Thursday, March 03, 2005

Artistic Ponderings and Scary Paintings

I'm working on a new painting, no title as yet. I'm so glad to have a new piece with which to play, although it is hard to be patient sometimes and let the whole thing evolve. I want it to be brilliant and perfect and finished right now! Not later! But all I can do is paint what seems right at the time, and then wait for the next part to appear when it is ready.

I wonder sometimes if this is what writing a novel feels like. You have these characters and these worlds that appear in your head. These people that speak to you whom you have never met. And you just wait until they tell you what they need to tell you, and you write it down and hope that it works. As an insatiable reader, I have utmost respect and awe for these storytellers, as this is not my gift. But I think I know what they mean when they say these characters just appear on the page. My paintings feel like that. It is perplexing sometimes. Who put these images in my head? Why are they here? They are really not that much related to my everyday, go to work, go to yoga, come home and eat dinner kind of life.

There isn't a strong connection between what I paint and the kind of person I am. If you saw me on the street, you probably wouldn't think I painted wacky psychedelic paintings. Who is that person in me that does this? Ultimately, I don't think it helps to try and dissect it, to understand why. I think you just have to gratefully and graciously accept it and ride it to where it takes you. Humbling and exhilerating at the same time.

Sometimes after working on a painting for a few days you can't see it anymore. You get too close to it, it has become a part of your vision instead of something separate from you. It becomes necessary to see it fresh in order to see what else needs to be done. To remedy this, sometimes I will look at it upside down, or in a mirror, or take a photo of it, or I will hang it somewhere in my apartment where I don't usually see it. That way I come upon it unexpectedly and then I say, "Oh! Of course! I forgot to add the fireflies!" And I'm off and running again, and all is new. This happens over and over again with the painting until finally I really don't see anything new. It no longer has something demanding my attention. Then I know it is done.

However, there is one small danger to my little repositioning trick. I set out this latest painting on my living room floor so the first thing I would see coming home would be my painting, surprise! A good way to get a fresh perspective on it. Except when you get beeped to the hospital to be a doula, and you have to ask your landlord to come up to your apartment and turn off your crockpot. You've forgotten that you've left the aforementioned painting right there at the door, a kinda scary painting of a woman's naked woman's torso with sea creatures. So when I get home late that night and open the door, I have a fresh perspective of the painting all right, as I think of my landlord seeing this painting. Sigh. The hazards of the painterly life. I'll be a little sheepish next time I hand over my rent check.

Oh and by the way, the Somerville Open Studios website now has this year's artists on it, including, you guessed it, moi.

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