This same stillness is oppressive to my newly graduated son, recently returned home from university with his life put on pause just at the moment his momentum was mounting. His feet ache to race forward, even as mine are stubbornly dragging. Sometimes our feet all stop their nonsense and meet in the kitchen for conversation and coffee.
The planets we strained to reach
That was how being young tasted...
I am no longer young except to those who are older
In the way that youth moves along
The conveyor belt
At a consistent distance
- Alicia Jo Rabins, Fruit Geode
About the painting: beginning with a greyscale composition, then adding thick layers of acrylic paint directly onto the board and blending with an extra large brush. Spray bottle and water. Then more paint and a fluffy dry-brushing. This one nearly painted itself - the paint knew just where it wanted to go.
Our cats are not hunting mice (flies, perhaps. And lint.) but mostly neither hinders the humans (though the dog feels free to bother everyone). Highly adept at social distancing, these inscrutable beasts manage to live their days without much input from the rest of us, apparently without tedium. We cross paths throughout the house, sometimes interacting, sometimes without as much as a glance.
So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
- PANGUR BÁN, translated from the Irish by Robin Flower
About the painting: This began as an abstract composition in grayscale. Which inadvertently became a palette for paint from another painting (what can I say...my paintings and my paint palette often look similar). Which began to have a form. This is acrylic mixed with white gesso (to make the paint matte and chalky) with a little bit of colored pencil.
"The Great Paradox of Being" - acrylic on wood panel, 11" x 18" x .5". Ready to hang. Available here and at Artfinder.
It is a great paradox of being that each of us is born complete and yet we need contact with life in order to be whole. Somehow we need each other to know that completeness, though we are never finished in that journey. - MARK NEPO, The Exquisite Risk
There is a melange of work going on in the studio. Abstract, figurative, whimsical...and then this - whimsicalized abstracted trees? Well, this is what happens when you leave an artist to her own devices for weeks on end. With cats. And a chihuahua. And a studio partner who may be painting, may be recording music or may be building custom creations from wood. And sunshine. And open windows and breezes. And a world shouting STAY AT HOME!
Things will always break apart and come together. Yet, in our pain, we often lose sight of their transformative connection: that each cocoon must break so the next butterfly can be. And it is our curse and blessing to die and be born so many times. So many sheddings. So many wings. But in this is the chief work of love: to comfort each other each time we break, to midwife each other each time we're born, and to be the missing piece in what we need to learn, again and again. - MARK NEPO
Things as we knew them are surely breaking apart...and also coming together. Perhaps in new ways, surely in unfamiliar ones. There are so many deepened connections - people reaching, comforting, midwifing each other's dreams, supporting and encouraging one another. Is it just me who finds this sense of unmasked connection (irony intended) and social vulnerability refreshing and encouraging? We unmask even as we are masking. The missing pieces are, perhaps, coming together?
About the painting: as is my current tendency, a grayscale composition in gesso to begin. Layers of acrylic paint and acrylic paint mixed with gesso. Liberal use of a water bottle and sprayer, along with rubber wedge, paper towels and chopsticks. I won't swear to it but there might be a few cat paw prints hidden in there, too.
"Strange Truth" - acrylic on wood panel, 24" x 28". Available here and at Artfinder.
The strange truth is that, while we are being battered by existence outwardly, we are, in spite of ourselves, growing inwardly, the way weather causes vegetables to grow. - MARK NEPO, The Exquisite Risk
Another week in the land of introverts, where social distancing is embraced with sighs of relief. Portlanders know how to be alone. :)
In the studio, the pile of wood panels grows smaller (and not just because Wonder Mike decided they make excellent chew toys) as the paint jars empty. There is a delicious gloriousness in painting at all hours and looking at the calendar to see days and days of empty squares - nowhere to go and nothing that must be done. We are growing inwardly, like Nepo's vegetables.
In actuality, we have little control over our time on earth, other than the degree to which we choose to root ourselves and stand tall before the wind and rain and sun. As human beings, this translates to being present and staying open. There are silences which, if entered, will sing. - NEPO
A world of people forced to root and stand tall. A bazillion abodes with occupants being present. A bajillion silences to be entered, All these songs to be sung.
About the painting: gesso'd grayscale composition with layers of acrylic paint and acrylic mixed with gesso. Liberal use of scrapers, chopsticks , paper towels and spray bottles of water. Many thanks to the Facebook critique group, Next Level Artist, for generously providing excellent feedback toward the end of the process and making this piece SING!
I am so relieved that no one can peel back the layers of this painting. :)
The more time I spend in this revised life speed of "20 is Plenty" (going slower than I have to), the more "ahas" and epiphanies pop up and smack me in the forehead. One of them is this: I really, REALLY like slow living.
Let's follow the logic....you might want to be a MotoGP racer, for example (yes, I am obsessed with this sport - thanks to Brian). But once you're out there on the track, going 200 mph with nothing but a leather jacket between you and the gravel, you decide maybe it just isn't worth the pain (abrasions, broken bones, concussions, fiery death) and so you say "meh" and pursue another dream. Which means you really didn't want to be a MotoGP racer in the first place, perhaps.
About the painting: beginning with a grayscale underpainting in gesso and a basic drawing in Posca paint pens, followed by many layers of acrylic, acrylic mixed with gesso and water-based inks liberally spritzed and toweled and scraped. Finished with oil pastel highlights. The title, also from the book, is taken from this quote: "...negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it's because you are supposed to do something."
Let's follow the book's train of thought for a minute, shall we? Here I am, safe at home, stocked pantry, lights on and an AMAZING new love bringing me coffee and kisses in the shower each morning (yep, I said it), and yet if I pay attention to the world (news, social media, my neighbor) I feel like I should be filling my head with worries about all the things I can't do anything about...and then I feel guilty for NOT worrying enough and I wonder if something is wrong with me for not worrying more. Which makes me worry. Mission accomplished, news cycle.
Manson's argument is that we only have so much room for caring about stuff (fucks given, so he says) and should not rent that room for caring to the entire 350 million things a day we are bombarded with out there. Funny that he wrote this before the current Eggplant that Ate Chicago (see prior post) began taking over the world. Hmmmmm. If we have finite room for caring....then we should choose carefully what we care about. Rationing the number of fucks given, so to speak.
About the painting: beginning with a composition in gesso'd gray scale, then adding the requisite 800 million layers of acrylic and gesso mixed with acrylic paint. Care taken to isolate shapes using rubber wedge and small, flat brush. Finished with oil pastel.