January 27, 2016: muting the rainbow

2016-01-27 12.54.51I was not sure the would be any painting happening today when I went to sleep last night — I only had time for a short painting session, and the day left me with foggy, ambivalent feelings about the painting: I did not know what to do with it, and whether I even want to see it again.

But there was a long waking period this night — I have them, occasionally, and I stopped thinking of this as of insomnia, because these are, almost invariably, very fruitful times, filled with insights and discoveries. This night, it felt like a barrier has fallen (or been broken through); the sensations of lightness and joy, as though I had been carrying a heavy load, and now it somehow disappeared.

I didn’t even think of the painting, but some clarity has emerged anyway — a way of gradually muting the colours of the rainbow, without fully losing its “rainbow-iness”. The rainbow is just an underpainting, it turned out; if there is a rainbow out there, then the sonnet obscures it (rather than reveals it).

Since it was a short painting session, this new vision hasn’t quite been implemented yet, just started. But there was also an emergence of a new structure — revealed just by scratching away bits and pieces of paint. The original contrast between space and flatness, colour and greyness has softened into some sort of unification. However humbled and degraded the poet, it is still he — not someone else — who generates the space he has fallen from, the space he has — temporarily at least — lost. The new structure is barely there, but I see something now — I have a hope for this painting. There is a sense of breaking through yet another false duality, the duality of two “selves”.

There are lots of theories, and all of them from good authorities too — about how much you’ve got to see of the future painting before you can actually start painting it: anywhere from nothing to everything. As for me, I love this moment of clarification inside the process, when the painting is not just an imperfect implementation of a vision, but a rightful participant, with its own contribution to the result.

As I edit these public “Studio Journal” entries (usually the day after they were written), I leave out whole chunks of my private journal entries. And I am not sure this is quite justified, since these other processes going on in my life — especially in my inner life — undoubtedly “feed into” the painting process. It compromises the intended rawness of the data, but I have not quite found the way to talk openly about thoughts and processes that touch, in one sense or another, other people; overlap and intersect with their own life stories. This is the current unresolved question…