‘Cavewall 001’, 11″ X 19″, pressboard, gypsum, acrylics, 23,000 b.c.e.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I went to school with the crazy idea of finding out why I paint pictures instead of talking to people. I was refused entry unless I admitted first that they know more about art than I do. Never! I yelled at them in a long winded written rant about ivory towers and professors with more credentials than artwork after their names. This didn’t help my quest. So I tried art history. And learned that some people do know more about art than I do. Actually, more about the business of art and why art happens. However it all seemed to revolve around where you were accidentally born, and who you accidentally met on the road to art fame. I was born next to a steel factory in Glasgow, Scotland. And I still haven’t accidentally met anyone famous who needed their egos boosted, which seemed to be the point of most art history. One day, as I attempted to finally speak out loud about my thoughts, I once again saw stars spinning in my face along with the professor leaping at me to prevent my precious skull from smacking into the cement floor. ‘Why don’t you try anthropology!’ she said. ‘I don’t like insects, is that good enough? I replied, still thinking I knew more than anyone else. After my head stopped spinning I learned of the usefulness of anthropology in my search for why I paint pictures. Studying humans might apply well. Aeons passed by very quickly in anthropology. I found an endless supply of reasons why I paint pictures. To have someone pat me on the back and say ‘aren’t you clever’, was a good one. Women like artists was another, although they always seem to like the guitar player/mammoth hunter better. To impress the neighbours in the next cave seemed to be the best one. Then I discovered that no matter what I found out, I would still have to speak outloud. In front of the humans I was studying. Dammit! All I have are pictures, my voice isn’t loud enough, I would fall and crack my valuable brain on your concrete steps, and then what. But they wouldn’t listen to my drawings. And I’m still not an anthropologist. But I think I have a good idea of why I like painting over speech. The entire message of the image moves at once at the speed of light.