Richard Diebenkorn’s 10 rules

I love learning about other artist’s self-imposed guidelines for making art or living life. It doesn’t matter the discipline. Being a writer as well as a painter, I know that the two art forms share much in common. I’ve also picked up bits of advice that come out of improv and theater, which seem to ring universally true. Is it possible that we’re all knocking on the same door?

  1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
  2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.
  3. DO search.
  4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
  5. Don’t “discover” a subject – of any kind.
  6. Somehow don’t be bored but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
  7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
  8. Keep thinking about Pollyanna.
  9. Tolerate chaos.
  10. Be careful only in a perverse way.
Cityscape #1, 1963 at SFMOMA

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