Thursday, May 28, 2009

After A Long Pause

A long pause. No painting. I make canvases, I think about painting, but I delay, and avoid going. Its all below the surface, I can't say for myself why this is. But after work today, I packed up my things on my bike and road down the trail into the fields and found a green glen with blue sky and low light and set down to work as best I could. Half hearted really, but thinking that getting at it again would make something click and it would all fall into place. Undeniably there was no shortage of paintable landscape. And I brought my new linen boards to try. And I set up just as I've always done for 30 years (!) and still- the whole question lingered- what am I hoping to do here? What sort of activity is this where you are never satisfied with the result, where hours can go into something that turns to mud and lacks any of the qualities you'd hoped for? It sure is lonely, but the alternative is to not be alone, and I prefer to sit her, alone, and considering the very trivial and unimportant task of getting a tone close to right, and puzzling over the fact that so many great painters before me have done this so easily. Well, they worked at it, and studied it, and worked under and with masters, and for me, its just been me, and some old books, and not too much studying or working at it. Like anyone, I would prefer if it just came easy.
There's a constant conversation running through my head, and a talking to myself, and its no different than any other time, its the monkey mind, chattering, reviewing, commenting, never shutting up. Its outrageous, chatty, and I stand up and feel exhausted, and lay down in the tall new grass, half thinking about deer ticks and wondering if they hang out along the river here, and I just stare up into the trees and the bright young leaves, and consider what this might be all about. On the river is a speed boat with 5 or 6 young people, talking, and laughing, and they have a little kid too, so they must be parents, and they motor up the river, and then drift back slowly, drinking cans of something, and enjoying, I assume, each other. As it should be, as it would be better if I was capable of, but instead, I've decided in some perverse way that what I really like is to paint pictures, and I've promised myself not to think about it too much, to just let it be what it is and let it be that I was wired this way, and that I should do it. Of course, I consider endlessly the ifs ands and buts, and how perverse and sad it is, and how even with other painters there is zero to talk about, as every one's issues are so different, and frankly, the only one's I end up caring about are either my own, or dead painters who I read about.
I just bought another hand mirror for looking at drawings, and I have it with me, and I take the time to look at myself in the mirror, which to someone else might be a common occurrence each day, but for me, I never do, it can be weeks before I do, as we don't have a mirror at home in a normal place like the bathroom, and since I work at home and don't go out much, I don't really pay much attention, but hope that my wife will say something if something's wrong. Anyway, I look, and there I am, and I am shocked a little- I don't look healthy, I look old and droopy, and its depressing, like this really is the beginning of the end. And I was just getting started, it seems. I take pills now for depression, so I can't always tell if a good mood I might have is the pill or actually related to something I am doing, but I've been feeling better for awhile, and so I think about how bad I will feel when I have to lose all of this and go back to dust. And I wonder, what's the point exactly, as I push my bike back through the tall grass, it can't just be experience, and experiencing things, that seems so pointless, there'd be no end, no satisfying it, and so there is art, which is expression, of experience, and so its another layer, and somehow seems to make the soup a little more substantial, though I can't say how much.

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