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Letting go

This is social media experiment in making art.  As I worked through the process of this painting I wondered whether I could actually describe that process in a series of photos, and tell the story of the piece as it becomes itself.   Might be neato.  I’ve started this with my cover photos on facebook, but there are lots of them to come, and some FB folks who might get overloaded….

So here goes.  It was supposed to be a clamp.  One in a series of paintings about legacy and inheritance that were going to take me into the next decade.  With this painting, that idea got stopped in it’s tracks – I realized I was finished the series after only two:  Shovel and Axe.  If you really want to know why, ask me in person, but the why isn’t the point really.  The idea was over.  Suddenly.

Canvas is 4'x4' square.  This is a detail of the first yellow wash over white houspaint resist.
Canvas is 4’x4′ square. This is a detail of the first yellow wash over white house paint resist.

Then I drew the clamp on the canvas and stared at it.  It was a good drawing, but No.  Erased the clamp.  Stared some more.

Then in art class I needed to demonstrate the joys of washes over acrylic gel, which preserves the integrity of the colour and adds depth to the ground.  Washed a good red over the whole thing, let it drip…. Then in the next art class I needed  to show some things about composition and drawing and courage, so I picked the nearest object to draw and did this:

vine  charcoal for the drawing, which is what I used to draw the Clamp.  It rubs off.  In this photo I've superimposed a photo of the actual snaffle bit over the drawing to check my lines...
vine charcoal for the drawing, which is what I used to draw the Clamp. It rubs off. In this photo I’ve superimposed a photo of the actual snaffle bit over the drawing to check my lines…

I was going to keep this as a demo canvas for art class, but the painting was talking too much – like a river.  Can’t stop a river, so…

My full attention.  This is when I stopped answering my phone, five days ago....
My full attention. This is when I stopped answering my phone, five days ago….

What is it, what is it.  It’s a D-ring snaffle bit that I used on my pony when I was a tweener.  The bit is not connected to a bridle.  It’s not hanging in a barn, or waiting to be used.  It’s here because I remember Pippin and I like the shape.

The painting is about being unbridled.  And it’s about horse – wild horse, old horse, powerful horse, running horse, free.  Bronze age white horse of Uffington:

And the river of painting chatter gets deeper...
And the river of painting chatter gets deeper…

Now it’s just watching, layering, washing, dripping, listening, writing, and recording music while the paint is drying. Run up and down the stairs for energy.  Write some more.  Paint.  Don’t ever stop.

Green wash for the Uffington hills...
Green wash for the Uffington hills…
white wash to pull it together.  I love this part...
white wash to pull it together. I love this part…
Pull the bit back in (conte).  Now there's interesting spatial stuff happening....
Pull the bit back in (conte). Now there’s interesting spatial stuff happening….

I’m not done yet, so I can’t take you to the end.  I’ll keep shooting while I watch the paint dry, and will update here to tie it all up.

In the meantime I need to say this:  that if you let it, if you actually surrender your will and just let the river flow, art can take you through all the blocked, backward, toxic stuff of your life and wash it all off.  It’s ALWAYS worth it to make something out of nothing but your mind, your heart, and what ever else is to hand.  If you have kids, tell them that, over and over again.  Tell them that there are no mistakes, ever.  Just change.

Trust change, and let go.

Yesterday when I ventured out for food and batteries I found myself in face-to-face conversation with people.  I think I was using words, and I think everything went ok because when I got home I had food and batteries as planned.  Oh and an indigo hyacinth.

To anyone I spoke with this week who felt that I wasn’t really there – you’re right, I wasn’t, despite my best efforts.  I was really in my studio of many rooms eating soul food.

Happy Sunday.

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trip theme

I’ve had early morning conversation with one of my rarely seen Incredibles, who is now off to work.  Two others flop in their beds – they will be vertical, and then verbal, soon.

but hang on – the snow is blowing from left to right through the alleyway behind my head.  Horozontal snow is normal in the wilds of greater Kemble where I live, but odd here in this city of 2.6 million.  A Toronto adventure lies ahead – in which folks will perhaps be shocked out of their daily sub-routines into something more…  accessible?  Present?

We are here, for a short time, to float – metaphorically – on a deep urban river in sea kayaks, letting the currents of humanity determine where we will go, and only occasionally choosing paddle-directed routes when compelled by curiosity.  I know of no better way to clear my mind of what has been, and then open it to possibility.  Maybe a long, deep sleep comes close.

The opossum who appeared at our house on New Year's Eve - on a walkabout from Virginia perhaps?  He didn't stick around in any case...
The young opossum who appeared at our Southern Georgian Bay house on New Year’s Eve – on a walkabout from Virginia?

In the next morning’s pause after the early Incredible has left for work I feel a need to name a sub-focus for these 40 hours away – ideas explored several times in conversation with both familiars and strangers.  Allow me to summarize these surprisingly intense discussions – with Enzo at the coffee shop who is working his way off the street, with J who is walking with himself in friendship, with F, M & D, who have their antennae out, with the Norwegian-born writer interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC radio who’s really not sure he should have taken the risks he has taken…  here goes:

The most difficult thing to do with our lives is to make a positive, functional plan that nourishes ourselves, first.  The plan needs to answer an internal passion, utilize natural skills & beloved tools, fan the embers of curiosity and feed back sustaining energy.  The idea and what it manifests should have a built-in capacity to serve a larger community  – i.e. – someone you have nothing to do with can look at, read or hear your work and say, ‘a-ha.  That’s me.’ (or “that’s my aunt.”  etc).  Or they can pick up what you have made and appreciate it’s design and function as part of their own plan…

Imagine the concept is a well-designed garden shed.  The plan becomes the framework.  The work that follows is ‘fleshing it out’ – making it functional, accessible, dry, light etc.

It’s so very easy to make everything else more important than this – even and perhaps especially care-giving, groceries, the internet & a trillion things that can be taken personally but are not that important.  It’s also very easy to believe that unless your work brings in income, it’s not valid.  This is just simply not true.  What is true is that if you find the concept, make the plan (custom-sized to fit what you can realistically accomplish) and then persistently apply the work, what you make will sustain you – more than possibly financially, definitely psychologically.

It will also make everyone else around you much happier.

framework for a concept
framework for a concept

Further to the Theme as discussed :

Once you reach that inner “I’ve Got it!” place,  Forward momentum comes naturally.  Priorities fall back into an order that makes sense, you will have abundant tolerance for all the silliness of your friends and family and the next task and the next will become crystal clear  (as in:  If I’m going to do this, then I’ll have to make a functional space for the doing part – done.  Then I will need a little money – done.  Then I will need this much time – done.  Then I will need a deadline – etc).

I believe everyone and every community on this planet should be engaged in some part of this process right now, for the sake of humanity and the ecosystem we are part of.

The alternative is depression, anger, rage and eventually despair.   Add guns and greed, and …  well.  This is what we’re in the process of healing, are we not?

Happy Monday, all.