Friday, November 18, 2005

give and take

I'm reminded of just how good I have it when I talk to people about my art life. I'm living the dream that so many have, namely, being able to do what your heart desires. Choosing to continue with a creative life isn't always easy, nor always fun, but I can't think of anything else that I'd be as enthusiastic about working at. It's the one area of my life where I derive the most pleasure and happiness from. I never feel so alive as when I'm in the midst of painting or doing something else creative. Even if what I'm working on is turning out to be complete shit, I still experience an intensity of feeling that I don't really experience in other areas of my life.

The feelings are often indescribable. I've told friends that even though I don't smoke, there have been times when I've been so caught up in what I'm doing that I feel like I need to smoke or do something to disperse some of the energy that builds up during a painting session. The intensity of focus is what causes that reaction. I can feel the adrenaline rushing through me when I'm really caught up in a painting. Sometimes, it can feel like having sex, at others, more like being in a physical competition against others or the clock. The only difference with me is that most of the activity is taking place mentally. The physical component of painting, for me, isn't that dramatic. At times, it is, but there's a more measured mix of the mental and physical for me as a painting develops. I know I'm much more physically engaged in how I apply paint and other materials in the begining of a work than later on.

The point at which the mental begins taking precidence over the physical is never the same, but it does occur. There's a point where I scrutinize the formal decisions about color, compostition, forms, etc... much more intensely than when I started the piece. At what point in the process this occurs is different every time, but it always happens. I usually refer to that point as when "the painting begins to tell me where it wants to go". Every painting has it's own life. While I might start off with a general idea of what I want to do and achieve, there's always a point where a dialogue begins to take shape; there's more of a 'push/pull' relationship happening between myself and what's going on with the images and forms on the canvas.

It's give and take, as is the ideal in other areas of life. Every decision or mark I make on the canvas affects everything else I've previously done and what comes after.
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