Weeding out

well, it’s that time of year, when the garden and the studio seem to be both clamoring for my attention.

iris at the beginning of June

We have large plot that runs along the driveway, (which has gotten smaller over time) and for years, it was the main source of summer veggies, strawberries and flowers. Now, however, there are two trees at the east and west of it that have probably grown at least 15 more feet in height.
One is a cottonwood in the neighbor’s back yard that towers over most trees on our end of the block. Suffice it to say, that when I track the sun now, this same plot maybe gets about 3 hours of full sun max in a day…… so not the best location for tomatoes, and other yummy things. So, there are pockets in other flower beds that hold my Roma plants, and to make up the difference, we now subscribe to a local organic CSA- Grant Farms- which supplies us with copious greens and other tasty veg.

My enthusiasm for spending hours weeding has waned over the years too. But it must be done- preferably after a good rain.
While weeding and harvesting in the yard takes up some time, I’ve also been weeding out other items in the house, and also think of this as a way to describe the process when I am working on a painting! (more on that later)
Downsizing has become a mild obsession with me- after seeing a few episodes of “Hoarders”, working with some hospice clients who have spent years stocking up on stuff, and seeing the stacks of papers in files in my mom’s house. It all makes me nervous about getting my possessions / art related stuff / kid stuff / stuff stuff, down to a leaner level.

Some of the bulkier items have gone by way of Craigslist- four wood crates that I built to ship paintings years ago. A remnant of the days when I was eager to ship out entire shows.
Weeding out old dried up playdough, I realized I’ve been hanging on to a lot of my daughter’s old classic toys- the Playschool Farm, (love the door that moos when you open it!), and other goodies- yikes a whole box of Barbies and assorted fashion accessories! Everywhere I turn, it seems, there is something that I was “saving” for some future time when- ??Who? would be around and want to use it?? uhh, not any time soon.
It takes a shift of mind to realize when you are hanging on to things, friends, fantasies, ideas, whatever- long past the boundaries of common sense or usefulness.

The same holds true for painting.
I’ve already been at the point many times when it doesn’t phase me a bit to ditch or destroy old work. Not cuz it’s bad even, just because it doesn’t move me forward… or feel like something I want to keep so i have examples of work I truly loved.
This same eliminating/weeding out now occurs when I paint.
I find myself starting a piece with way more density and information, and over time, carving away at it/ painting out things that might be quite nice, but aren’t really necessary.
Looking for only the right leaf, branch, space of air. I sense that I am having a change of aesthetic , calling out from the wall, and that’s why I paint – to see where it leads me next.

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About nerskine

I've been a painter for about 30 years. I also draw and make monotypes, linocuts and other prints. I like tangled stuff.
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