Recently my policeman son brought a group of his friends to my studio for a visit. None of these people have had much experience with the kind of art I do and probably little of any other variety. This small crowd had brought a couple of bottles of wine and some munchies and as we sat and chattered afterwards, one of my guests surprised me with: "Your paintings make me happy."
After my last blog post I got a number of appreciative comments. (I love getting those and always reply to them, by the way.) And then this note from a person dear to me: “I read every word of every blog and value your perspective. I'm grateful that you take the time to share your thoughts and I have much respect for them. Thanks for taking the time to reply.”
I can’t give up painting; I need it in too many ways, but I was considering resigning from the blog. I write a first draft on Thursday (about an hour) and polish it on Friday (two, sometimes more, hours) A lot of time for a few paragraphs of unremunerated work. The switch from painting to writing is hard, especially on those days when I have no topic in mind. Then I get into it and it becomes something and it's okay. Other times I feel like I haven't quite said anything real and it's not okay. I am uncomfortable putting something out for all to see when it’s not everything I’d like it to be. But I have been committed to publishing every Friday come rain (often in Humboldt County) or shine (seldom and treasured).
Life would be easier if I just gave up blog writing. Then I get comments like those above. What I can't give up is that connection that comes through the painting and the writing. I have wondered since childhood if anyone sees as I see. So this operation, at least in part, is a quest for that response. There’s an encounter at a non-rational level, one I don’t understand well enough to describe, but which brings a warm feeling of contentment. I used to put on one of Beethoven’s most dramatic orchestral works at good volume and stomped about saying: “You and me, Ludvig, you and me!”. It’s about connecting, about being appreciated and being heard. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like being appreciated but some of us are suckers for applause. Maybe it’s a kind of gateway drug. Get a little and soon the need escalates and you go on writing the damn blog ad infinitum. And complaining every step of the way, which is how I do a lot of things. While I am actually having a very good time.
The image above is Quartet Six, 6" x 16, Pigment Print on Acid-Free Paper, ©2010. It is more or less what I am attempting to do now in a much larger size. The quartet in progress in the studio is coming along slowly but should be at a highly photographable stage for next weeks blog post.