On pure being (January 9-10, 2016; sonnet 81)

I haven’t painted this weekend, but there was quite a lot of stuff worth noting in my newly envisioned Studio Journal.

These were two days of pure being. Meditations, and walks, and conversations, and watching Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet”, and even some kitchen-cleaning, and an extraordinary dream (more about it later), and — as a gift from the universe — a clear vision of the next sonnet painting.

I know it’s January, but it’s spring already here in Northern California. Probably happy with a few days of rains, the new grass is incredibly, shiningly green — almost painful to the eyes, if it wasn’t so obviously filled with delight. Torn between rain and sun, the sky is of the kind that cannot be painted, simply because nobody would believe me. People would think I am just trying to express something esoteric — with a grand diagonal across the sky, clear blue to the right, violet-grayish clouds to the left, with a pale-yellow sun barely visible through them. So I won’t even try to paint it — but just note that the color variations are exactly what I need for this next sonnet.

The kitchen-cleaning, though — what could it possibly have to do with Studio Journal? But it does — because it was one of the obviously successful manifestations of the new way of living I am trying out: a life without planning, but just riding the waves of intentions, desires, impulses, and inspirations. Not forcing myself to do anything by putting it on “to-do lists”, but not delaying things either: just do it when the impulse arises. If someone else promised me in advance this impulse to clean the kitchen, I probably wouldn’t believe them — but it came, and I actually cleaned it; pure action, without plans, without delays, without resistance, without procrastination, without spending any mental energy on the endless game between “will” and “resistance”. The kitchen example is admittedly ridiculous, I know, but I’ve decided to put it here nonetheless — just because the boundaries between different realms of life are, in a sense, even more ridiculous.

Paul Cezanne. Self-portrait. 1866.
Paul Cezanne. Self-portrait. 1866.

The dream — I haven’t experienced dreams so colourful before…  Put in plain terms, the dream was about a hike across America (from Los Angeles up north towards Canada) with a young Paul Cézanne (looking more or less like he does in this picture). It seems to me that I was much younger than I actually am in this dream, too. It was a painting trip, but also a quest — where we had to find different places, and there were pictures supposed to guides to the next place. I remember three things about this trip most clearly: a view, with stones and bushes on the top of a hill, which I suggested we should paint. His utter surprise that it can be colder in the south than in the north. And the fact that Highway 5 was a bright-yellow downward slope, which one could traverse with amazing speed sitting on one’s bottom — quite useful when one is hiking from Los Angeles to Canada, actually.   

 2016-01-04 13.07.02-1And lastly, the vision for the next sonnet painting, 81 — not completely “out of the blue” — I’ve been staying with this sonnet for quite some time already — but unexpected nonetheless. I believe it might have been blocked by the crisis with the previous one, even though I didn’t understand it. I did contemplate the sonnet — it’s somewhat controversial meaning, it’s ambiguous relationship to truth, the question of who talks to whom in this sonnet (I will write more about it later on). And I did a colour chart for its colour harmony. But there was still no structure, no imagery; I couldn’t really start the painting; it was all too fuzzy.

But now it’s here. Its basic geometry — the contrast between a large, Turner-like circle of light, and the rough, earthly, stony foreground. The flickering oranges against shiny greys. I now know exactly how the painting ought to look like. All that remains is to paint it!

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