Light in Motion

When I started the painting of the cranes, woman, dogs and wind I realized that — in a way — I was about to paint the same thing I’d already painted, just a different version. That was tremendous pressure because the FIRST painting was very successful and my sketch for the new painting said everything I wanted to say. Should I keep going? Would this be a good painting, or would it just crumble into an expensive wasted effort because of unfair expectations? The painting would be far more complex, and I’m not the same painter I was when I painted the earlier version (me, Bear, nature). I painted the underpainting and put it away. “You have to do something else first,” I said to Martha the Painter, “then maybe come back and paint this. You’ve got some stuff cluttering your head about painting right now. Just close the door for a while.”

I wanted to paint, but felt a wall between me and painting.

When I pulled out the “failed painting” of the storm cloud and saw it wasn’t a failed painting I thought, “OK, there’s somewhere new to go right now.” I knew what it was, and I knew it would be a huge challenge, not just in getting the paint on the canvas but in escaping the little itchy fingers in my mind and the voices telling me how things should be.

Maybe it’s not true of everyone (I believe it is), but it seems that humans don’t like to fail. It’s why trying something new is so very difficult. Even after more than half my life encouraging young people not to fear failure (unless it’s a life or death thing), I have to challenge myself not to fear. It’s not like there are no consequences to failing a painting but they are minimal. The worst thing that happens is you throw it in the trash or paint over it. A far worse danger — solely in my opinion regarding myself — is becoming derivative and painting one thing over and over forever because I’m good at it, have figured out how to “get it right,” and the whole thing has become a method that yields the same success.

I wanted to let go.

One great boon of never having had to make my living doing this is that I’m free. I know that my stuff will end up in a thrift store, so? Not long ago, in the nostalgia store in Del Norte, the owner said, pointing to a bad painting of Chimney Rock, “Buy that painting and paint over it.” I might have if I’d liked the frame. People will do that, and, with the painting I’m struggling toward now, they’re going to get a really expensive, beautiful surface. ❤ Yep. I decided to experiment on the most beautiful painting surface I’ve ever owned. I thought two things as I pulled it out of my materials. First, it’s slippery compared to the panels on which I usually paint; it’s linen canvas primed with oil based primer. Second, an experiment, a new direction, deserves to be honored; and what I’m painting? A new element (for me) anchored by only ONE small piece of the familiar world. This element is slick and constantly moving. It fit the surface I’d chosen on which to paint it.

It’s fun to paint toward a new destination. The three times I’ve approached this canvas I have had a blast. In my book, that’s success.

In Bean news, the outside beans — Tu Fu, Wu Song, Li Bai, Li Ho, Lao She and Pearl Buck are all doing well. I’ve covered them for the past two nights, easy since they are only a couple inches high. The inside beans — as yet unnamed — are four inches tall and very happy, too. I’m starting to think they all have a clock that says, “No matter HOW she plants you, come up at the end of the second week in May.”

13 thoughts on “Light in Motion

  1. I’m loving it! The bold contrast between the orange on the top of the escarpment (reflected in the sky) contrasted with the blue of the water below and fading into the blue of the wall draws me in. I can see where I’d sit, looking out, and what I would miss from that vantage point.

  2. I think we are programmed to fear failure. I suppose in the evolution of things it could have meant life or death. Yet, I truly believe it is through our failings that we learn and grow, whether that be painting or just about anything else. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress in your painting!

  3. We all have interior clocks – we just don’t have the owner’s manual to wind them or set the time (and that includes beans)! I think this painting will be gorgeous !!

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