Friday, August 26, 2011

About Retiring

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.


  1. Great post, Joan! And lovely to see you last night. xo

  2. It may be selfish of me to ask you to continue. But this post again seems to be about me. I don't always take the time to comment - I should - since I always read your posts with great interest, and the images light up my day. Or my night as they do this velvety warm evening in Santa Monica. In your weekly discipline you serve as a role model to me.
    <3 Iris

  3. Thank you, Iris. Looks like I won't quit for a while. It's very gratifying to get a response such as yours.

  4. Joan,
    Connecting is just about everything as far as I can tell, from the first sub atomic particles at the big bang until the subtle language of color. I am guessing that blogging allows a form of communication where you can't really know the impact, and maybe that's good too. Another lesson in letting go and embracing uncertainty.

    Thank you again and again. What you do matters greatly.

    Much love,

  5. See? That's the kind of feedback that makes this life brighter.