The Sight & Insight Podcast

The Paradox of Painting

December 10, 2019

Episode 40

[P]erception and thinking cannot get along without each other." Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking, University of California Press, 1972, p. 188


Roger W. Curtis (1910-2000) Break, break, break, on thy cold grey stones, O sea! o/c, 25 x 30

Seasons Greetings, Art Lovers!

Join Connie, David and Judy for a chat around the coffee table as they discuss the Paradox of Painting.

By definition, a paradox is "a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities." So what are some of the paradoxes we come across in painting? Well, there's the notion of Concept (ie interior thoughts) -v- Percept (external, action-oriented). Or Light -v- darkness. We also have Improvisation, rifting off one thing to come up with another;  winging it -v- a literal, by-the-rules approach. There's also ambiguity -v- the clearly defined and, lastly, just as magnets can both attract and repel, there is the paradox in painting of Attraction, or Forms that Welcome us -v- Repulsion. Too much of anything can also rebuff us. In painting, balance does not necessarily mean equality of elements.

In learning to work with these paradoxes, we have to turn to the Grand School of Nature: the artist's greatest inspiration! George Inness, the prominent American landscape painter is a wonderful example of what can be achieved with paint and canvas.


George Inness, The Storm, 1885, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC, US

We hope you enjoy the conversation. Join us next time for more thoughts on art and the people who make it. Until then:

Happy Holidays from

Connie, David and Judy

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Deck the Halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

The music to Deck the Halls is believed to Welsh in origin and was reputed to have come from a tune called "Nos Galan" dating back to the sixteenth century. In the eighteenth century Mozart used the tune to Deck the Halls for a violin and piano duet J.P. McCaskey is sometimes credited with the lyrics of Deck the Halls but he only edited the Franklin Square Song Collection in which the lyrics were first published. The first publication date of Deck the Halls is 1881.