Today I looked through a stack of paintings for the one that I need to deliver to someone.
I looked through all of them, and picked out several that seemed interesting to me, or that seemed like they wanted to tell me something. It helps that time has passed since I painted them, or even looked at them, because all expectation has long since vanished, and I can see them for what they are rather than what I am trying to make them into.
I liked the brushstrokes in this one. As I spent more time with it, it reminded me of a picture I made 22 years ago. I photoshopped myself into a white cooler with a pale turquoise glow for one of the early episodes of Flash Meridian. And it made me think of Nebula X in her coffin like box in episode four. Other scenarios come to mind when I look at this. I see tomb robbers. I see Darth Vader in the Death Star. I see cleaning supplies. I see a portal or box.
These brushstrokes and marks are playful. They tell you different things, but they never lie to you.
People ask me how I discovered my creative niche. The truth is, I don’t remember discovering it, and am not sure I have. I just did what I did, and doubted myself all along the way. But I found comfort and joy in it, so I kept going from one day to the next. That path has led me to where I am now, but this is not a destination. It’s just the next day. I guess it will be a destination on the last day I do this.
People are always telling me what I can’t do. If I want to try something, I just do it. I sometimes surprise people. I often surprise myself. There is no risk in making creative attempts, even if they don’t work out like I had envisioned. Every experience teaches me something. Some are happy accidents that feel at first like derailment. Later on, I realize switching tracks can redefine my expression.
It doesn’t have to be a jarring mishap. I find new directions through play.
If I like something, or if I am intrigued, I go a little deeper and develop that story. It doesn’t happen overnight. What comes out may have been steeping a long time.
No matter how much galleries might want new paintings from me, it’s not something I can force. I can stand in front of the easel with a paintbrush in my hand, but I can not, by sheer force of will, conjure a successful painting. At other times, the compositions just flow out without that effort.
When I am relaxed, and not thinking about the end product, I can get on the path of brushstrokes that wriggle out my hand and through the brush to the canvas. Like when you catch a fish, and then observe it dangling from the line or wriggling in the bottom of the boat.
There are stories for me to discover in my own work.
When the paintings don’t bite, I don’t need to worry. I can create in another medium, or I can just go and do something else for a while. Life outside of my studio is vital to working in it.
Lately, my grandson has been painting.
He makes abstract compositions, and I love his casual confidence. He chatters away and sings while he paints.
So what if he is only five years old. He has hands to hold a paintbrush, dexterity to apply the paint, and his own unique eye.
I’d like to think that seeing my own paintings throughout his life has influenced him. When he was a newborn, he used to stare at my art on the wall, as his mother did when she was a baby.
Maybe my work has influenced him in some way, but there is always something I can learn from him, too. His focused nonchalance, and joyous approach inspire me.