Monday, 24 April 2017
Let Go and Just Paint
I haven't painted in a few months and now that I am in a time period of restless anticipation this is a very good time to pick up my brushes again. When I think of the three activities I am most passionate about, reading, writing and painting, I realise that painting is very special. Reading and writing are things I have to do. I must feed my brain and I must pour out my thoughts and ideas or I get tangled in a mental mess. Painting is different. When I paint I lose myself in the way one is supposed to with meditation. I am detached from my thoughts and most of my senses and the only thing I know is what is happening on the canvas, what I want to do next in terms of colour and brush strokes, and the tension between what I am intending to create and what is being created despite me.
My art isn't particularly correct and that's also something that really takes me outside myself because I tend to put great stock in knowledge. In general I crave knowledge, I want to know things that I do not yet know, I want to understand the universe I live in. I seek to learn what, why and how and in general am a very big fan of science. There are truths and facts in this world that can be known, there are things not yet known but within sight and they inspire awe. I am someone who favours knowing but painting is about not knowing. I am someone who takes few risks but painting is very risky. Every time I finish a painting I like I am terrified that I cannot do it again.
Painting teaches me things I have difficulty articulating.
Many things in this world are not subjective. But art is. Sure there are people who will say there are certain techniques or methods that must be followed, there are rules that some adhere to, and yes, I've got the bar set too high to ever touch let alone jump over because unless I can produce something to rival Leonardo Da Vinci I will only ever consider myself a dilettante, a dabbler, an amateur. I am unschooled and I do not practice enough to ever become good. Sometimes that bothers me because I tend to only want to do things I can be good at.
Quite regularly I have to speak to myself sternly. Just who do I think I am, and what arrogance this is to imagine that I could or should be good at anything let alone the things I wish to be good at. There are many people much more skilled or talented than I am and many others with no talent at all dabbing away either believing themselves to possess skills they do not or else not caring. My inner perfectionist scorns them as I would scorn myself. No, I am not kind. I am a harsh critic though in general the criticism is aimed at myself. While I might easily be critical of others who are also not Leonardo Da Vinci, my energy is not invested in their improvement. It is invested in desiring my own. So I paint. And while I paint I forget to criticise. I forget everything and I know only colour and texture and a liquid world. While I paint I hope, I imagine, I believe that my intentions are being deposited on the canvas and that the results might not only please my own eyes but the eyes of others. I could say that I paint for myself, and I do, but can any artist or would-be-artist truly claim not to hope her work appeals to others too?
I am sure that art is a form of communication and communication is not about releasing ideas into the void. Communication is meant to happen between conscious beings, beings with sensory perceptions. I paint to get outside of my own head and yet I also paint to communicate something to others. I paint to say here I am. Perhaps I am like you. Perhaps we are connected in some way. Perhaps I will understand myself better by painting and perhaps you will understand me and yourself better too.
When I wash up my brushes my thoughts grow a bit more practical and I worry about how much paint I used and can I afford to buy some more. Can I afford not to?