Here is my painting #43:
To be honest, this is a rework of the corpse of my Painting #31 (second take). So strictly speaking, this is take 3. I have always liked this painting, but comparing it side-by-side to some of my favourite abstracts in Pinterest, I could see I was trying too hard – the painting had some good elements but was too busy. So I decided to rework this in the same colour, but more opaque and then just leaving a smaller active area. I think the outcome is an improvement?
This was done almost as an afterthought to my afternoon painting session, after I had added more depth and glazes on my works in progress. I was shocked at how easily the image came out despite a fairly low level of concentration – my son was in the studio, talking incessantly, asking this and that, commenting on which stroke he liked and giving a 13-year old expert opinion for me to digest. Sacred time…
I feel there is a threshold, on the edge of representational and abstract work, and I am teetering on that threshold, lacking the self-confidence to look and say: “Yes, I did that, it is work from my hand, and I approve of it”.
For me, the move away from a strict recipe, a format to follow and a source image to compare to in order to assess: success or failure – that is where my limitation lies. To start with pure abstraction and still retain elements of light and shadow – what a thing to strive for!
I read again this afternoon passages from one of my favourite books, Ernest Becker’s Pullitzer prize winning Denial of Death. Becker talks about our character as a “vital lie” – a defence we build as children to repress the raw unfiltered flood of life (which includes the fact of death). It feels to me as if moving into abstract painting is to some extent a shedding of my “creative character” to move into unknown territory. This is not a trivial transcendence. As Becker describes it:
…the armor of character was so vital to us that to shed it meant to risk death and madness. It is not hard to reason out: If character is a neurotic defense against despair and you shed that defense, you admit the full flood of despair, the full realization of the true human condition, what men are really afraid of, what they struggle against, and are driven toward and away from.
When I watch those spontaneous, vivacious people on YouTube splashing away to create massive Acrylic abstract paintings within an hour or two, I go green with envy. And yet, part of me embraces the anxiety, the constraints, the hesitancy that makes me what I am. This is my road to walk – may I say “Yes” to it!
Che Fece…Il Gran RefiutoFor some people the day comeswhen they have to declare the great Yesor the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yesready within him; and saying it,he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—drags him down all his life.C.P. Cafavy, translated by Edmund KeeleyThis version copied from PoetryFoundation.org
Many thanks for all of you who encourage me with likes and comments, and a special thanks to those who follow my blog. A special thanks also for the insightful comments from some readers to my last post. These require deep thinking, I will reply as soon as I can!