It’s About the Paint. Or the Music.

“Unsquare Dance”
Colors of Jazz Collection
©2020, Molly Larson Cook
28″ x 22″
Acrylic on canvas


I’ve been reading about paint.

The thing is that the “art” of painting is about chemistry as much as it’s about art.  I’m not a chemist. In fact, I failed chemistry and all it took to determine my inability to master chemistry was two days in a high school class.  Granted, I might do better now, but I doubt it.

Still, there’s no denying the role of chemistry in art.  The media – oils, acrylics, watercolor, pastels, and more – and the colors themselves depend on chemistry.  Understanding it all in depth is well above my pay grade, but it’s important to have at least a working knowledge. Thankfully, there are instructors, books, and videos that give us all the information we need.

It’s a little like not knowing exactly how my car operates, but understanding enough to get the oil changed when it’s due, being able to drive safely in snow, and knowing where the spare tire is in case I need it.

“What you see is what you see.”  These words from artist Frank Stella pretty much sum up my relationship to the paint, as they did his.  Or, as someone else wisely put it, “Painting is about paint.”

Those of us who happily reside in the abstract expressionist world where we sometimes paint things four-year-olds could paint (they couldn’t) love the paint.  And me, like others before me, I love the colors.  When I’m occasionally asked what any one of my paintings is about, the answer is simple: Color.

I was advised a few years back by an artist mentor that I’d better be prepared with a little more than that because potential buyers expect a somewhat more complex answer.  So I learned Artspeak.  I learned to talk about design and the balance of light and dark and a lot of other technical points of painting which I’m happy to include in my answer while in the back of my mind I’m whispering to myself, “It’s just about color.”

The title for this painting comes from one of Dave Brubeck’s quirkiest tunes, “Unsquare Dance,” written in 7/4 time.  Complex, yes.  But I hope if anybody had asked him what that tune was really about, what it meant, the way people ask artists, he’d have said, “Music.”

















One thought on “It’s About the Paint. Or the Music.

  1. Love this analogy, Molly. Paint. Music. Words. The result is about…that we’ve done it.

    Also attaching a screen grab of the “post ad support”. I assume you don’t get to pick what your advertising. Just thought, it doesn’t seem like your…color…for the times we are in.

    Thanks. Rob Hirsch



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