28 Years Ago (and little has changed)

I was looking for some writing I'd done in the late 1980's and came across this short but astute observation I made in July, 1989:

"What a difficult day. The paintings elude me.  They hide and tease me but when I think I've found one it withers away, trite and easy.  There are a thousand easy paintings."

This remains true today. While some of my concerns have changed the core sentiment remains the same.  I once again find myself searching and find the paintings elude me.  It is lovely serendipity to come across this old musing - it reminds me that the walk is never finished, there are simply stops along the way.  I'm walking again, in low light and fog but still walking.

The New Year

Today the beginning of a major renovation of two paintings.  I thought they were finished but now I see they are not.  Much was destroyed in the service of something more true and more clear.  I’m beginning to understand that one must deeply love the thing one is creating.  One must nurture it and let it become the most important thing in the world.  At the same time, one must be willing to risk its complete destruction.  It’s a tenuous balance between what appear to be opposite desires but look deeper, and what appears to be destruction is actually another form of love.  It’s the willingness to completely let it go and allow it to become something more true, more clear.  That’s love.

Art Basel

Saw much today.  Many clever things - clever in concept or clever in execution, sometimes both. Many things were entertaining, spectacular and beautiful.  And yet, so little that felt personal or heart-felt.  Heart-created.  Not surprisingly, I found myself drawn to paintings; ones clearly painted by a flawed human being.  Paintings concerned with poetry.  Paintings should be concerned with the poem, not just the “letters” or the “page” it’s written on but the union of all these elements.  As a painter, my paint and canvas are the words and paper of the poet.  No difference. 

It seems such an old idea in the midst of all this work.  I must remember that this is a highly selective group of work and not necessarily a complete representation but, there were themes. Many, very large, very colorful emotionally noncommittal works or, over-the-top overtly screaming sexual, political or conceptual themes.  Hard to see past all this spectacle and find the quieter objects.  The slow art, the quiet art is being made but it’s sitting on the edges, present, but easy to miss.

This does not disturb me. Rather, it’s clarifying.  I am seeing what I don’t want in my work and what I don’t like in my previous work.  This is invaluable.

 

The Arena

The goal is to create a large enough arena within which my ideas can flourish.  An arena far larger than than my typical landscape, animal or theatrical niche.  There is so much more and I look to be free to dance in different ways in different arenas.  Each idea creates a certain set of demands and conditions within which it will best take root and grow.  To deprive the idea (and myself) this opportunity to fully realize itself is cruel and unwise.  To this end, it’s becoming clear this way of working requires greater mindfulness and sensitivity. The studio is not a factory (to quote Enrique Martinez Celaya).  It is a spiritual, athletic and intellectual laboratory.  

The Toddler

This morning I watched a toddler and his Grandmother in the park.  With one hand held gently by Grandmother the other hand of the child pointing, pointing at everything he sees.  He was discovering, questioning or curious - maybe all those.  But what was clear and without any doubt was his sense of WONDER.  HIs face said it all, no words necessary.  He pointed:  look at THAT.  What is THAT?  I want to be closer to THAT!  I like THAT. HIs pointing at the world, eyes filled with wonder reminded me of the way I sometimes feel in the world.  There are moments which are so quietly marvelous that I’m stopped and must simply look and take it all in.  To continue this sense of wonder in the studio is my aim.