Monday, September 13, 2010

Painting, a painting, three times, it falls apart

One painting this summer. Three times out in the field. Looking at the same old problem: a bunch of grass (in this case a corn field), and some trees in the distance, and the light just starting to come down off to the side. But not too low, because that gets to be cheap, the moody orange light, just catching the tops of tree clumps, and raking the fields. OK, eventually i fell prey to temptation, but only when i lost track of what the heck i was doing, and the light got low enough that i felt justified in punching in some orange.

And a few weeks later, tired, but knowing i need to save the start of this painting, i drove down the same dusty road, set up, and peered in again into colors now two weeks further towards fall time, and the corn taller. But it falls apart, and i can't get the sense of it, and scratch, and scrape, and try to see something appear that would be something new, something awesome that makes it all ok.

Maybe i see a little, maybe there;s the hint of an idea there, that makes sense to me. I cant say what that would be, sometime its just a line or two, and angle, a shape that makes sense. When i try to put it to words, it sounds formulaic, I look for lines that orgaize the shapoes that are already there. And some way of laying in the paint that is really awesome, not just poked at, but really intentional, really showing that i have something memorized in my muscles and can lay in paint like i know it. But i dont really. I dont want it to be slick, but i want it to be sharp, and right, and it can be messy, but it cant be fussy.

Third time, it just gets dark. Too big a painting and no real idea of what time of day it is that i am trying to paint anymore. And i dont really want to be there, Im just trying to put in some August time, the best time, the witching hour for painting, the great light, and the stillness. But i cant get it. Just poking, just laying in a green, a blue, a white for the sky, and trying to paint like i did when i was 20: without knowing a damn thing, but totally on it, totally excited about the way it came off the brush, and how it dried, and looked like something, like i knew what the heck i was doing. That doesn't happen too often anymore. Too bad. So this really goes no where and falls crashing to the ground and i scrape at it and take the back of my brush and indent lines and that doesn't work so i think maybe i can get life back in this with a thick pencil and figuring out the shapes again...always works, or sometimes, but misses this time. So I pack it up.

And then the summer ends, and there's the coolness of fall in the air, and its all done. And the painting sits on a chair, and looks all wrong, and i know i maybe get another 10 or 20 chances to pass through August again, if all goes well, with a paintbrush in hand. So losing one maybe is no big deal, and here it is September, its own color, and the fields laying just so, with mist coming up late as it gets dark, and that tinge of brown that works its way up from the ground into everything, before everything falls to the ground. You try to breath it in, to absorb a part of it deep in you, to know it so it sets in as powerful as it can be because you know you pass through most of life missing this sort of thing, happening 24/7, all around, and paintings a bit of breathing in, of trying to get a part of it locked in, solid, and deep.