Amy Sillman hits the nail on the head like the badass painter she is. I have always been baffled by this little paragraph of hers. So few words! Making marks will always be relevant. There are too many combinations/ options of whats below for it not to be (and these just skim its surface).

Surfaces can be smooth, toothy, matte, glossy, worked, fresh, hard and soft

Tones can be light, dark, mid, muted, and vibrant

Silhouettes can be subtle, nuanced, gauzy, or blocky

Lines can be weighted and heavy, light and suggestive, thoughtful or spontaneous

Space can be believable, imagined, recede, or flatten out

Zones can be mapped out, made cohesive, broken down, and divided

Layers are thick and thin, transparent, opaque, cover and reveal

Scale is anything from monumental to miniature

Speed can be slap-dash or slowed down, and snail-ish

Masses can be heavy, ethereal, stacked, layered, or vacant


From there, (and simultaneously to add), she reminds us that…


Meaning can be simple, understood, injected, confused and complicated,

Text can be seen and spelled out, made reference to, or rejected

Signs signify, symbolize, catalyze, repeat, and warn

Language can inform, challenge, instruct, be familiar, or foreign

Intentions aim, direct, and aspire. They can be lost, accidental, misread, and misused

Concepts conceived by you, or others, abstract or concrete, fuzzy or focused

History is ancient, or an hour ago. important, forgotten, celebrated, and repressed


She speaks about time as an atemporal free-for-all, and how affection, hatred, and believing initiate motivation and drive.

Wrap all that up with self-consciousness and bouts of self-doubt…and there!, you’ve made a painting! Hopefully its good…


Stuff Change , Amy Sillman, Sikkema Jenkins Co. NYC, 2016.

Stuff Change, Amy Sillman, Sikkema Jenkins Co. NYC, 2016.

Connor CharlesworthComment