How do you name a painting? I've been finding something in the painting that suggested a name. This one was first Landslide (I'm not sure why), then it changed my mind. Of course, at some point I thought the red shape in the middle looked like a heart, and during the workshop someone saw a chicken in it. (Heehee.)
Anyway, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I kind of erupted in abstracts at the end of last week's workshop. This was the third of the three that I felt worked. Now, I took ten canvases this size and painted nine of them, but I'm not sure I'll blog the others as they currently are. One reads as totally a class assignment. Another one seems trite to me. Of course, the nice thing about abstracts (at least, as I'm executing them) is that, the richer the underpainting, the more it contributes to the final painting.
I don't know what happens with others during intense painting periods, but one side effect for me is that my mind races and I don't sleep well. I stay up late and wake up early. And that brings up the next topic. Mental chatter.
Before Bob Burridge, the workshop teacher, starts a day of painting, he journals his automatic thoughts in his sketchbook. He just scribbles down whatever is in his mind, and might not bother to separate the words or add punctuation. (This might be something from Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones.) He says this allows the thoughts to fade (I guess they feel acknowledged), and leaves him focused on painting. So, during the week of the workshop, there was one early, early morning when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I tried the journaling technique, and it worked. Not instantly, mind you. But I was able to go back to sleep eventually.
OK, back to this painting. Now, I love to experiment. And there are books out there that suggest experimenting with techniques like scrunching up plastic wrap or waxed paper and placing it in a pool of paint and removing it when it dries. Or you can buy tools at the hardware store -- like grout spreaders -- and use them to make parallel lines. Or you can add sand to the paint. And so on. I love these things, but I'm noticing that if that's all I do when I create a painting, then the painting lacks heart. But if it's a springboard, then it works.
The effect I used in this painting was blue painter's tape. The teacher said he normally didn't like it when he saw it in paintings, but he thought it worked with the palette. Of course, what he said also seemed like a gentle warning that it's been done. After all, at the beginning of the workshop he also said that everything has been done by someone, so get over it. The important thing is that you do what's right for you. This gorgeous quote speaks to this:
There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others. If I add something to my time, then that is my prize.
- Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille