Many years ago, I found my way to the studio at night on a fairly regular basis. I guess it was mostly when I was painting houses during the day, and I needed the night time to keep the studio work progressing. That habit slowed to a slow crawl over the last five years or so, and I usually don’t miss it… but, when I do, it’s a fierce longing. There is a magical comfort in the night studio energy, and it’s a unique ambiance. It’s kinda like sitting by the ocean at night… a certain sort of noisy quiet, powerfully loaded with orchestral intensity. This summer seems primed to welcome back the habit of working in the studio at night
Today was the last day of school for my daughters, and I am filled with pride for their “success” in another year of middle school. Those years can be messy as hell, but the girls seemed to gracefully make their way through all social and academic jungles. Now, we navigate summer schedules, where idleness can make the mess… I am hoping to choreograph our own blend of relaxation and exploration.
Yesterday, I cut the new panels for thirty new paintings, and today I sanded and gessoed them. There’s a lovely mindlessness about this part of the process (hand in hand with mindfulness). I’m more excited about making these (Symbol Signs/Portal Paintings/Insert Other Working Title Here) than I would have imagined three months ago. I was then keen to believe that the Work I need to be fully invested in was the black and white work; there was confidence in this belief. But, as Emerson said,
“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”
These 11″x9″ mixed media paintings are little voyages, and I have no idea where they are going. They are quite the opposite of the big Work. Considering this project gets me excited again about painting, as I had found myself lacking energy for the other… Not that I wasn’t inspired to do it, I just repeatedly found myself not really working on those paintings. Maybe, I wasn’t lacking energy for it, I was simply getting beat by Resistance. I go with the flow, as inflexible as I may sometimes be… a living, breathing contradiction.
Sisyphus – 24″x24″ – 2016
“The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
I enjoyed my dabbling in existentialism. The early 90’s were ripe for this cause, and I still hold dear plenty of that same Spirit. It is compartmentalized in its own container, and I take it out for play on occasion. I’m opening lots of random portals lately, visiting overgrown playgrounds and having fun.
The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.
Inauguration Day IX (Infinity) is is meant to express some version of this law. The image breaks down in to shapes of energy, light forms, created once, changed constantly. Art and the End of Suffering seeks to shine light on the unity of that one first energy that is Everything.
Today, I gave myself the marching orders to continue into battle against the paintings that were fighting for their lives. I have a couple of requests for artworks, and I am needing to up the inventory to supply those in need. So, some lesser creations from the last year or two have been in front of the firing line for several days, and today, they met their end (one has survived so far).
It’s a bittersweet experience to lay waste to something that I have created. There is sadness at the loss, at the unrealized potential, the neglect/rejection… Then, there is renewed hope that the canvas can be reborn in greater form, and carry on to give joy to someone, somewhere. We’ll have to wait to see how it goes. There were some young paintings eradicated today, but sometimes that’s simply necessary. They served a great purpose in their short lives, and for that, they are honored. Now, I move on, and the joy of creation finds momentum speeding toward new deadlines.
I painted interiors of houses for twelve years or so. I have helped my brother build a couple of houses. My understanding of the extreme availability of misfortune in house projects is keen. That being said, I haven’t until now put myself in such harm’s way. My wife and I have been discussing the idea of finishing out our one car garage for about five years. Sketches of the design have fluttered around the house from time to time, and it always seemed relatively straight forward. That’s not really a thing in Renovationland.
First, at this juncture in Nashville, just getting a contractor that you trust to give you a price that makes sense is a holy miracle. We survived fits and starts, and finally pulled the trigger on someone who we were just going to have come in and help frame it. I had basically decided to do the job myself to omit the relational land mines of working with others. Then, the potential framer wanted to take the job on as contractor, and we were willing to get an estimate and consider again this loaded option. We are well on our way in the project, and I am still glad that we hired him as contractor, but it has certainly proven par for the Renovation course. There have been weird issues all along the way… with every step, basically. Today, the drywallers came back for day two, after a strange first day, and we have all boards hung and mudded with a first coat. But, when the first of the three girls in the house went to take a shower, there was no hot water. Upon quick inspection, the pilot light on our water heater had somehow been extinguished… not sure how. Re-lighting it was easy, but there was an unexpected inconvenience.
