Saturday, September 8, 2007

art for art's sake



I like to paint or perhaps I should describe it as more an urge to see something that appeared in my imagination made manifest. I've had some success in resisting this urge in recent years but every so often I'll wander over to my work table and find a piece of unmarked, unstained, unsullied watercolor paper and try not to stare at that frightening blankness for too long. It's a challenge, and as often as not I'll go back to my book (whose blank white pages somebody else struggled over), or will call a friend, or write a letter, or have a nap - anything not to be faced with actually attempting to draw an image whose form has now slunk from the mind's eye leaving one tabula rasa to stare at another. So if I don't run off to make myself a cup of tea or see what the new headlines are on one of my favorite web pages, I may just sit down with a pencil and mark up the paper. It's important to draw anything at that point - lines, crosshatches, hints of faces, words even.. but all destined to be erased so I can hope to see in the shadows left, what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

This particular example was done some years ago and was an attempt to represent a young woman dreaming herself over and over, perhaps to wake up to something real about herself. It may or may not have been successful in that regard but I liked it enough not to throw it away. The colors were nice. Drawing drives me crazy but I really do like colors and sloshing paint around haphazardly just seems wasteful. I was raised to be neat and it's stayed with me.

All this brings to mind some thoughts about impermanence. When we look in the mirror every day, unless we've had an accident or discovered a huge pimple, we look the same. Yet it can't be denied that if we meet an old friend after a long abscence they look different and we can tell from their brief (though, hopefully, quickly hidden) shock that so do we. As we age every cell in our bodies changes and is replaced so how can we think we're the same? We're not - but if you stop to wonder where the bits and pieces of us went.. well, the only logical answer is they went back to the world. Maybe once what was a part of me is now a piece of you and vice versa. I don't mind, do you?

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