Carolyn Henderson says this in her blog today:
“As your own middle manager, you wrestle with an orderly, recognizable work schedule wrapped like a python around the insurgent screaming soul of your Muse. “
You nailed it again, Carolyn! I checked with Robert Genn, too, and he thinks this way too. So if two faves think alike on this one I will forgive myself for being in my yesterday’s jeans and last night’s jammie tops with a fleece vest on and a heater at my back. And for having at least eight in-process works sitting around in various states of drying- one which I brought in a while ago from a place on the porch where it was out-gassing from a late night session.
The phone already has taken its slice out of today’s morning. In an hour or so it will be time for my daytime sleep. Not called a nap anymore, since it can run into the evening hours when I get up and start all over again, but without the long phone call interruptions. The housemate upstairs knows I clank around in the kitchen at night getting my second breakfast and second lunch while I intermittently work on various things and catch up on the internet news. (I don’t own a TV.)
Last night I used a dremel tool, sandpaper, watercolors, oil paints, damar varnish (the one that needed to out-gas), carving tools, glue, leather, spot remover, and brushes, gravity, chemical reactions, and a lot of cleaning up tools in the efforts at these various art items. A good part of painting is the time between strokes. Waiting until it is just right to add the next part.
With wood items it often has to do with rolling liquid color around on the object, making it drip unimpeded at just the right speed to make the mark I have in mind. Then waiting until it is sufficiently dry to drop another color or medium into the bowl and work it in a different manner or direction. Last night I used a tool to scrape the color multiple times to make a directional texture. And I tried white as an edge, rather than the black or near black edging I like to use on some of the ridges between planes.
There is a painting that sits looking at me and I do some thinking about it while I work on other things. It’s a watercolor of what I call Elephant Ankles, of trees standing in a flooded lagoon. Last night I took a very sparse brush to it and laid in some defining darks that I am pleased with. I’ll keep an eye on it today to see what my Muse suggests next. Might be a week before she speaks.
That python Carolyn speaks of wraps itself in the most insidious ways some days. Two days ago I was up an old wood tripod ladder purposefully and conscientiously reattaching the rain tarp from the eaves over my workshop door. A huge wind gust had taken apart an elaborate visquine setup to shunt rainwater away from my door and into the driveway. It was important to replace it before the next rain.
But the ladder failed. The tired metal struts that held it apart just decided to bend and collapse, dropping me about four feet onto the concrete apron which had “stuff” lying on it: parts of the ladderthat dropped ahead of me. I have ” python marks” on my thigh, rear, elbow and arm of my right side to show for this fall. Happily my bones are intact; I didn’t fracture my pelvis or get a pulmonary embolism or any of that stuff my brain wanted to worry about while I was saying a mild oath and regarding my arms and legs all spread out on the concrete. The bruises ache, but I am able to do the work I mentioned above during last night’s session, and I was also able to revisit my tarp project with a garden rake and a garden umbrella to good avail. Not pretty, but not uglier than the original arrangement, and it will work.
The adventure is frustrating, but it will stitch itself into the tapestry that is my routine, and become, one way or another, part of my output, whether it’s just this blog entry, or maybe even a painting.
A painting in my archives comes to mind. It’s called His Stuff, and it is a densely busy oil painting of the garage once used and fully occupied by a guy I was married to who collected art supplies and machines. I am certain that at least 60% of the objects in that garage weighed over 200 pounds each! Cauldrons of brass keys, two giant photo enlargers, stacks of metal, precious exotic hardwood chunks, sculpture maquettes large enough to fill a bathroom. Generators and Oxy/Acetylene equipment, car motors and old gears and propellers. A mirror too large to move without a dolly.
I loved that painting. It’s one of my best, and it was the chosen subject for a lively discussion group at a close-in art show with mensa-type folks. EVERYONE related to it somehow, and one of them really related, saying “what’s that dummy there in the middle?”
My Muse and I had audaciously decided to add to the garage collection a blow-up female figure, somewhat deflated and hanging from the ceiling. The inflatable figure was symbolic of me, part of his collection of useful objects! I thought that the discussion group reviewer really had a point. That object was a dummy!
But there you are! The big frustrated sigh became art that others could relate to. An artist’s life is not mainly the paints or chips. It’s the output. And when the output reaches well to others, it is successful art. That’s what keeps me happily up at night.