Breaking the Rules

March 16, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

MAE AND MAUDIEMAE AND MAUDIEtwo dogs at play while their owner tries to watch TV Donald says speed limits are just suggestions. He throws this over his shoulder as he speeds down the country road, leaving a wide dun-colored plume behind us. I am in the back seat, a little queazy.

A recipe for potato salad can take a fanciful turn if it is just a suggestion. 

Add some radishes. Brine the onions. That one is simple, far simpler than the speed suggestions (to which, I presume, most patrolmen will raise an eyebrow.)

Taking the middle road for art, I can only assume the rules are known. However, not every artist knows about the golden mean, so a bull’s eye painting occurs. It is only the artist that knows about the 3.14... divisional tool of the Golden Rule. That artist can break the Golden Rule by leading the eye here and there, in a seemingly, intuitive way. Subtly, of course. Jean Arp pulled it off in ‘Navel.’

Here lies the mystique of abstract, or modern, art.

Copying the abstractionists might give one some clues. (And by the way, artists have been copying the masters for centuries.) The simplest half inch of placement, the correction of one tree branch in Van Gogh’s cypress, the mesh of lines around the flag in Jasper John’s oils, proportion and perspective in Andy Warhol’s soup cans, and Jean Arp’s lithograph ‘Navel,’ all are centered around broken rules.

All these painting’s can be viewed at and other MOMA locations

So, break rules. Stretch the truth (even if there isn’t one). Distort. Simplify. Embroider. Adjust. Repeat. Juxtapose. Imagine (ah, yes, imagination is often a profound breaking of rules). 

But first--Isn’t there always a catch? 

But first, know the rules. Study. Copy. Explore. Read. And guess what--Practice. Only speed when you are on country roads you know, with all the knowledge of bridges and washes, and where the critics are hiding and how to circumvent them. And that’s by knowledge.

We could be talking about rules to live by--except some rules are necessary. Sorry, Donald. Just think. There would be no need for a rule about murder, if no one had ever been murdered. Just like there is no rule for timber logging in the middle of the Sahara. 

Drive and paint safely.


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