A Meredith Analysis of Pat Lipsky’s Paintings


So I have been taking a bunch of classes with Pat Lipsky. I was looking for a painting class like my poetry writing groups where we share work and get feedback – and I manifested it – just like I manifested this delicious cup of coffee next to me as I write this.

For me learning from Pat encapsulates everything that is unquantifiable about education (or learning), what it means to be a student or a teacher, the notion of linages, and I even think a little about tantra and the importance of a guru – that you make a decision as to the path you are going to follow, who is going to be your teacher, who are you going to be influenced by. I think that Pat is quoting someone when she says the most important thing you decide is who you will be influenced by – or maybe she said it herself or maybe I just made that up. What I have learned I cannot record in a blog post, but the records are in my body, my body as expressed in my work, my body as expressed in my decision making on what to be influenced by, my saturday mornings in bed with artist monographs and journals (Paul Klee or Van Gogh) – although I do have a ginormous tomb of Duchamp’s that I keep on my desk. Maybe I am not fully ready to give myself over to a guru.

Anyway lets talk about Pat’s paintings. I took an art history class with Pat and the last class was discussing her work. And now I have opinions. I am not going to display the paintings here. Instead I will put the link and then go to Pat’s site.

And this is going to be very fast and loose – because that is the way I roll

Wavy Lines

Pat says here that some of these paintings represent lines that are related logarithmically … or are the results of logarithmic calculations. I am not sure. In any case some lines go off the page, some end in splatters, some seem influenced by Rothko.

What I see is a perception of the world. The world is continuous. What does it mean to be continuous – it means one thing flows into another, there may be boundaries but there are no ruptures, there are no gaps. And of course I would see this because this is one of my questions is… is the world continuous or discrete.. and I direct you to the paradox of zeno’s arrow. So in Pat’s work are color worlds and lines and composition and I am moved and I can look at these pictures for hours. BUT there is the metacontext – the mind of Pat and in this mind perhaps the world is continuous. The world here also has directionality but I would not say orientation. Again this is another meredith-ism. But I will save this for later


Keep clicking on next and eventually you come to the squares. I did ask Pat why she did the squares, but I am not going to write it down, because it does not feel right. How ever her answer was about what doing squares did materially, how it alllowed her to paint differently (it was not a conceptual answer). So what is the square/ the grid…

This my friends is discrete. The world is discrete. It is filled with quantum jumps and holes in the number line. It is the why the arrow never reaches the destination. It is the world of the analog computer, of quantification of Descartes. So the world Pat is now painting is descrete.

It also has all four directions. It has microworlds that one can control. The squares sometimes contain little triangles, they have different colors, they need more attention, the paint handling is different. Each square could be its own world. This is a lot of work, a different kind of work than the continuous flow of log I mean doing quantitative analysis is a lot of work. But yes, here directionality has expanded, perhaps we can even say dimensionality. We have four directions. The line has become the square.

Also there is something about the prints that remind me of pixels. The paintings dont, but the prints do. Prints are mediated by technology, the print making device, and this is a further reduction of resolution – so the pixel vision makes sense to me. Just throwing that out there. Pixels are how images are made with discrete math (versus the continuous math of me moving a paint brush).

Up and down squares

So we are going to skip decades and move to the up and down horizontal bar paintings. So these have directionality and orientation. I have no idea why these have orientation but the earlier ones do not. I have to meditate on that. But it is true. What is direction via orientation. Direction is the way something goes, orientation is something that is relation to bodies. So maybe these paintings are embodied in a way the earlier ones were not – I dont know.

So yes color line composition – these are all different. But here there are long rectangles not curves and they have distinct edges for the most part and they go up and down at different rates within the paintings. Why are they embodied in a different way? It could be the color, it could be the way they are distinguished from one another, it could even be their inter-relation on the canvas in that some rectangles start at different points than others.

So this is still a discrete world. It is a world with boxes, but it is a discrete world with orientation. A piece of information has signal and noise. This is how you measure it. It does not have orientation, it does not have a body. Maybe it has direction in that you read it in a certain way for the bits to make sense. And here is a link to Shannon and information theory so you know how smart I am.

So this is beyond information there, the information theory of discrete math. But it is still discrete.


So we are back here at the wavy lines. But notice! they are different! The have spaces between them. They are distinct. Continuous yet discrete. The wavy lines are very constant in color, except for one painting that has obvious paint handling and seems a bit Rothko inspired. What sort of world is this now, the discrete continuous… the biological.. the organic. Logs are a way to measure biological phenomenal. Sound volume exists for us to hear on a logarithmic scale. The rectangles and squares are a-personal. The wavy lines with spaces between the lines give me orientation in a way that the ones without do not. For there to be a body there needs to be space within which the body exists. it needs to perhaps be a space that I can imagine my body … my body is perhaps what gives the painting orientation. Or maybe the painting itself has a body, and maybe some paintings have bodies and some dont. Anyway I really loved looking at this paintings and the history of art, and this body of work. For myself I would love to have a body of work, and I suppose I do, but it is not really painting.


Originally I was going to write about the waves as FFT, fast fourier transforms, and how this describes Pat’s wave paintings. They are like sound waves, or harmonics, and then I was going to talk about the squares as pulses or individual notes 440Hz for A yada yaa. Then I was going to talk about K-space and gaussian distributions as a way to explore painting and visual language. But I am not I am just going to put it here – so I sort of did talk about it.

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