Painting perfect circles imperfectly

The idea—to paint circles by hand in homage to Giotto—was disrupted the moment I told someone that I was making a painting made of handmade circles in homage to Giotto, the artist who’s said to be the first artist ever to be able to draw a perfect circle by hand.

The circles I drew by hand were not perfect; they were so imperfect in fact that I had to use language to rescue them from their imperfections by writing, “as long as the circles I draw end up connecting back up to themselves I will consider them to be circles.” 

From that point forward, a point that occurred 4 weeks ago, after I had made dozens upon dozens of handmade circles, I saw that my mission as a painter painting this particular painting was to somehow bring all the circles together, the perfect with the imperfect. 

I use a brush to make my circles, applying paint to the brush and going from there and if that doesn’t work I use stencil, tracing a circle with a small pencil I keep in my golf bag to keep my score if and when I keep score. There’s something to be said about seeing brush strokes in a painting—for the painter to leave them there as they are and for the spectator to see the hand in them.

I’m now rapidly approaching that time in the life of every painting when the painter loses the painting and the painting he thought he was making doesn’t make sense to him anymore. This is the Reverse Gear of Actual Excitement, in which I’m strapped to a rocket ship and transported to a place as strange and unnatural as Daylight Savings Time.

My circles now appear to be overcoming or trying to overcome other circles, to cannibalize their brothers and sisters and propogate at the same time, so rapidly that I’m led to believe I’m creating a brand new planetary system in which the painting itself will soon outgrow its surface.

“Giotto”, painting in progress, acrylic on linen,  March 12, 2019, photo by author.

“Giotto”, painting in progress, acrylic on linen,  March 12, 2019, photo by author.