Thoughts on Painting

Matty Byloos Art Studio

Crystals, outer space, animal and bird magic, found family photos, fried eggs, chandeliers, Japanese maple trees, forests, mushrooms, staircases, wigs, portals, and Twin Peaks. This has been the “stuff” that forms the subject matter of my current studio practice. One of the generative questions for my ongoing body of paintings has been, What lies beneath our conscious attention, in the recesses of our minds? As a practicing clinical mental health counselor (professional counselor associate status, working under supervision), I’ve become deeply interested in how we compose identity, and how the things that capture our attention in the world are connected to what moves us, what we find beauty and energy in, and our innermost selves.

I’m a list maker, a chronicler, a conjurer of word and image magic. Always have been. The things that resonate with me the most—call it my taste, my loves, etc.—I keep a running tally in my head. Let’s call them, portals. They are windows into how my mind works, stuck points in the world where energy is collected and my attention is caught. Crystals aggregate, stars are born and die, families record memories and discard the remnants for strangers to find. Mushrooms orchestrate a delicate symphony beneath the earth, staircases and liminal spaces speak of the in-betweenness of things, of the not knowing that we must all make peace with in this life.

Each of us is a living network of information, a portal into a deeper kind of knowing, a pathway to connection with others – in relationship, in love, in community. Self-awareness is the first step in creating change, whether that be in ourselves or in the world. Nothing happens without developing deep awareness.

On Having a Studio Practice of Painting

A studio practice for someone making art is not unlike other professional practices, say, for instance, the medical or legal fields, wherein one set of factors is controlled (materials, space, surface, etc.) and another is unknown (the outcome), and so the terms are set for experimentation to take place within an historical framework. Painting is like alchemy, a subtle balancing of chemistry and light so that matter might be transformed into something universal. One learns the use of the material, paint, in much the same way that one learns a language. But the difference between being able to say something (to ask for food when you are hungry, for example) versus being able to express a thought or a feeling in poetry, is all a matter of time, skill, and perseverance.

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