This morning I could smell Fall creeping in; the smell of warm earth cooling in the night, subtly different I think, then Spring’s smell of cold earth warming. Or perhaps it was the sight of so many bees amongst the flowers heavy with pollen or the subtle shift of the greens to a darker, duller shade that turned my thoughts. Maybe, the sound of the returning Merlins, back from where they fledged this summer’s young, is what gave it away. Or was it the feel of the brittle raspberry canes, spent of their bounty, that I trimmed out in the evening. Nature never isolates our senses, she always provides a bounty for all. We rely so heavily on sight when painting, that I despair of ever capturing more. But, I know it can be done because I can feel Vincent van Gogh’s paintings shimmer, and am pulled into the deep shadows of Hopper, and the breeze smells cool off Seurat’s water. Art for all our senses !
I’ve been writing this post in my head for awhile, and by awhile I mean weeks. There is some sort of break between my head and my fingers when it comes to writing, or maybe it is easier to hit delete in my head (which actually explains the rather infrequent posts). However, the inspiration for the post, a painting, is finally finished which has given me a little boost in the I can get things done department.
I do dishes around here rather often ( so does my husband – not complaining dear !) and sometimes or maybe most of the time it feels like my effort would have more value elsewhere. But one particular day all the stainless steel pots and pans piled in the sink struck me as being rather artful. The cool light from the window was spilling over one half and the warm light from inside illuminated the other half. I stopped and took a picture. I ended up using this picture for an exercise in complementary colours I did in my slow attempt to start painting in acrylics. It was probably not a good choice for a beginner ; all hard lines and, reflections and shadows. I got rather frustrated on several occasions, but hey, not simple and frustrating can work sometimes too.
I’ve been thinking on what I value as an artistic experience, and my pots have inspired me to try and appreciate my everyday work as an important part of who I am as an artist. Strangely enough, a book I grabbed from the painting section at the library yielded this quote from the first page I flipped to:
When you wash dishes, be with the dishes only. … For the painter, mindfulness is a good exercise in concentration. – The Zen of Creative Painting
Was I being mindful when doing dishes and seeing a painting ? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m seldom thinking much about the dishes when doing them. I’m usually listening to music or watching the scenery out the window. Have I failed mindfulness ? It seems for me everything is turned around. When I ‘m painting I can’t be anything but mindful; I loose all sense of time and of having anything but form and colour in front of me. Painting is probably the closest I come to real meditation. Maybe art will lead me to mindfulness in life instead of mindfulness in life leading to art. Either way, I want to regard all of my daily experiences more highly.
On the other hand, you can read this (which appeared in my inbox not long after reading the aforementioned quote):
and get some more thoughts on mindfulness. It’s just that kind of day …
Time to paint !!!
Reflections on Value – a study in yellow and violet.
6 1/4” x 11” Acrylic on Illustration Board
I was actually felting the other day (squeezed that in between all the garden tasks), but unfortunately it was one of those instances where the vision of what I wanted to accomplish and the sight of what was in front of me were not lining up. Now, I’m pretty flexible and letting the piece go where it wants to go often yields something interesting; this was not one of those times ! The project was consigned to the recycle heap, and I was in a bit of a funk over the “lost” time. Being annoyed puts me in the mood for introspection (better than throwing things I guess), so I got to thinking on the topic of “vision versus execution” in art. I would like to think, that were I a professional artist (read full-time), that I would be able to master my craft and then be able to produce just what my little ol’ mind could dream up. I suspect however, that reality might be more like this quote from Einstein :
Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.
That was my experience when studying Physics, and I have a feeling that always chasing a moving target/having greater expectations happens in most areas of endeavor. It could just be a personality thing too. It is a bit depressing to think that I might never be satisfied with my execution, but maybe that’s what keeps one going. Anyone out there further along the art curve want to set me straight ?