Daily Archives: June 26, 2010

Personal revelations on life and art

Peter is having donuts and stir fry for breakfast. I report this little detail because it came to my attention the other day what individuals our children each are. No, really. I jokingly said to David, “as far as influencing our kid’s lifestyle choices, I’ve been a washout. Jem is into fashion and popular culture, tattoos and all things girly; Aug counts golf, ganja, girls (make that girl, he’s in a relationship) and music as his primary interests, and now Pete’s all about fishing, air guns and dirt bikes.”

Sigh, it’s a good thing, I’m sure, but the whine of the dirt bike is going to be hard to get used to.

Luckily I can retire to my little ‘studio’ and turn on the ventilation fan, which drowns out most background noise. And that leads me to my second revelation.

I have a tendency to just jump right in, and painting is no exception. Prep work is anathema to me. I struggle with an incredibly short attention span coupled with a desire for instant gratification, as well as a flagging sense of discipline. I often start a project with no idea as to where I’m  actually going.

In the big picture, this has led to a lot of happy accidents; at least two out of my three children fall in that category. And in order to maintain such a modus, you have to be flexible and open minded, and I have been both in spades.

This flexibility and lack of investment in a particular outcome have come in very handy when dealing with my cancer diagnosis. But, of course, there is a downside to this less than direct approach. Time is often wasted, chaos frequently prevails and there have been some spectacular dust ups.

It all worked pretty well for the first fifty years of my life.  Yet lately  it has been difficult to ignore how close I am to what may be the edge of my existence. I feel a sense of  emotional clarity out here on the edge, but also an increased awareness of the potential lack of time and physical space. There is an emerging economy to my movements; I am becoming more mindful and my choices more considered.

I started a new painting a few days ago, and I resisted the impulse to immediately load my brushes with paint. Instead, I spent several hours sketching out the subject with a graphite pencil. I made the effort to get the proportions correct. Several times I wiped away the drawing only to start fresh. Finally, it felt right and I applied a thin wash of color. For once, I knew both where I was going and how I was going to get there. And it felt good, really good.