When Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Wait, I hear you say, we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. True enough, we haven’t, but Spring is on my mind for a happy reason.
I’ve been offered a solo show in San Diego that will go up at the end of March and run for three months – April, May and June. The gallery is one in our Liberty Station arts venue, a popular and busy place in the heart of the city, and I am more than delighted to have been offered this opportunity.
Spring is not that far away when it comes to generating enough pieces to fill not one, but four walls!
Yes, I have a lot of pieces already finished, but mounting a solo show means putting the very best of my work together in a coherent and cohesive manner. As I’ve said before – rich and complex, not complicated and confusing.
Since color is my animal, I know that much of what I put together will be connected by color. But not only color. Even as I think about new work, I’ve begun it, but being an “organic” painter just as I am an organic writer means that I have no clear, pre-determined plan for any piece. (See below.)
I have a general idea, but I let the paint take me where it wants to go.
Architect Louis Kahn, who designed the Salk Institute building in San Diego, was asked how he came up with his beautiful designs. His answer was that he asked the bricks what they wanted to be.
I ask the paint.
To those who want more structure in their lives (and their work), who want to know exactly where they’re headed on any journey, an answer like that can be disturbing. Possibly even irresponsible.
“What do you mean, you don’t know what you’re going to paint when you start?” (Or write. Or visit.)
What we mean is that we’ll engage the media – words, paint, the wheels beneath us – and journey together. We’ll sing and dance and explore. We’ll take some risks and laugh at ourselves when things go wrong, because we know there’s no “wrong” when it comes to the creative life. There are only ideas that don’t work.
One of the best things about the creative life is that we get endless “do-overs”…and every one of those – every new layer of paint or different word – gets us closer to who we are as artists or writers or dancers or inventors or musicians or cooks or any other creative thing we want to be.
Because each try, whether it succeeds or not, becomes part of our history, and we are richer for it.
Those who keep learning and experimenting and refining their creative work will be like Titian. As Robert Henri has it in his The Art Spirit:
I believe that keeping one’s faculties in full exercise is the secret of good health and longevity. It made Titian a young man at nearly a hundred.”
We could probably say the same of Grandma Moses, too, but Henri’s book was written long before Grandma Moses came on the scene.
Here’s a recent example of my own experimenting and refining. On the left is a painting I posted more than a month ago. First draft, as it were. And on the right is the recently finished piece.
I asked the paint what it wanted to be, and I got an answer.