Here is my painting number 34.
This somewhat abstract and romantic coloured painting was based on a much larger acrylic painting (photo below) which I quite liked but did not seem to really excite my family (my primary audience).
As you can see, with my Painting #34, I stuck to the original composition and mainly monochrome colour scheme, but in my #34 I decided to try a more intense purplish-blue sky. This took a lot of courage and I am still a bit ambivalent about the outcome. Here is the underpainting:
This week The Question – “Why Paint?” came back and visited me in the studio once again this week. I wrote about this earlier in another post.
To any readers who are professional artists, my harping on this issue may seem strange. But for me as a part-time, amateur painter that question is a constant companion. Each day I enter my studio to see tens of canvases – each representing one or several hours of effort – simply waiting to be “recycled” (scraped off and painted over).
I often have only night time hours, after a day of “real” work, in which to paint. This morning at 6:30 am I stole half an hour before work to do an underpainting for what may become #36. When paintings turn out well, I do not think about The Question too much. But my previous painting took hours of work – intense observation, lots of expensive paint.
Some bloggers kindly gave positive and supportive comments on this painting, which I take to heart and appreciate. But the end result just did not evoke the emotion I was looking for, and five minutes after finishing it, I knew it was doomed. When this happens after so much emotional investment, I have to ask “Why do this?”.
I have done lots of introspection on this – and time and time again I come up with the same answer: If I am centred and still inside, I can paint as a gesture of thanksgiving – a prayerful, slow, concentrated offering of my time, the heart, of the best I can muster, as a creative act of redemption.
But I am struggling to say what I feel – the following statement by Walter Tandy Murch (whose paintings I greatly admire), perhaps expresses what I mean to say:
What does the mind wander to the most while just painting. For me, the secret seems to be paint the Best (controlled) way you can and to your utmost. But while painting let the mind go way out in space. Let the mind wish or desire for the things you know should be (but are not). Let the mind correct what is wrong. Usually the subject you happen to be working on determines to a great extent the path the mind takes. A whole new world exists and moves in the mind while actually making a painting . . . But the thing to remember is that the world that the mind returns to the most will come out, will show in the completed picture . . .
Source: Painting Perceptions Website
I guess I feel that painting can be an act of offering something of myself – to What I cannot say. The hard part – and here I have miles of canvas to go – is to ensure that my attitude is such that the ACT is the thing, and not the result (painting to music helps a lot). I also think the ideal of a “perfect offering” is a trap that can spoil both the act and the result.
How beautifully deep Leonard Cohen has looked into this:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
from “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen from the Album “The Future”
So in conclusion, a note to myself : pause and bow before you enter your studio to paint.
I am quite happy. I leave you with another view about work, and about certainty and uncertainty of what is real and imagined, what is still and what is moving:
Open and Closed SpaceWith his work, as with a glove, a man feels the universe.At noon he rests a while, and lays the gloves aside on a shelf.There they suddenly start growing, grow hugeand make the whole house dark from inside.
The darkened house is out in the April winds.“Amnesty”, the grass whispers, “amnesty.”A boy runs along with an invisible string that goes right up into the sky.There his wild dream of the future flies like a kite, bigger than his town.Further to the north, you see from a hill the blue matting of fir treeson which the shadows of the cloudsdo not move.No, they are moving.
Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly
A heartfelt thanks to all who have commented on my posts, and encouraged me with likes and especially to all followers of my blog. May your wild dream of the future fly like a kite!