Lee Woods


I don’t think it’s fair to claim to be a ‘self-taught’ artist. In fact, like any artist who, at some point, begins to take a more than superficial interest in their craft and it’s history, I feel that I’ve been taught a huge amount by every great master and every student of a great master painter who ever took the time and trouble to clearly explain exactly what and how they created their work, and write it down in a book that could be researched, tracked down and read by those who are thus motivated. When you compare what they said with the end results, (in museums etc), and then, crucially, try it for yourself – you cannot help but learn!

After all these years of painting, I still feel like a student every time I walk into my studio, which, in my opinion, is a good way to feel. Since Picasso first said it, many modern artists say that their goal when in the moment of creating work is to try to recapture something of their childhood energy and enthusiasm. In the past, throughout most of art’s history, the goal was somewhat different; i.e. to achieve a sort of soothing, meditative state; ‘a state of grace’ – (in the Greek ‘in thrall to the graces’ sense, not the later Christian interpretation). I suppose the modern, non-spiritual equivalent would feel like the back of your neck being gently tickled as you attempt to create your work. Both creative states have their merits. Personally, I’m experimenting with the achievement of both states at once.

To keep this short, I think that I’ve become a painting geek! I love all of that technical stuff about the chemical composition of pigments, knowing which ones dry flexibly and tough and which are fugitive or brittle. I love the pre-modern idea that the ‘creative act’ was achieved in ‘a state of grace’ and principally contained within the drawing, and that translating that drawing into a painting was essentially a kind of long-winded, high-craft ‘process’, with the ultimate aim of creating the illusion that the painting was as near as possible, a spontaneous act! I love the extreme amount of time that that process takes (most of it not actually working but waiting for things to dry of course) when compared with ‘modern’ (post 1860) techniques. The list goes on.

I hadn’t the patience for such things when I was younger, only enthusiasm. Now that I am older, I strive to be enthusiastically patient.

© 2014 Lee Woods   a minim website