, Tokyo and San Francisco, among other places. Read more at www.markposeyart.com.
“My current art thrives on intuition and spontaneity. I use thick layers of fluid paint to capture my energy, and embrace the unexpected movements of the paint. It is the randomness and an embrace of the unforeseen that makes my art true to my nature and to life itself.”