Only a half bottle of Pino Grigio could make me come up with a title like that, but so I did as I am trying to kick start myself into writing something new. Because lately I've been feeling like I have nothing else to say, I just keep going around in circles with the same themes, twitching them here and there, adding to, "maturing" them perhaps. And I'm not just talking about masks or painting. I reflect that most of us incarnating on this planet are not master multi-tasker souls (science seems to be indicating that always "multi tasking" isn't so effective anyway)...... I believe we are beings who have certain themes that inform our lives and for better or worse, we keep developing those themes throughout.
I love the face of the painting above because of the rather honest way I painted my own face, with an expression of irony, touched with melancholy, rather than serene sanctity, which is something alas I rarely achieve. That expression no longer exists in the painting, as I felt obliged to sanitize it (it is, after all, dedicated to Gaia) by making the face less harsh and more serene and divine in expression.
Ok, also more boring, to tell you the truth, and I suspect that had I left it alone Gaia would not have minded. I know that the Great Mother is full of contradictions and irony, love and conflict, dark and light, as She has pursued Her vast planetary experiment which includes us, Her most troublesome children (well, judging from their sudden demise, I suspect she didn't like the dinosaurs all that much either. I occasionally feel we are headed in the same direction.) She would not be offended by my human contradictions and ambiguities. I think. I hope.
Lately I've been trying to learn how to paint again, and it's like "painting 101", I don't feel sure at all about the process, but that's exciting too. It's a privilege when one has moments of "beginner's mind". One of my roadblocks is that I sometimes find that I'm still, after all these years, carrying around the "art world", heaven's help me. I don't need to impress them (whoever "they" are) or myself, I just need to mentally shut up and enter the magic of "Flow" and just make stuff. Which is where it all began when I was discovering crayons on the sidewalk in front of my house at 7 (there was a certain shade of turquoise blue that to this day I remember with abject delight.)
|"The Green Man" (2021)|I waste precious creative energy because sometimes the Fine Arts Realm seems to be frowning over my shoulder, critiquing me as I go. I find myself tormenting myself with voices of "art world failure syndrome" - that I have failed to become a really good artist, that I have failed to make really meaningful "statements", that my work is too pretty, or spiritual, or not "relevant", that I should, should, should......... damn. I wonder how many others have such familiar demons troubling their sleep? Why do I continue to torture myself by reading Art in America, etc., feeling left out of those august ranks? Why not just cancel the subscription and end the pain?
Why not instead just re-read Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word and feel smug and self-satisfied that I am not "conceptual" or even "virtual" (there was no such thing as "virtual" when he wrote the book anyway)?
I am not even sure I understand the language any more......artist's statements are becoming very esoteric. How is the below for mind bending? Here is the Abstract from a treatise on contemporary painting that came my way. I have not read the article, being unable to fathom the introduction itself.
"The artistic notion of the 'death' of painting needs little introduction. It has shaped the course of twentieth century art, and affected the lives and practices of millions of artists in fundamental ways, but the model of the human mind upon which it implicitly rests is no longer considered to have useful relevance in the twenty-first century. Cognitive science and evolutionary psychology have concluded that the mind is not a blank slate but content-rich at birth, and as such humans bear an array of innate expectations of reality and non-reality, many of which apply as much to the artform of painting as they do other cultural behaviours and expressions such as religion or music. This eclectic and creative thesis takes in a diverse series of case studies tracing the prehistory of painting in light of these cognitive propensities, from the beginnings of human culture in Southern Africa to abstract designs and hand-prints in the Palaeolithic caves, from Bushman rock art depicting swift-people to the reported experiences of painters living today, to uncover a perennial and foundational function for painting which cannot die: the ubiquitous sensation of an 'otherworld' beyond the surface of the canvas or rock face. This simultaneously new and ancestral approach to painting demands a rehabilitation of the medium as both a humanising self-expression and as beyond-the-self exploration in a modern art context increasingly estranged from the wider world. Painting as 'Liminal Contact' seeks to abandon artistic ideologies and limiting art theories of what is possible in favour of a direct image-based communion with human nature. "
What? I didn't even know that painting was dead. Yet this author does seem to offer hope, suggesting that painting as "liminal contact" can be a "direct image-based communion with human nature". I will endeavor to read on.
Although I am not sure I really want to have "communion with human nature". I think I would prefer some communion with animals, or plants, or, sometimes, just about anything that gets me free of the chaos of human nature. But I will endeavor to read on.
Recently I saw a notice for submissions to a Women's Show. On the application it said: "Open to all CIS women, Transwomen, female identified, and Non-Binary". Whew. Pretty much includes any one who has felt "womanly" at any time, including those who wish to opt out of the whole thing by being non-binary (womxn is the new word, so as to not be exclusionary). "Woman (Womxn)" has ceased to be biology and has become a mutable identity choice.
What is going to happen to Judy Chicago's Dinner Party or Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues now? (Are all those vaginal images now politically incorrect or exclusionary? Or will they just be archived as curious remnants of another time?) And I have indeed become a dinosaur wandering about in a brave new incomprehensible art world.
So what is left to me? Freedom. To just keep creating. And if that Great Monolith of the Art World still tsk's at my ineptitude within my mind, I will politely ask it to leave and bother someone younger and more urban. I am determined to locate again that child with the luscious blue crayon. I would like to make the work often a devotional activity. And above all to, as the Navajo say, to try to "Walk in Beauty". That is what I would like to affirm now.
That, and, the great lesson of Impermanence.
|"Form Is Empty, Empty Is Form" (2008)|