I recently took a vacation from all work, including painting. I camped, watched light and shadow dance on the leaves of trees, and read a very thick book to completion. All the while I felt a gnawing underbelly of pressure.
Guilt, things I could and should be doing for life and an awareness of needing empty spaces inside to recharge. I was torn between two ways of being. Often we are caught between two things, writes Natalie Goldberg in her book, The True Secret of Writing. Pulled into a fray of right or wrong—should I do this, should I do that?—Natalie says that within a struggle, a third thing can be birthed, fueled by the extremes and fertilized into something that is unique to you and very real.
The Third Thing
I have experienced this very real phenomenon in the act of making an abstract painting. We don’t think our way to resolution, we find the space between. I’m not trying to “make“ it into anything, but I am wanting my emotions to lead the way. It’s a form of getting to the truth, our own truth.
I have found existentialist writer John Graham to be a wonderful resource in describing just those spaces in proclaiming what is art is in his manifesto from 1939 titled, Systems and Dialectics of Art.
He claims that the purpose of art is to re-establish relationship with the unconscious. He states that the “conscious mind is incapable of creating; and is only a clearing house for the powers of the unconscious and the best way to our unconscious is through our emotions.”
For me, I work with shadows, externally and internally. If I linger and not squint too hard, the shadows might come into focus or dissipate altogether.
John Graham has left me with questions. For instance, I usually talk about abstract works of art as creating movement that moves the eye just so. He makes a different statement claiming:
“A great work of art is always static. A dynamic state is the natural state of things and there is no accomplishment in falling in with eternal motion, the heroic feat is to arrest motion by stupendous effort and to contemplate. An abstract painting is an argument drawn to a conclusion.”
Contemplation, a calm in a storm, the static within movement, all in search of our unique point of view.
Thank you for reading,
Sunday - July 14th
One Day Only Collectors Sale- 11:00 - 5:00 pm
A variety of small and large pieces will be made available at studio prices for purchase. I will give a talk at 2:00 pm.
September 26 & 27 in Santa Fe
I am teaching The Space Between Painting and Intuition with Stacy Philips. Just a few spots left!