Monday, November 7, 2011

big thoughts, little thoughts

So in trying to become evening-ly inspired to write about work, life, inner space, beauty - I find that the competing thoughts of big ideas: the why of my day - and the small things: what I managed to accomplish - are not compatible and keep me from getting started. I guess I was thinking that what and how I paint or accomplish an image would be more interesting than musing about a metaphysical quantum leap (or sidestep, as is often the case). However, it's the metaphysical that I want to share/investigate at the end of my day... thus the quandary.

A dear friend recently shared an inspirational talk with me which focused on "starting with WHY," ... and how always keeping that thought/question in the forefront will give greater meaning to every single thing we do. Soooo. WHY do I paint? here goes...

I can. - I've always been a natural at achieving a likeness/reality - I remember in 1st grade my teacher making a big deal about a paper cut-out project of our pet - in this case, our black lab Fury - and just using scissors I competently shaped his head, paws, body confirmation, the way his ears fell and his collar... I remember thinking I had really captured him, but was mortified by the fuss my teacher made about it and so wrecked it on purpose by making a cartoon out of it: I roughly drew in spikes on his collar and oversized dragon-like claws on his paws - before she could show it to my parents. In middle school I used to earn a quarter at lunch doing pencil portraits of my friends - or drawing horses for the many girls (of that age) that wanted my drawings of stallions rearing or mane blowing in the wind with big warm eyes peeking through, looking into your soul. Everyone is good at something... I can draw. 

It feeds me. I remember one summer day, I was probably 12, Mom told me to draw from what I saw outside (instead of making up more horse pictures) and when she could tell I didn't know how to start, she told me to just start with a small piece of something - like the half-moon window in the peak of the old barn and the broken chimney above it. It was the first serious drawing I did and I'll never forget how I felt looking at my results and the excitement of achieving three-dimensionality on a page. I still feel that excitement: I get a rush when I've captured space on a page; created depth, atmosphere; when I've managed to grasp what it really looked like, what it smelt like; when the figure looks natural and part of the world - it hits some pleasure center for me. Maybe this is bad, but the images that I know I've nailed... i.e. they came out actually looking like I imagined them when I started... I can keep looking at them over and over - because they draw me in every time I see them, pulling me back to that place, that moment I was trying to capture and share, and I can experience it anew.

I want to share the beauty. I guess I figure if I encompass so much beauty and space into such a small area, then people will have to take a closer look, and in doing so, will NOTICE it... will take that moment it takes to really see... to breathe it in and BE there. The earth is filled with amazing scenes everywhere I look, the way the light hits the hills, or shimmers on the water, or falls across that rooftop gable. I drive by the same places everyday but instead of becoming immune to the beauty, I get to re-see it each time. I truly believe that artists actually have more color receptors, or process color/detail/space differently than non-visual artists - because (and this type of event has been shared by all the visual artists I know) if you're driving somewhere with a non-artist, and you come up over a hill and you just have to stop the car to take some photos because the colors are breathtaking (or the farm, the trees, the light...), that non-artist person says, "Wha-a-at?" and can't see the big deal. And doesn't see it, even when you point it out. So if I can capture it on paper, and make it so small they have to dig for the other glasses and then they get their noses right up to it... I'm providing them the opportunity to leave themselves behind and be somewhere else - I'm pulling them through the looking glass. It's like I get to grab them by the shoulders, point them in the right direction and make them be still, just for a moment, to help them see... the world is so beautiful.

(more of "why" will be forthcoming...)

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