It’s unfathomable and yet somehow the summer season is here, and the gallery I show at in Provincetown is having their first opening of the year this coming Friday. It’s a preview – a group show – and I am showing five pieces. My solo show here opens on August 15th. I hope you can come.
Back in my Boston studio, I am still working on paintings for my August show. All of the paintings are oil on canvas and measure 18″ x 18″. In this work I’m thinking simultaneously about pictorial issues and paint itself. Sometimes I fall into the comfortable and familiar territory of landscape more than I intend, and because of this problem this time I drew for a couple of weeks before I began painting again. This alone didn’t solve my problem, but I think I’m making progress.
Drawing for me is less effortful, more impulsive, and less calculating than painting. Part of that is because of the nature of the material itself, but part of it is me and my limitations and lack of skill as a painter. I can blast through a bunch of little pastel drawings with out over thinking content or color by saying to myself the very thing my spinning teacher says to me- leave it all here. Push as hard as you can for an hour, and leave completely spent. I can do this. I can punch and kick and weep and laugh and make it through all kinds of emotional weather this way, with these little pieces of paper strewn about the studio as relics of the storm as I walk away clean and new.
My predecessors were brutes. Joan Mitchell was an athlete, what a badass. Did you ever think about how much strength and stamina it takes to make art? The explosions, the prolonged grit, the hours of sending yourself back to the very place where it hurts the most, where it’s the most intense, until you are out of breathe and you think your arm will fall off. I have always loved this kind of painting for this reason: it yokes together the body and mind. It’s like painting yoga. On a bad day you say what for? and on a good day you say that’s why.
I haven’t completely figured out how to do this with paint yet. I want to be looser and more gestural. I have really good moments where I am free, but then half an hour later I still find myself sitting on a chair 10 feet away staring the half finished canvas down- not that thinking is a bad thing of course- but I want to learn how to howl with a paint. I want to learn how to care less, play more. I’m making progress. I bought some bigger brushes and loose paint seems to be key. There are moments in this painting below where I was starting to get it. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m trying.