Photo: Self-Portrait of the Artist in Memorosa, Norway.

Photo: Self-Portrait of the Artist in Memorosa, Norway, January, 2010

…Rules will enable you to have a free and sound judgment; since good judgment is born of clear understanding, and a clear understanding comes of reasons derived from sound rules, and sound rules are the issue of sound experience–the common mother of all the sciences and arts.

– Leonardo da Vinci in his General Introduction to the Book on Painting

Indeed, recent experiences have greatly enhanced my judgement. For the first time in my life I no longer suspect, I know; the result of many nights alongside a sage and steady ship captain.

He knew what da Vinci knew:

Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without a rudder or compass and who never can be certain where he is going.

Sailing by night is a perfect metaphor for painting: operation of the boat is craft; changing winds hone wit; and glinting constellations serve as guides, gods and rivals.

I steer toward a certain star, knowing never to get there, but knowing to get some where.

Such travels–and means of traveling–have been devalued to such extent that pure delight can result in discovery of craft alone.

And so it is: when faced with evidence of a compass or rudder, they tremble, like judges of Bruno, those creatures of the night who would put out the stars to conceal the fact they pilot nothing and travel no where.

TJA – July 4th, 2010 – Rome, Italy