There have been issues with the electrical, when I arrived home to all the kitchen appliances being without power. There were issues with the plumbing, when a miscommunication led to the lines being run on the outside of the framing. The framing was quick and easy… five guys took two hours to complete it. We are moving closer by the task, and regardless of the speed bumps, we are grateful to the contractor and the workers. Our extra little two hundred square feet of mud room and laundry room (and big desk/makeshift office) is going to be dreamy.
The open wall that is the back of the laundry cabinets is slated to be an “easel,” and I will install lighting to help make it space where I can work on a painting at home. I have not tried to have a home “studio” for a very long time, and I hope that this will work. As I transition into the next career (still a bit of a secret), I will need to utilize night time painting to keep pushing the artwork forward. I haven’t a good clue what this is really going to look like. I’m excited.
By the end of the five days that Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House served fresh strawberry pie, they had sold 11,310 slices. That’s 1885 pies. The restaurant is open from eleven to eight o’clock, so, they were serving 4.18 pieces of pie per minute for nine hours a day, for five day in a row. It’s an insane pace for everyone involved. As of tonight, I have made six slices at home… and, I have one more crust for sometime in the next week or two. Maybe, next year, I’ll have a way to start my own version of strawberry pie week, as it really is a special dessert.
Art and the End of Suffering entails an intimate relationship with non-attachment. The mind of a painter (in my experience), cycles through ideas of paintings on a continual basis. There is a solving of issues of current work, brushstrokes, tones, textures, etc… there is a projection of potential series, and other series, and more other series. There is an enormous catalog of paintings never painted, ideas that may have become sketches, and some that faded into the ether as pure thought energy. No longer does the anxiety of this arena keep me arrested. I have learned to defend myself over the last twenty-five years.
On the way to work this morning, I was reminded of a series that made it to the sketch phase, but wilted before full bloom. There are billboards that arise sometimes when one advertisement has come down, and the new one has not yet been applied. I imagine this happens less and less these days with the technology of the medium, but I saw one this morning. It is like some completely abstract version of Guernica… vestiges strewn across a landscape, strips of inhumanity. I find these more beautiful than eighty percent of contemporary paintings that are touted as “is the conversation,” within the art world. There is an aesthetic that maybe started around the “new casualists” (2011) that is “ugly” on purpose… discordant palette and composition, trying so hard to look like the artist didn’t try. Anyways, enough about all that bs… I loved seeing that billboard this morning. I imagine that space will be selling something tomorrow.
I gave a presentation in “Studio B” at the Frist Museum tonight… the prep caused a little bit of anxiety. What it boiled down to was that I found myself in a place that was quite uninterested in talking about art or myself, and that was exactly what I was supposed to go do (it seemed). There was going to need to be some transparency and some sleight of hand. Art and the End of Suffering was the loose title for this talk, and I sought to cut to the core of my deepest motives behind my work. Maybe, I wasn’t a smooth a talker as I would have liked to have been, but the audience was so small that it definitely won’t ruin my chances at becoming a public speaker. I verbally jumped around like a nervous neurotic with ADD… at least, that’s how it felt. Will I practice this sort of talk so that next time (if that happens), I will have a cleaner delivery? I doubt it. I have thought about this series, and my work, for a very long time, and condensing all the hot points into a linear message is daunting. The odds of me saying “yes” to another art talk are slim… I guess if there is a moderator always prompting, that’s much easier. Whatever.
I cleared several deadlines today that have been extra weight on me, and I’m excited to slide into the weekend with lighter chi. My oldest daughter graduates from eighth grade this weekend, and that stops me in my tracks. Life if fascinating, and the dreams elevate it even further beyond my comprehension…
I had asked my mom where her James Beard medal was, as I had not seen it out on display. Of course, she only received it last week, so she hasn’t had much time to get it “placed” in the restaurant. During my lunch today, I asked her again, and with the help of a manager, it was located, handed to me, and was quickly accompanied by my lunch slice of strawberry pie. I don’t often take pictures of food, but the moment was ripe for a quick pic… and, it happened to turn out as a photographically exceptional little image. Even the kelly green apron strings that appeared in the top right corner as I prepared to take the photo… and, the straw passing through the water glass. Anyways, it was a magic moment of gratitude. Life is often hard, and unimaginable little moments like this must be savored for all they are worth, and the photo documentation will serve as a thousand word story.