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Every time I think about color it’s a political statement. [...] It would be a luxury to be white and never have to think about it. [...] The terms used in describing painting have always held a double meaning for me. We’re always talking about color, but colors are also skin colors, and the term ‘colored’ itself—it all means something else to me. You have to choose, as a black artist, what color to make your figures, which I’m very aware of when I paint. [...] I find that I almost never make white people. Butterscotch, brown, or really black-but rarely white.
I think I’ve had to learn that success is not going to come to me the way it came to the blue-chip artists, and that only a small number of artists are really successful in the marketplace, anyway. And it’s not going to be me, or, if so, it’s going to be a late splurge on the order of what happened to Alice [Neel], Elizabeth Catlett, or Faith Ringgold. Faith didn’t get really well-known until she had been out there for at least 30 years. Hustling that job, that painting—working hard and doing it without a lot of responses. I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do, and that’s what keeps me going. As an eight-year-old, that’s what I wanted. Now I’ve got what I wanted!