The Painter

We had an awesome evening at The King’s English a couple of days ago. Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars and The Painter came to read and sign books. He was genuinely lovely, and hearing him read was like hearing a poet. He had great things to say about writing, and painting, and making art. A couple of excerpts that stuck with me from The Painter:

The Painter

“What I mean is: you get this pressure, this internal pressure that builds like a swelling lake and you paint. It’s all you want to do, all you know how to do. And if you focus in the right way, a way you had to learn, you let yourself go. You lose yourself and just about vanish and the painting asserts and fills and flows over the dam and down into the streambed of everything you have ever experienced and thought, and carries you both on a current that takes you into a country that neither of you have ever seen. Where you have never been.”

“The reason people are so moved by art and why artists tend to take it all so seriously is that if they are real and true they come to the painting with everything they know and feel and love, and all the things they don’t know, and some of the things they hope, and they are honest about them all and put them on the canvas. What can be more serious? What more really can be at stake except life itself, which is why maybe artists are always equating the two and driving everybody crazy by insisting that art is life. Well. Cut us some slack. It’s harder work than one might image, and riskier, and takes a very special and dear kind of mad person.”