Deliberte! (continued)


I've painted high,
I've painted low.
I've painted fast,
Now I paint slow.

It's probably difficult to understand for anyone unfamiliar with the process, but the act of slow painting yields a sensation unduplicatible by any other means. Of course it's possible to create a beautiful and satisfying work by other methods, but the specific feeling resulting from the deliberate and concentrated creation of a work of art is the closest I've ever felt to spiritual enlightenment. This is not to say that the process always goes smoothly, but when the threshold is crossed (when an underpainting evolves into a transcending expression of something bigger than the individual by whose hand it was crafted) I feel at peace. It is at this point that the artist becomes witness to the unveiling of truths about the subjects he's painting and the world around them.



I seek to have the harmony of “slow” in both my art and my life. One contribution I would make to the themes of “slow” is than an artist is not necessarily the misanthropic genius, justified in leaving lovers, children and family in the dust in pursuit of the artistic goal. To be a truly enlightened individual, one must also be in harmony with, and in service to, the community. I believe that the best art will come from being spiritually rooted. My training and practice has led me to believe that creativity and inspiration arise in an environment that allows for meditation and focus. If lightening the pace of life helps the family body, then spiritual wellness will arise, and art and creativity will have space to percolate and emerge.

I have a great passion for traditional painting—both its methods and subject matter. My vocation has led me believe that there is a great need for a revaluation of beauty and aesthetics in western culture. Though it was perhaps not intended, one result of Modernism is that many artists are not interested in making beautiful things through either subject matter or craft. I want to create a new aesthetic movement that appreciates beauty as ennobling and enriching to human experience. Whether a fine painting, or flowers in a window box, the human spirit is nourished, and the soul lifted, by the experience of beauty. “If I can bring back beauty to a world up wrought, then my living shall not be in vain.”—American Spiritual


Anthony Ackrill was present on January 11, 2004 when the manifesto was signed, but he did not sign it. His painting, Sky Lover, was the first work to be discussed in the ‘normal’ artist’s night that followed. When pressed, he later sent the following comments on the manifesto:

I make paintings. That’s all that I know about it. I am only concerned with my life and how it revolves around my paintings. I am not concerned with how I may be categorized. That’s someone else’s job.

I paint. Then, the framer frames, the shipper ships, the dealer deals, and the critics and historians criticize and categorize the paintings.
My level of interest drops off rapidly after steps one and two. I am not one to intellectualize about myself as a painter or the paintings. To do so would remove the mystery and magic that is in it for me.

The slow movement manifesto, to me, is something that goes without saying. There is no need to talk to me about a slow approach. Slow? I’m the original snail. My idea of a good time is to watch a tree grow. After reading the manifesto for the first time, my response was “well yes, of course.” This is like discussing breathing. I don’t have much to say about it. I inhale, then exhale until one day I’ll stop.

There were, however, two items in the manifesto that I disagree with. Some people are naturally quite talented and do not require a long time to develop good skills and good results. Also, I do not paint slowly. I work as fast as I can. The reason it takes a long time is because there is much to be done. Furthermore, not owning a cell phone or computer, I would not be described as one who “embraces modern technology.” I’m not against these things, I just don’t need them.

I did not sign the manifesto because it was presented to me too soon beforehand and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I’m not a “movement joiner.” I just do what I do. And if what I do or how I do it classifies me in someone else’s mind, that’s okay with me. I’m just not one to make any kind of official declaration and sign a document about it. My life as a painter is too personal of an experience for me to want to hang it out on the clothesline like that. However, if I must be categorized, I am quite pleased to be included in this group. These are all very fine painters and intelligent people whom I respect.

I guess the only movement I would readily join would be if there were a movement for people who aren’t movement-oriented.


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