Something remarkable happens when you let go of a canvas. It's artsy fruit fly life is done. The decision to abort is abundantly clear. The path is unclear. So I start swishing on new colours, listening to George Ezra. This is fun. The colours gleam brightly for a moment, reacting violently to change. I hold the brush of power and persuasion. It's just paint. Just marks. So why am I starting to feel edgy? Keep singing, George.
I use my palette knife to scrape the excess off. In gobs. I watch hopelessly while the colours merge into an depressing pale hospital dirty pink. It's late afternoon so it's okay to think maybe wine will help. Wow, who knew George could be so annoying! The above canvas was so hideous I picked up a cloth and started washing the surface down. Really, by now, I just wanted to save the canvas because I didn't want to go to the art supply store. Yes, I am lazy and cheap. Despite all the abuse heaped upon it, something had stuck. Soft shadows of the original work clung to the canvas, as well as the muted cacophony of other colours that I had hurled. Striations from the palette knife were revealed too. Everything became so soft. And friendly. I was left with a beautiful multicoloured, textured surface, one that I could not have imagined. Like magic, the sun was in my head!
I once stared for hours at a Matisse painting called "Purple Robe and Anenomes". I had not thought about that painting for years and suddenly I knew this surface would be perfect to create a line painting emphasizing round, straight, thin, fat, solid and weak. I drew, but the canvas had already painted itself.
I am so happy with the surprise of this canvas, The Little Chat.
And, just so you know, I never did grab the glass the wine.
The blank canvas is the nice part.
The beginning of a house starts with a muddy hole in ground. The most seriously delicious cakes start with floury, milky, eggy goup in a bowl. Even life, in all it's diverse unimaginable glory, starts with messy ole sex. Mess is the real start.
At least that is the trajectory of my art making. I think I have it all figured out. I even play around with a few sketches. And then it starts. Then it crashes.
All those bits, blobs, streaks, dots, etches, swirls, crazy mismatched colours and dried paint are part of the mess. I can sometimes paint a whole day and, at sunset, I have to admit mess wins. I used to turn canvases around so I could bury the mess until the next day. Now it's easier to face the mess. Hello, tell me your secrets! Listen to lines that go to wrong places, dragging helpless colours with them. What was I thinking? Tolerate all the shapes that seem too big, too small, too silly. Hiding in plain site, there is usually a little divine nudge . A spark of harmony, a hint of surprise, a new direction.
I had an art teacher who once said be kind to your mistakes and messes - it will be what makes your work great.
I fear if I am not willing to engage in this relationship, with the mess of art, my work will never find a pulse or visual heartbeat.
Of course I am happy when a painting is finished. But when I view it I can't help remembering and cherishing the lovely mess.
Already bright pinks are drowning into purples, reds darkening to browns and greens draining to yellow. Proud flowers are starting to topple over, burdened by their top heavy beauty.
Now to the business of seeds.
Good to think of seeds during this time.
What kind of art seeds do I want to plant now?
End of summer marks a return to the studio where I'll find out, discover new ways to make marks with paints, pencils and ink and whatever else is available. Facing blank canvasses fills me with dread, uncertainty and mountains of self doubt. But these are my old friends, cronies who drop by the studio every fall for cup of tepid tea and stay for just as long as I let them. I know them well. If I entertain them too long they just get boring.
I'm really much more interested in the seeds