Saturday, April 23, 2011

Boundaries of Perception

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Where does the outer world touch the inner world? Where do dreams touch imagination? How is our world defined by our perceptions? Where does heaven touch hell? The more I paint, the less I know, the more questions that surface, the more the layers break down, the more ambiguity and mystery is revealed.

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A year before Rilke's death, he explained his idea of the interpenetration between life and death in the Eligies:
"It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately that its essence can rise again, "invisibly," inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible. The Eligies show us this work, the work of the continual conversion of the beloved visible and tangible world into the invisible vibrations and agitation of our own nature..."
 
~excerpt from The Demon and The Angel by Edward Hirsch

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"But because truly being here is so much; because everything
here
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange
way
keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.
Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing"
Rainer Maria Rilke
"The Ninth Elegy", lines 11-17

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coming into Existence

Often another smaller painting or two pops up as I paint the larger piece, this one is lying on the floor beside me as I splash and reverberate from the horizontal surface to the larger vertical surface on the easel. Informative and necessary for me to interplay between the two as I work, a dialogue is created between the works in progress and myself, a triangle of energy sets itself up in the studio. I am in uncharted terrain at the moment, treading water and just keeping afloat as I try new ways of being within and without. Colors and edges speak in different tones and sounds as they bump up against each other, revealing new ways of singing and dancing together.
painting in progress / 24" x 30" / acrylic & mixed media
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painting in progress / 54" x 72" / acrylic and mixed media
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Slashing and Burning and Hearing the Crying Within

Painting in Progress / acryic & mixed media / 54" x 72"

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Yesterday I avoided returning to the studio for a million reasons, I didn't WANT to paint, I didn't want to face the painting. I knew what was coming was going to be uncomfortable and visceral and I chose to avoid it for as long as possible. In the end I had to return another painting to the studio and caught a quick glimpse of what was on the easel, I barely took my coat off before picking up the brushes and slashing and pounding the painting. I had so much anger and pain welling up inside...people hurting other people, thoughtless insults, careless abuse of the earth, humanity against humanity, why? I try and stay focused, be proactive and engaged, live with the unresolved but there are times when the indifference and mean spiritedness of humanity just crushes my spirit. I feel inadequate and frustrated so all there is left to do is paint! And paint i did! With a ferocity and intensity that frightened even myself as I smashed the board with paint (fortunately it is panel board and not canvas). Today, I returned with less reluctance to the studio and the energy, although subdued to begin with, started to roar again as I started to paint. On returning home today an excerpt from artist, Judith Reeve's excellent blog, 'Attentive Equations' caught my eye, "Recognizing the Duende in One's Own Work":
"One needs to put oneself on a threshold of risk where the immediate engagement with the image unfolds in unknown and unexpected ways. It is difficult to put oneself on this level because there is a prevailing uneasiness, a feeling of inadequacy. One feels out of one’s element and all appears at risk, that this image will take more ability and inventiveness than one is capable of. Lorca states,”duende loves the edge, the wound, and draws close to places where forms fuse in a yearning beyond visible expression.” But only in this position can one truly wrestle with one’s own “daimon” and be open to a revelatory correspondence that is not premeditated and therefore reveals itself in the “living” moment."
This is a frightening place to paint from but also intensely physical and as such, serves as a release for some powerful emotions that are surging through at the moment, a storm of energy seeking an outlet. The journey continues.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Mind that Thinks Shapes

"Space is an open hand, a mind that thinks shapes, not ideas, shapes that breathe, walk, speak, transform and silently evaporate." Octavio Paz

I took these words to the studio today and let them float around inside the room with me. I am full of ideas, another idea is always blooming up from somewhere, one idea leads to another idea. I sometimes have so many ideas that I become paralyzed by the ideas and can't even pick up a paintbrush cause I am lost in my head of ideas. I think of the painter Agnes Martin who says she's careful not to have ideas because they are inaccurate. I was also thinking about the painter Jake Berthot talking about "intuitive geometry" and the "method" of investigating a painting:  At a certain point the painting takes over. It is for this reason that I am posting these very first marks as I blunder my way into a painting with my "clever ideas" and suddenly the painting takes charge and I am noticing and feeling "the volume of the space and light". I am very enamoured with this particular place in the woods, it is deep and mossy and dripping with mystery. The place expresses it's incredibly complex and intricate web of life through a riot of colors and textures that wind around each other into a seemingly chaotic  embrace. I work from photos, I make sketches, I lay down the bare bones and then the memories begin to fill in the smells, sounds, quality of light, density of air and so on. I am back inside the moss becoming squishy and moist within a symphony of greens. Ideas evaporate and light, air, shapes and texture replace the thoughts. I move to these shapes as I move to music and release their sounds onto the canvas...it is an incredible experience! One I will never cease to be completely in awe of, as I become a servant to the painting.

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