What I Learn From Painting
Around 2am I usually just can't paint any more. Sometimes it's a tad later. Sometimes a tad earlier. But usually it's about five or six hours in and my hand is cramped and my back is aching and my eyes are starting to blur and my brushstrokes start to lose their precision. The good things is that once I get like that I usually feel pretty good about my work for the night. It means that I covered a lot of ground. Painting is about 'the process' as much as 'the product'. Sometimes, it's just a lot of blanks to fill in. You see, the story is written. The path is clear. I'm just following a dotted line that leads to an inevitable conclusion. There are nuances to be explored, and colors and lines to be enunciated but the gist of the piece - this piece that I'm working on right now anyhow - was decided long ago. I am merely completing the vision.
While I paint, my mind wanders through many worlds and my heart travels through multitudinous emotions the way one might try on different outfits. And there are pure zen moments where I'm not thinking about anything. Or elated loving moments where my heart is suddenly sort of glowing. Don't dwell on it, though! Such feelings are mere feelings and as ephemeral as the clouds. But I do appreciate those moments. It never hurts to simply center one's sense of consciousness in the center of one's chest instead of in the center of the head, where we tend to look out at the world from.
It’s not all just pretty pictures: The Politics of Life
One might think that one might surmise from the general nature of my work and my posts that I'm not a particularly political minded person. I almost wish that were true. What is true is that I pay attention to the politics. By that, I don't mean just the 'political figures' but ALL of it. In my opinion, it's all politics. Since man first understood the connection between ego and a sense of power there have been politics. Unfortunately, today there is a deeply rooted connection between money, politics, and power. This quality is a sad thing to watch and yet it is what shapes the most important affronts to our health and well being from an entity outside of our own minds that exists today.
And it comes at us from all fronts - from the health care to the war mongers to the internet freedoms to the agricultural debacles to the religious pandering... it doesn't seem to end.
The Art of Discovery
I started cataloging our art books today. Very exciting, I know. We have quite a library of books all together - between the art book collection, the dozens of philosophy books and the many volumes in between it spans more than a few centuries of knowledge and inspiration. What boggles my mind, when I look at the couple hundred books of paintings and drawings, is the lifetimes they represent. Hours, days, weeks, years of the lives of men and women who dedicated themselves to the creative urge. And each book - each artist - is a facet of a jewel that allows the light of inspiration to pass through it in a particular manner creating shapes, motifs, themes and designs, entire stories, entire lifetimes.
The books on the shelves are organized into several sections. One shelf holds the rather modern day visionary artist types - Robert Venosa, Mati Klarwein, Alex Grey, Gil Bruvel, etc - then a shelf of illustrators - Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Harry Clarke, Dr. Seuss, and more - then art history - historical movements like Art Nouveau, Surrealism, etc - and then, of course, many shelves of just artists - Vincent Van Gogh, Max Ernst, Michelangelo, Salvador Dali, Frantisek Kupka, Hieronymus Bosch, Gustav Klimt, and more more more.
Balancing the Absurd and the “Spiritual”
At some point, somewhere, I read something about Surreal art and it's propensity for delighting in the erotic, the absurd, and the bizarre. Maybe it was Wikipedia... In any case, the truth is - Surrealism, as an art form, tends towards the erotic and the absurd. Was a painting in the Surrealist vein meant to make any sense? Or is it meant to simply jostle forth a free association of patterns, concepts, and ideas from the subconscious - placing a seemingly randomly associated sequence of images together, allowing the viewer to stitch them into some sensible relationship, a sort of Rorschach test in paint. I think that if the piece were "directed" towards some conscious goal or had too much consideration given to composition, then it would no longer be a mapping of that subconscious void space. I think that this is why Dali was ultimately ousted from the Surrealist Group - he began to try to direct that inner eye.
I think it a wondrous thing to paint the randomness as it arrives and kill of the self-editor that tries to squash our visions. However, I also think it is also a wonderful thing to be able to direct the vision and work with it - lead forwards without getting distracted by the swarming fetishes and the fireworks throwing cavalcade. Hand in hand, you can allow it to lead you, the artist, to the highest point you can imagine. Every corner, each nuance, is a chance to pull the painting higher, deeper, and into more profoundly illuminating realms.