Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The dark mood is lifting. This morning the world seems bright and open, ready for me to make a mark on it. And that is in a nutshell how I see the world, a place to make your mark in. I'm not going to be someone who leaves no footprints. But I know, thinking of lost art, thinking of how works of mine have already been damaged while I'm still living - that my trade, making pictures, works with fragile material. Paintings and drawings that I stored in the barn behind my house have already been ruined by fluctuating temperature and moisture. I've ripped work, I've cut work, work has developed holes in it or cracks. I'm so passionate about what I'm doing that I forget about past works, I don't care about past works. With me its always what is happening in the present or the future.
I saw a wonderful documentary about David Hockney and he was always taking about the now, the magical, "infinite" (that's his word) now. He's over 70, and for the first time, he allowed a filmmaker to film him while he was painting a landscape. It was marvelous virtuoso painting, directly from his eye to the brush, he sort of drew the scene without hesitation in oil, without much backtracking, only addition, and no erasures. The painting that starts this blog was in the documentary, and at the time he was kicking out a painting a day.
He said at one point that he has been privileged, and immediately I thought about all his wealth and fame, but his conversation was not going in that direction. "I've been privileged" he said, "because I get immense pleasure from my eyes. Its been that way my whole life". Another painter offered up an opinion why Hockney has despite his fame remained human and approachable. He said in essence that what matters the most to the man is making art, first and foremost, and that keeps him pure at heart. I know that when you draw, it matters not if it is from your imagination or a scene in front of you, but when you are creating you are immersed deeply in "the now". Hockney draws, and draws, and draws, he is addicted I think to it. He says that painters paint until they drop dead, and I know that this is the way for me. Even should I be confined in my last years to a nursing home, I will draw with crayons or colored pencils. I've been confined to the hospital and there I drew with colored pencils - rather nice drawings because I was crazy and the ideas came to me with all the gusto and vibration that a cracked mind can summon. They weren't ordinary drawings. I'm afraid that insanity for me makes me create darling things - primitive of course, but darling. The only sort of retirement I can envision is a shift from oil to a paper medium. Paper was my first true love and makes the least amount of mess - important to the institution that you are locked up in. Yes, I know how to live fully and richly while locked up, with any degree of dehumanization, and any curtailing of freedom, one of the legacies of the experience my mental illness has given me.
Tomorrow I'm going to paint a sky. I've had a Sunday painter ask me, after seeing one of my sky with all the subtle transitions of blue, how do you do that so smoothly? And I told her the secret was to use your fingertips to blend the paints. Fingertips blend more smoothly than brushes. I was once using my fingers in an art school, then wiping them clean with turpenoid, and the instructor had a fit. "That's poisonous, both the paint and the turpenoid. You don't want your skin to touch them. Put on plastic gloves, we provide plastic gloves." But I noticed that you lose control when you wear plastic gloves, so no plastic gloves for me, although I wash now the paint off my fingers with dish soap and hot water. I don't paint skies everyday, so I'm not worried about the little exposure I get to toxins. At least I don't get paint in my mouth. They say on the internet that the dirtiest fruit in terms of pesticides are strawberries, because their skin is so thin, it absorbs the most pesticides. If there is only one fruit you should eat that is organic it is strawberries. But I'm afraid that they are either unavailable in organic form at the grocery store or else they are past ripe and in poor shape, so I eat dirty fruit. Usually I don't even wash them. Oh, I'm such a dirty, foolish, lazy girl. I'm having strawberries and bran cereal tonight for dinner. David Hockney smoked continuously through-out his documentary, so I know probably what he will die of. He said that the bible only promises you 70 years, so anything he gets after will be a bonus. He said that he had only maybe 5 or 10 years left, there's no knowing, and then he went on to create one of the largest paintings in history. "That painting is all about David" said another painter, "its his King Lear moment. He's on a hilltop and he's exposing himself to all of us." What he meant, is that Hockney wished to show his talent, making what no other artist could, a lifetime of learning and practicing and experimentation, and then with this painting, he howled at the elements, and controlled what no other man could control. The painting, of a landscape, had 50 separate panels in it, that is what made it so large.
I'm afraid that my imagination has taken a dark turn for my large scale painting of Adoration of the Magi. In the sky, there will be evil angels raping the good angels. My husband brought on this new thought, he said that on the day that Christ was born evil took a terrible blow. So I thought, won't the minor devils be angry and take out their revenge on the good angel's of heaven? Leave it to me to put violence into Adoration of the Magi. Peace, serenity, adoration, love, on the ground near the manger where Christ was born, and a free for all battle in the sky. I'll be subtle about the rape.......... its a creative challenge to make rape subtle. In fact I may have to change the title of the painting to make it clear exactly what is going on. Or is it better to not tell? I guess I was a little hopeful that a good version of Adoration of the Magi could be put on display at my church, but if I stray too much from convention, no church display. Church is like the library, they want nothing too challenging for the public, most everything light and sweet. Right now in our Church parlor is a painting done by a member, so that's why I had my hope, but that painting is of a landscape in the autumn when the leaves have turned orange and red. I guess a crucifixion would have a place in the church, at least most churches, but not mine. We don't have one crucifixion anywhere that I've seen. And as a matter of fact, there aren't too many crosses either to remind one of the crucifixion.
Put on perfume this morning, and had a moment when I remembered why I started wearing perfume in the first place. One, it was to label me different from the homeless people that smelled bad. I was aware that I have a lot in common with the homeless, both of us being mentally ill usually, and I was doing what I could to distance myself from my brother's and sister's in humanity. And two, it was so difficult taking a shower that I wore perfume out of desperation, hoping it would mask any sweat smell.
Dirty, lazy, smelly, careless, risky and disabled. David Hockney said that he was NOT a decent person, and I wondered what secrets he hid from the documentary film maker. What he paints is the most decent of subjects, landscape after landscape. They would hang his landscape in my church parlor. I would say that I am a decent person, somehow I live my life contrary to Hockney, I've got very few pricks on my conscience, but what I paint is, I'm afraid, usually not decent.