January 19, 2016: is it complete?

2016-01-19 13.27.50

I had time for three hours in the studio, and these were intended for the first sonnets composition (1-9), continuing the work started yesterday: (finally) bringing this composition to its (hopefully) completed and unified version.

But I stopped earlier — about twenty minutes earlier, in fact. I couldn’t go on because the painting overwhelmed me when I stepped back to look at it and decide what’s yet to be done. The feeling emanating from it was so strong that I couldn’t really “judge” it, couldn’t even begin to decide whether I need to do anything else. And it’s not often that this sensation of a painting’s power is so strong; one has to cherish it — and trust it, to some extent. Maybe the painting is, indeed, finally complete — or maybe not. But in any event, by the end of this studio day, I was in no position to decide.

The changes I’ve made today have mainly to do with “propagation” of the blues throughout the painting, and with its overall tonal structure. Both are attempts to achieve a more unified impression.

One problem, of course, is that the very idea to have these multi-sonnets compositions emerged after these nine have been built into a collage. This idea came to me “out of the blue” and seemed to be purely “pragmatic” at the time — it was easier to hang them this way. It was the explicit “golden ratio”-based structure in the composition of each individual painting that created the first hint of unification, which I hadn’t quite foreseen. Later on, I began to think about this unity “in advance” — although I still work on individual paintings one by one, I try to keep the whole composition in mind.

Here, though, this compositional unity was just at the point of emergence. Now, it seems to be complete.

The sonnets came back to me as I was working all over the composition — each still has its own voice. But now, I believe, the unified “meaning” of this composition — including the repetitive “conflicts” between dark and light — seems to be there, and rhyming with the paradoxical meaning I read in the sonnets.

It crossed my mind today, during the walk, that I have to let go of the idea that time spent doing something matters at all. It seems that the same connection to nature I used to experience only when painting from life, I now achieve just by walking; and why not? It is certainly a more ecologically responsible way of life. But the time might come when I am ready for the next level of unity — and this might “require” more painting. For now, though, I am content with how the life happens to me — and if it means less studio time, so be it.


January 15-17, 2016: a glimpse of the future

2015-06-22 13.46.47It’s not a real “Studio Journal” entry, because I haven’t been in the studio — well, almost.

One event in the studio I want to record nonetheless — however brief it was — because it felt like a glimpse of the future. The future of the very first “Sonnets in Colour” composition, which I had been reworking since June at least, and then abandoned at some point. At some level, it was a decision that the composition is complete; at another, though, I still knew that that’s not what it ought to be. That it isn’t really working — but rather falls apart. Most of these struggles aren’t even recorded in my “internal”, in-progress, photos (this picture reflects the very beginning of this re-work).

I had a deeper look at it over this long weekend away from the studio — and then this glimpse, this blue echo from the future, happened. I knew the direction I’ve got to take it in — and this, I think, will form the core of this Studio Journal in the few coming days at least.

This three-day pause in the painting process bothers me, though. One reason for that is, of course, my work on my online course (it’s third “module”, which basically completes the heavy writing for this program). But there has been also a lot of walking in the parks — and simply being, listening, resting into existence.

I still have a hard time believing the darkness, the depth of — I don’t know what: was it a crisis? A depression? A bout of exhaustion — whatever it was, I can hardly believe I could have gone through this time basically without noticing it. And only the dismal record of painting “output” remains as a reminder of these months. The lack of photo record, for me, stands as a sign that I just didn’t want to see where I was. This journal is perhaps an attempt to prevent this from happening again; if I find myself in this dark wood, I want at least walk through it why my eyes open.

Now, as though awakening from a long illness, I paint less (but more “to the point”) and walk more. And these walks sometimes seem like even more important “studio events” than whatever happens in the studio. A long walk in Coyote Hills park on Saturday, for example, along its Bay View trail, with sky in all the subtleties of multicoloured grey, interspersed bright whites now and then. This is a place one wants to paint desperately, and yet there is this feeling that nothing remain to paint — nothing to express, nothing to “create” — this creation is complete. It doesn’t need a painter, just a witness to pay attention to it.

I sometimes pause and think about the unrepeatable stream of beauty, visual reality, which goes in front of every single person’s eyes, every waking moment. Each moment, a new unique combination of visual impressions — because there will never be this exact combination of colours, and light, and everything, and there is nobody but you at this unique point in space, and each person’s visual perception is unique, too. It will never happen again, and yet most of us miss it completely most of the time, lost in thoughts, or worries, or plans, or emotions. I certainly do — way more often than I would have loved to…