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Mar 03, 2009 16 Comments
Pennsylvania, 48" x 36", Oil on Canvas - work in progress


By late morning I'm on my way to the studio. I scrape the palette clean, admonish myself for never cleaning brushes, move solvent around from jar to jar (removing the sediment), and wonder who convinced me that I had any talent or skill or whatever. Someone with talent wouldn't be scared of a little patch of white canvas.

I nervously plot my first work of the day like a guerilla army planning a raid. With a little effort and strategery, I'll be painting before I or the paintings realize it. If I'm smart, I'll start with something easy or inconsequential. But we all know what good intentions are worth. That big painting that I've been working on is still on the easel. I go to take it down but before I realize it, I'm painting. I just wanted to adjust the blue in one small piece of the sky. Fool, you're still clumsy, you need to warm up. Too late, I have no choice but to keep working as I've just ruined it.

An hour or three ticks by. Now I've really ruined it. I step back time and time again, sometimes looking in a mirror for a fresh perspective. I suck. Who do you think you are? You're an imposter. You might have made a good painting or two, but it was luck, nothing more. Give up.

I wander out to the garden. The buds are pushing forth. I clip a branch or two. Contemplate moving a plant. Drink a cup of tea while sitting on the stone wall thinking about nothing. Find some lunch.

Back in the studio. I see the problem. I forgot the idea. It doesn't have to be a big idea. I'm not talking about the meaning of life or even the cure rates for different concrete recipes. I'm talking about the way orange and gray vibrate, how the light simmers on the side of a building, or how red is flesh is red. The brushes are moving fast. Something good is happening. Or not. It doesn't matter. Something good will happen.

Erin's home. She sticks her head in the studio, tells me to ventilate the space and gives her approval of my efforts. If she has a rehearsal (she's a violinist), we'll toss back any old food. If not, we'll cook or disappear to one of the restaurants in walking distance. Portland is a foodie town.

I head back to the studio. I was wrong. I am horrible, the innocent painting I've just ravaged even more so. I know it. You know it. How the hell am I going to have work ready for the show in a week? I scrape it down a bit and grab bigger brushes. Godzilla in a tutu pirouetting through Tokyo, I lay waste to the old painting. And something good does indeed happen. I am a painting gOD. Bow before me. Tremble for I am mighty. A beautiful thing happened at the end of brush, finger, rag, and knife. How did I do this? I must do it again.

Clouds, 28" x 22", Oil on Canvas


It's 10 pm and Erin's heading to bed. I keep working. The hours tick by. I look up, it's past midnight, maybe past two. I may have worked on anywhere from one to five or six paintings over the day. Some happen in an hour, some take working and reworking over months.

Sleep beckons. It's been a good day. I feel both fortunate that I live this blessed life and that I couldn't live any other - though I have tried.

I slip into my side of the bed and read until sleep takes me.

p.s. the above is the day that isn't wasted with bad reruns on the Netflix box and research into motorcycles I'll never own while eating bon-bons.

DISCUSSION

Martin    Mar 03, 2009  at  6:10 pm
1

Erin’s right.

JW    Mar 03, 2009  at  7:29 pm
2

Of course she is.Like that was ever the question.

Bill Sharp    Mar 03, 2009  at  8:11 pm
3

Great post and paintings. You captured perfectly the conversation in my head.

I really like what’s happening with that top one, both luxurious and austere.

Shawn    Mar 04, 2009  at  9:20 am
4

“p.s. the above is the day that isn’t wasted with bad reruns on the Netflix box and research into motorcycles I’ll never own while eating bon-bons.”

Heh.

You sound like everybody else.  I am constantly waiting for people to discover I have no clue what I am doing.

P.S.  I’m with Martin.

Scott    Mar 04, 2009  at  10:52 am
5

And like everybody else, no one quite knows what they’re doing either.

I need a bon-bon.

p.s. And, yes, of course Erin is right. Thankfully she doesn’t remind me too often.

andrew wachs    Mar 04, 2009  at  2:43 pm
6

Scott nice words, and even nicer images.  I had one of those same days yesterday,except mine didn’t have quite the same finish.  Looking forward to hanging the show Thursday.

Gail    Mar 05, 2009  at  5:55 am
7

Nice read, I wonder if anyone spends the day doing what they don’t without those doubts.

Joseph Calabresi    Mar 05, 2009  at  7:59 am
8

Ahhhh—-If only Rembrandt had left us a blog like this—-maybe it would have read similarly

andrew wachs    Mar 06, 2009  at  2:20 am
9

frame it. and get here, your wall is ready.

Scott    Mar 06, 2009  at  2:23 am
10

It’s better now. I just posted the latest revision.

andrew wachs    Mar 06, 2009  at  2:29 am
11

also you may want to take the 84 route over the pass if you wish.

andrew wachs    Mar 06, 2009  at  2:46 am
12

let me say this, always great. Drive Safe!

dave    Mar 07, 2009  at  12:50 am
13

Want.

Want. Clouds.

Denis Burak    Apr 25, 2017  at  6:22 am
14

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