- Art, Birthday, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“If you’re overwhelmed by the whole, break it down into pieces.”


Happy birthday, Chuck Close! 79, today!

“Art saved my life.”

“Painting is the frozen evidence of a performance.”

“It’s always wrong before it’s right.”

“All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

“Every idea occurs while you are working. If you are sitting around waiting for inspiration, you could sit there forever.”

“Get yourself in trouble. If you get yourself in trouble, you don’t have the answers. And if you don’t have the answers, your solution will more likely be personal because no one else’s solutions will seem appropriate. You’ll have to come up with your own.”

“I think problem-solving is greatly overstressed. The far more important thing is problem creation.”

“Virtually everything I’ve done has been a product of—or has been influenced by—my learning disabilities. I don’t recognize faces, and I don’t remember names, either. But I have almost perfect photographic memory for things that are two-dimensional.”

“The choice not to do something is almost always more interesting than the choice to do something.”

“Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will—through work—bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.”

“A face is a road map of someone’s life. Without any need to amplify that or draw attention to it, there’s a great deal that’s communicated about who this person is and what their life experiences have been.”

“Painting is a lie. It’s the most magic of all media, the most transcendent. It makes space where there is no space.”

“Painting’s been dead several times in my career already. And that’s always the best time to start painting.”

“When I was first in the hospital and things were really grim, someone said to me, ‘Oh, you’ll be all right because you paint with your head and not with your hands.’ And at first that really pissed me off. I thought, Easy for you to say. But it was absolutely true. Once you know what art looks like, you’re gonna find a way to make it again.”

“You don’t have to have a dramatic story. It’s all in the telling.”

“I didn’t get into art for therapy. I go to therapy for therapy.”

“Nuance and subtlety is where it’s at. It’s those little adjustments. You get something 99 percent of the way there, but it’s that last one percent that makes the difference.”

“I miss being alone. Being alone is not the same as loneliness.”


  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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