The following list was found among the papers of the painter Richard Diebenkorn after his death in 1993. Spelling and capitalization are as in the original. (Via Terry Teachout.)
Notes to myself on beginning a painting
- attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
- The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued — except as a stimulus for further moves.
- Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
- Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
- Dont “discover” a subject — of any kind.
- Somehow don’t be bored — but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
- Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
- Keep thinking about Polyanna.
- Tolerate chaos.
- Be careful only in a perverse way.
Image: Richard Diebenkorn’s painting Ocean Park No. 129, 1984.