Submitted by Benny Fountain
To paint from observation is to highly value appearances, to find oneself captured by them, enamored. What is the draw of appearances? Why do they exert such power?
As light waves traveling from the sun reflect off a cup, into one’s eyes, a person interprets these light sensations into “cup” through one’s history of having held one, through memories of porcelain to lip. Without such past experiences, these retinal events would be bare sensation, detached visual phenomena without interpretation.
As pleasurable as pure sensation may be, one’s ability to see meaningfully, it seems, is dependent on memory of touch and use. Every appearance, then, triggers a rich web of memory. Memory grabs hold of past experiences and infuses them into what is presently seen.
The act of seeing becomes (through memory) a unifying force that gathers in the separated fragments of isolated sensations, giving one a sense of rootedness and stability.
It is exactly this—seeing as binding force—that captivates my attention and makes me wish to paint. Each painting, then, is a struggle to create a metaphor for this powerful reality, for this experienced coherent world.