Really, I’ve been so sluttish in my blogging,  I don’t know how you can stand it.  I’d be quite disgusted with me if I were you.

Things have been a-swirlin’ in my head;  swirling and swirling, around and around, never slowing enough to gel.   Not swirling in a random way, but in a swept-up, powerfully rushing, churning, spring-melt river kind of way.

I’ve been painting again.

His river runs through me. 43 x 52 inches. Acrylic on canvas

When I decided to switch mediums –to make my painting amateur and my metal professional– I hoped that one of the consequences of this decision would be that I’d become a better painter.  Painting is costly for me; it takes a lot out of me because I care so much.  Add to that the pressure of necessary professional or academic success in painting, and it was not a tenable way of life.  I remember one of my painting professors, Michael Simpson, telling my class, “I need you all to dig deeper.  Except Katie.  Katie, don’t dig so deep.”  I’ve always been an advocate of ripping myself to shreds if that’s what it takes to do a job right.

In taking the pressure off of my painting by switching to metals in order to make a living,  I hoped to reduce the pressure on my painting and make it less costly and more of a joy.  And in that  joy I hoped to paint better.  But building a business takes everything, and I’ve been happy to rip myself to shreds to do that job right.  There hasn’t been energy to paint.  I haven’t thought in painting,  I haven’t dreamed painting; where would I find the extra time and energy?

And then, suddenly, I did.  As running a business becomes more familiar to me,  the newly freed-up brain power has spontaneously returned to painting.   Not painting for the sake of an assignment or a degree, not painting for the sake of furthering a career in painting, but painting for the sake of needing to purge my mind of its visual thoughts.  Visual metaphors, visual equations, visual understanding of the world.  People often say artists create to become immortal, and that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.  Artists create because they have a insanely strong compulsion to communicate in an aesthetic language.  To process, to understand through doing, to solve puzzles they didn’t realize their minds were struggling to complete.

I don’t know what I think of this piece, and it’s not at all what I thought I’d end up with.  There are components I’d like to keep and work with again (the lines, the concept), and components I’d like to lose (contrast, the darkness).


26 thoughts on “Painting

  1. Okay, I have tried to call you and let you know about my dream. So here I go… I had a wonderful dream that I was at your home and you let me paint in your studio. I had on bib overall shorts a tank shirt underneath and my hair was long enough to pull into a ponytail. I was barefoot and having the best time just creating something, that I never thought I could do, but it was so freeing and I felt so happy and alive as I was very rudely and freely painting on a piece of paper with no agenda and using lots of different colors it was great. Just doodling for the most part, but giving the doodles free rein and the colors I choose had no rhyme or reason, they just wanted to be on the paper. Weird huh?

  2. It is very beautiful. It looks peaceful when I look at it, but there is somthing else under the surface,like a strong current. I think that it speaks of time passing, and fate and choices, and the connectedness of each person to another. But what do I know? I’m the one who came up with the idea for jewel encrusted snails. It sounds like an appetizer.

    1. Dude, I love your snails, and we’re making them when you come down for spring break. But we will not eat the jewel-encrusted snails, as we would an appetizer, because they will be made of gold. Gold is not tasty.

  3. Dahhhling,

    Gorgeous, just gorgeous. I find myself drawn to the image over and over and keep wanting to see more, bravo. So, as an uneducated person seeing this painting, I have to say I really like it a lot and you shouldn’t change a thing. I have to keep looking because I know it wants to say something to me, but I can’t figure it out just yet. Maybe I am thinking I see grace (not my neice) but GRACE.

    1. Grace could totally be in there! I think there is grace in our connection to others; those moments when the perfection of that connection just flows through us and saturates us, and offers a glimpse of spiritual transcendence.

  4. Sluttish? How does one … Nevermind I don’t want to know.

    But the painting? Really like it. A lot.

    This won’t make sense to you, but it makes me reminisce about college.

    1. Ok. I’ve looked at your painting again. And I have to confess to blushing a bit.

      When I said that it reminded me of college, I meant that it reminded me of a drawing my art major girlfriend did that she tried to throw away. But I wouldn’t let her. I still have it. The colors are very different but the lines are similarly organic looking.

      But when I looked at this again, I feel like I’m invading your privacy and should avert my eyes. And I felt the need to clarify my previous post. Because I didn’t mean it THAT way.

      Was that what you were going for? It could just be that I’m a guy and that is where my brain always goes. In which case I’m even more embarrassed.

      1. Hmm..I’m assuming that you are saying this painting looks sexual to you, and so I’ve tried to look at it with new eyes and I can definitely see what you are saying!

        I’m reluctant to explain what I was thinking about in this piece, because then my voice might become more prominent than the painting’s; then my feelings about it might color your own. For art to really become art, the artist must give it over to the viewer, where the viewer and the work now create their own dialogue. It’s that dialogue that makes it art.

        But that you see something very intimate, that Andrea sees Grace, that Loll sees emotion…..those perceptions round out my own, and I realize that I was absolutely painting about them without ever thinking of those exact words. As an artist, it’s kind of thrilling to read those comments! I’ve gotten something through, and perhaps I’ve shown more than I even understood or intended.

    1. Thank you, Sam! I dropped my camera and broke it while I was setting up to shoot this, and so I shot it with a white view screen and was unable to change whatever settings were on the camera when it broke! I’m just glad I got images that looked anything like the painting!

      So don’t be jealous, because if you were me you’d have a broken camera =)

    1. After not painting in a while, I was really aware of how much this takes out of me, physically, to have my mind that intensely “on.”

      I’m pleased with it, now that I’ve stepped away for a few days and can view it without being too attached to it.

  5. I think the darkness and the contrast are part of what I find so interesting in this piece. It’s very evocative — it touches on rivers and oceans and deserts and plants and pathways and roots — but it’s those dark places that look like they provided the fertile ground for growth. Or maybe they are the shadowy areas that we encounter all along the path.

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