It’s the Holiday Season. Days go by and I’m not actively working on a painting that waits for my attention. Instead, I go shopping for butter and sugar for the impending cookie marathon. For years, I have sent off fruitcake and gingerbread men and decorated lemon sugar cookies. (yeah, I actually make damned good fruitcake!) and the baking must begin!
I have also spent hours checking the names of art consultants/designers on a mailing list I bought last year…. and weeded out about 2/3 who were not really worth my time to contact (really a small frame shop, out of business, etc..) also attended a seminar about e-mail marketing. Which to my mind has little to do with being an artist, but seems like it has become a necessary evil to be “successful.” I do know that I have to reach a wider audience than I now have.
And saw a play about a blind thief who constructed his reality by “translating” all the objects and distances in a room of the apartment he was planning to rob. Through the course of several visits to the same apartment, he encounters the owner, a woman who needs to dull her life with alcohol. She begins to romanticize the qualities that the blind thief seems to embody. She believes he will take her away in some sense from what she cannot truly confront in her own life. And by the end, she realizes she has been totally blind to the needs of her terminally ill husband, and her step daughter.
Often, when I work on a larger painting, process holds sway…. trying to gradually see what the painting will become – not knowing before I start. Not presuming what a final state should be. Like trying to see in the dark.
This is why I must have shifted my attention away from painting the real tangible world, to a world that I must totally “translate” if you will.
There is more challenge, and more necessity to adapt to the fictional world, as it is gradually revealed. Way slower to turn out paintings this way. In fact, lately, a lot of them seem to start out very dense with content and then gradually get pared away to some sort of essence. It sometimes pains me to think about all the parts I actually cover up or obscure as this continues.
Bill Moyers was having a conversation with Jane Goodall, and I was struck again by how calm and eloquent she seemed. When looking for more information about her, I discovered she and her sister both have some neurological condition that results in an inability to recognize faces!
So then, I wondered if she was somehow very well suited to spend years in the jungle, around very few people, making and recording her observations about bits and pieces of behavior and interactions. What would it feel like to be walking towards someone and not really be able to read their face? When she was sitting across from Bill Moyers, what was she seeing? We’ll never know what the world looks like through someone else’s eyes, only our own.