Sunday, January 4, 2015

Learning Lessons

I believe that every single painting or collage I create should teach me something.  Every painting should be a chance to try something new, different, unique.  Whether I am painting representationally or not, I am always looking for that new experience, the "look at that!" moment when, perhaps, two colors collide that I've never mixed before or maybe brush strokes leave an unexpected texture.  That sort of small but powerful lesson is the experience I am looking for in painting.

"Winter Solstice III" 15"X22" collage
I was a white water kayaker for many years.  We used to paddle the wild and scenic section of the Rogue River (Oregon) almost every summer with a group of other paddlers from the Seattle area. One of the regular guys was named Joe and he was an expert paddler who played guitar but was otherwise a pretty quiet guy.  One trip, coming into our last camp at Solitude, Joe lingered on a small wave just upstream, surfing his kayak back and forth.  Camp was well established before he finally came in.  I asked him what he was doing up there so long and he said "I wanted to stay on it until I learned something."  An expert kayaker on a small surf wave?  "Did you?" I asked and he smiled his gentle smile.  "Yes".

That small lesson is what I am looking for when I paint.  Recently I read a blog about setting intentions in art.  I set intentions, consciously, in yoga and in Healing Touch (I am a Level 1 practitioner).  I never considered applying the concept to painting.  Intention equals "what I want".  Intention is a goal.  If I truly don't know what I want, then I am, as the blogger put it, "just pushing paint around."  The blog provoked a lot of thought because I asked myself "is it enough to say that my intention is to learn from the process?"  I believe it is exactly enough intention.  I seek that wonderful, breathless place where I don't care about anything except watching what happens if.... And, when that moment arrives, it defines what the painting will be, where it will go.  It feels like flying.

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