In 2003, when Anne Truitt was 82, she wrote a letter to her daughter: “Something strange is happening to me. Certain ways in which I have made my work ever since 1961 have simply — very simply, silently and without saying goodbye — departed from me.” For four decades, she’d innovated and advanced the principles of colourfield painting with near-perfect, immersive canvases and minimalist, colour-blocked sculptures. Now, suddenly, intuitively and almost as if involuntarily, she pivoted towards a new, multi-sensory painting experience. “It’s as if a person had decisively walked quietly out of a room I am used to living in and in which I were thoroughly accustomed to a powerful presence,” she wrote. “I am surprised. What is left is ‘sound,’ some kind of energy without name. More force, no name.”
Anne was accustomed to articulating her interior world. At 53, she’d started keeping a journal about the ups and downs of studio life. At the time, she had a couple of major retrospectives freshly under her belt, but felt overwhelmed with the balancing act of creative life, motherhood and marriage. She published her journals in three volumes between 1982 and 1996.
Now, in her 80s, the quiet departure of a decades-long creative investigation was like the completion of a love affair. Once underway, she understood the purpose and inevitability of this ending and began anew with a series of works on rough paper, brushed with thick monochromes of saturated colour. After some time with them, their name came to her. “Yesterday while walking around, it occurred to me that the ‘name’ of the things I am making out of the beautiful delicate strong paper…is SOUND.” Anne Truitt died the following year, at age 83.
PS: “Artists have no choice but to express their lives.” (Anne Truitt)
Esoterica: “There’s a small, still center into which conception can arrive. And when it arrives, you make it welcome with your experience,” wrote Anne in her journal. Staying susceptible to the ending and beginning of each creative direction releases an artist from the dangerous traps of style, replication and rote production. If we are each a vessel for these seeds of expression, as Anne says, it’s our experience that will determine how each is brought to life. “The [artists’] essential effort is to catapult themselves wholly, without holding back one bit, into a course of action without having any idea where they will end up. They are like riders who gallop into the night, eagerly leaning on their horse’s neck, peering into a blinding rain. And they have to do it over and over again.”
Anne Truitt’s Daybook: The Journal of an Artist, is here.
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“By keeping on being what we most intimately are, we can continually redefine ourselves so that we become what we have not been able to be. If we live this way, we surprise ourselves” (Anne Truitt)
A professional painter in both watercolor and oil for over 35 years, I have been creating plein air workshops in Europe for artists to join me since 1996. Plein air is one of the most exciting methods of painting, and I teach a very easy to learn way of capturing the light quickly, that any artist can apply to their own work during our adventures to Europe. Travel for artists is a great way to immerse yourself in painting and make great advances in your techniques by watching other professionals work, and by sharing your own ideas with other artists we all grow! Authentic locations, such as a 12th Century Castle in Ireland, a French Maison in the countryside of France, or an Italian Villa in an historic hilltop village in Italy are carefully chosen. We want our artists and non-painting guests to feel relaxed and at home, with en-suite bedrooms, excellent chef prepared cuisine, and convenient transfers to painting and exploring locations so you can be where you want to be to create. Join me on our next exciting journey!