"The Gates of Hope"- thoughts behind the painting


Here is my artist statement that accompanies this painting:

"The gates of hope...

Fire lifted in the distant voicings of my youth.

Age lets me see across time.

I am a time traveler because I am old. 

I travel in real time. Slowly. 

I am real.  

The mistakes I have made do not add up.  

They burn away and leave a glow.  

The embers create a path along my timeline. 

They burn crisp, an undulating glow in synch with my pulse. 

Ready to draw me in,

ready to pull me out of any misery that drags,

ready to be hot stepping stones to the gates of hope."

 

When I started this painting, I wanted to do something very spacious, and of the rich colors that I saw in a dream. It was a really strange dream where everything moved slowly and we were near a campfire and there was a lot of movement, no real story to it, just a feeling like I could see the future and past of my life all at the same time. I sat down in front of the blank canvas ready to try something new, and ready for it to be effortless and in the end, comforting and beautiful. I let my brush lead the way, and at first did a lot of color blocking, and out-of-focus blending.  Then as I worked, the glowing forms in the middle started to emerge with a lot of detail. Once I covered the canvas, I knew I had to take a break to let it dry.  

In between sessions, I imported the painting onto my iPad so I could work on it digitally. I tried many different layers, taking chances I never would have with real paint.  After ditching some of the more obviously bad layers, I came up with what was to be the finished painting.  What an enormous tool to be able to use in my studio practice! This is a new way of working for me, and I feel like it amplifies what I had already been doing for years and years. 

There’s a big difference. The only way I was able to get to what I consider my signature style (it is evolving) is by taking chances and doing things I had never tried before.  The problem is, taking big chances doesn’t always work out. In the process I have created some real pieces of whatever-the-opposite-of-masterpiece-is.  I would never want anyone to see those doozies.  All good to be painted over, am I right? 

I know by now that "following the muse" is not 100% great results all the time.  I suppose you have to be a little de-constructive in order to be constructive.  You have to be willing to destroy as well as create.  I am still learning this.  My personality is that I usually don't like to waste anything.  

Since I'm writing this on Thanksgiving morning, I can't help but compare my studio practice with my kitchen.  I really don't like to waste food, so sometimes I make something with whatever is in the kitchen, and it usually comes out edible.  Sometimes phenomenal, but usually I just get by with it being edible and happy that the wilty celery did not get wasted.  I love cleaning out the fridge and making soup with whatever is there and then it is totally empty and I can shop the next day to fill it up. On the other hand, when I pick out a recipe, get the ingredients, make everything just right, and serve it up with great timing, and a great group of friends/family it has a different and much more elevated effect.

The same exact thing happens with my studio practice. Sometimes I use whatever I have on hand, whatever colors are left on my palette, whatever surfaces I have laying around, and I can kind of get something together that makes me feel satisfied, or maybe it's pretty good, not great. BUT! If I get the idea and the vision first and then get the materials to meet me there, totally bold and unafraid to waste the materials to get what I want, that is when I can reach that more elevated state.  

Using digital in between sessions is a great way to satisfy that need to not waste materials and give myself a chance to be spontaneous along the way of creating.  It allows me to take more chances more quickly, kind of like brainstorming a bunch of ideas and see what works.  What I used to do before, was just sit and imagine what would be next, and then picture it in my head before moving forward.  

I am really excited about this painting because it is quite different than what I have done before.  It surprised me in the end, like oh wow, who painted this?  That's one of the best feelings in the whole world.  The feeling that an artist gets the moment they realize that their vision is complete.