The last couple of weeks I have been delving back into art. It seems that I write and paint in spurts – three or four weeks of writing, then a month of art. One of the big disadvantages to this approach is the ramp-up time needed to get back into some kind of flow. It can take several days before I allow the brush to paint or the keys to write. It requires a setting aside of the desire for a specific outcome, and a willingness to withhold judgment.
Who am I to say this piece is good or bad? I never have a good perspective on the quality of what is produced. In fact, I usually do not ‘like’ any pictures I may be working on and it only after I have hung them on the wall for a day or two that any beauty shines through. It is almost as if the painting continues to evolve and change without my interference (or is it because of it?)– sort of like the shoemaker and the elves. I wake up in the morning and the work is done.
When I paint I take one of two approaches – I may be doing a study of someone else’s work and trying to interpret some aspect of it; or I approach the blank page with nothing in my mind as an exercise (I am tempted to say) of meditation. But it is not meditation in the usual sense for I do not have any picture or image in mind, nor do I usually have a desired outcome – say a picture of a flower. The mind space is diffused and unfocused.
Instead, I just play with the ink and water with the beginner’s mind – for I really know nothing about art. I have never taken any lessons, just read a bunch of how-to books for technique. But I bring to this process a great admiration for this type of communication with these particular tools.
Since I have no idea or image in mind, there is no way that I can make a mistake. This is very attractive to my ego and the means I use to subvert it. So I come to the drawing board like child playing in the mud and relax into the moment. When I find myself slipping into judgment or into analytical thinking I recognize that it is time to stop.
Anyway, after several years of painting solely with ink, I have begun to explore the voice of water colors. Here are some of the latest explorations into an abstract country.