Thursday, April 17, 2008

I finally located Scrawny Joe across the street, in a bush that rustled and yowled. The old dish of cat food to rattle worked like a charm; that and acting like I could care less if he was there. If it hadn't worked, it would have been time to pull out the big guns and open a can of tuna - this is best saved for desperate measures, because it attracts EVERY cat in a two block radius. I got him in the house (FINALLY!), cleaned his gnarly little wound and doped him up so he would sleep and stop pacing and fretting.

The car was in the shop for brake issues yesterday, so I was off the carpooze hook - "Honey" picked the kids up and I was given the lovely gift of an afternoon without scheduling, so I painted.

Its been so long since I was really a daily painter, I think I've forgotten how to get in the groove, but I'm trying to get back there.

Yesterday, it felt good to just focus on a canvas. Forgetting all the world, I lost myself in the patterning of a damask tablecloth and the delicate striations of flower petals. The feel of the paint as it slipped from the brush and slid down the canvas, curving and swerving, was almost a hypnotic experience. The faces of the women remain vague; they haven't revealed themselves just yet, so the patterns of the room around them continue to build up around them, as definition for now.

Bea and I were looking at the painting in progress last night and comparing it to another, earlier painting on the wall. Something about juxtaposing patterns as well as color is very pleasing to me. Not just for the contrasts in color and texture, but because patterns are soothing to paint and exciting to look at in a finished piece.

I was having an internal conversation yesterday, while painting, about the Whys of what I paint. You know, sort of like the crap they ask you to come up with for a slide in an Art History test - 16th c. Italian, Mannerist, contraposto forms, kineticism, depicts moment of ecstasy - that kind of junk, only like a reviewer would say it. "Gauguin (Oops - Van Gogh, thanks Cin!) wasn't out of his gourd when he painted Starry Night, rather he was showing his awareness of the minuteness of his place in the bigger world, blah blah blah..." I truly doubt ANY artist sits down and consciously investigates what they're doing while they're doing it. "Hmmm, I enjoy drawing little spirals because they're the symbol of the route to the underworld, and as a pagan, I must be sure to cram my belief system down everyone's throat, every time I paint."

Where was I? Having a conversation with myself, I think. Yeah. I was thinking about the fact that I do tend towards patterns anymore, and sometimes I don't really care if there is such a thing as perspective when I'm doing that. But how would you explain that to a professor who's critiquing your work, and make it sound good enough to get away with it (because that's how its done, my chickens)? I don't think I would have been able to defend my reasons for what I was painting when I was in college, but the ensuing years have given me a better sense of self than I had at 22, as well as a better idea of why I like to paint certain things. I'd like to think I could bullshit with the best of them now, but I can't help but wonder why anybody needs to explain a picture? Either it works or it doesn't; you get it or you don't. Hemingway may have been a gifted writer, but he was still a misogynistic, alcoholic prick who wrote stuff I could give a rat's butt about. Poe may have written the perfect short story, but Jesus Christ, are they morbidly dull! Andy Warhol may be considered the father of Pop Art, but I still think he was a fucking creativity vampire, who sucked the essence out of others and took the credit. Van Gogh may have been a gifted artist who actually knew what he was doing, but he was still misunderstood and miserable most of his life.

The point is: you can't spend your life and your precious time worrying about whether or not other people "get" you. You have to go where your muse leads, and other people follow, great. If not, maybe you're ahead of your time - look at Leonardo da Vinci - everyone thought he was a loser who could never finish a job, because he was always drawing in his notebooks instead.


Madge said...

I am so glad you are painting every day. You're inspiring me to stop freaking out and get busy

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I've always wondered what goes on inside an artist's head while they are creating. I particularly liked your description of painting the spirals and associating it with pagan symbolism. It's all about looking at things on the slant.

Oh, and thank you for the comment you made to day about the poem. Your opinion means a lot to me.

flutter said...

it seems to me that you are doing your muse wild justice

maggie, dammit said...

Bravo, darlin'. This is a wonderful, wonderful post.

FairiesNest said...

ummm my inner librarian has to step in here and mention that Van Gogh painted Starry Night...I know, I just can't help myself. I agree about the whole justification of art either works or not...and it may work in totally different ways for different people. And just for the record and because I'm your snarky big sister...Hemingway did write "A Movable Feast" which is a lovely book even if he was a lousy person.

Anonymous said...

France...the country that gave us Renoir,Manet,Monet,Van Gogh,Gaugin, has hailed Jerry Lewis as a genius! Why bother? Love ya, Ms. Q

Lara said...

I said something similar just yesterday I think... that rules were meant to be broken, and art isn't art unless it touches someone. A technically great piece is nothing if it captures something that you don't care about.

Who was it that said something like "do what you love and love what you do?" Besides me, I mean?

Jennifer H said...

Follow your Muse. She seems to know where she's going.

Your American Idol! said...

Well said. You sparked me to go back to Wilco:

If you feel like singing a song
And you want other people to sing along
Then just sing what you feel
Don't let anyone say it's wrong

And if you're trying to paint a picture
But you're not sure which colors belong
Just paint what you see
Don't let anyone say it's wrong

Revenant said...

Hah. This was perfect for me today! I am going to take the pessimists view. Even if you are screwed up an miserable you can so many good things.