Jim Doyle | Painting As Politics | Up Coming Pop-Up! | December 15-17, 2017 / by Tasha Ostrander

 Photo: Tasha Ostrander©2017

Photo: Tasha Ostrander©2017


WHEN | DECEMBER 15-17 | 2017
WHERE | MoRe Spirited Gifts at VERVE GALLERY | 219 E. Marcy Street | Santa Fe, NM



SATURDAY | DEC 16 | 10-5pm
SUNDAY | DEC 17 | 11-4pm

Painting as Politics  by Jim Doyle

Because I have worked for years as a national security professional, mostly on issues relating to nuclear weapons, people frequently ask me if my painting is connected to this experience.  It is in several ways.  First, expression through painting is a welcome contrast to the patterns of thinking and communication that dominate national security dialogues.  Producing images with paint and paper frees one from many of the entanglements of narrative argument.  Brushstrokes and pigment offer a refreshingly simplified way of getting one’s point across.  There is no need to explicitly document facts, influences, and previous work to create a credible image.

There is also the joy of working alone, acting in real time without needing to vet or censor.  Impulses and decisions flow without interruption.  No firm boundaries define what is feasible, rational or politically acceptable.  And while selling paintings is devilishly challenging, completing them requires no long drafting, editing, reviewing and publishing process.  

In addition to the happy differences, I find inspiring the mysterious and fascinating similarities between painting and politics.  One key to progressing in both endeavors is learning to ask the right questions. The right questions for painting range from what motivates the artist and the viewer to what particular marks and colors successfully communicate moods, energy, objects and observations?  Painting the way something feels rather than representing how it looks requires perseverance, many false starts and courage to innovate.  Watercolor has a beautiful catalogue of traditional subjects but how does one create a new or interesting look?  Proceeding from these established forms often fails to yield successful outcomes.  One of my ambitions as a painter is simply to learn what repeatable process leads to what visual result and then expand that knowledge in different directions.

Our political era is similarly rife with problems whose solution seems unobtainable through traditional forms such as health care, gun violence and climate change.  To overcome problems that seem to stump all the well-intentioned experts it might be best to consider what we have refused to consider.  What forms of government are needed to best serve the interests of the political collectives that create them?  Are nation-states a sustainable form of political organization in the decades ahead? Can they act effectively to enable enforceable prohibitions on the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction, abuse of human rights or industrial practices that ruin our environment?

The art of painting has embraced the value of transformational approaches for centuries.  It can still provide new insights, understandings and beautiful discoveries. It is an enduring human behavior that strengthens and sustains.  Our politics would do well to incorporate a similar openness to transformation. 

 Untitled, 2017, watercolor on Arches water color paper,30 x 22 in.

Untitled, 2017, watercolor on Arches water color paper,30 x 22 in.