Friday, May 18, 2012

About a Pot of Soup

Writer John Irving quoted in a recent interview in Time magazine: “If you presume to love something, you must love the process of it much more than the finished product.” Well, yes. But therein lies the rub. I would be happy to paint and never finish anything. Resolving a painting, deciding that it is as good as it’s going to get, or that it’s great or that it’s for the trash bin; that’s the hard part.

I love to cook. I like the process so much that it serves as time off for me. I like to be alone and focused and to work at my typical careful and slow pace. I turn putting a soup or stew together into a lovely time away from the cares of the world. In some ways it’s like painting. Except I don’t have a problem with getting the soup to the table in the same way I have with getting a painting to public view. When I was first married any criticism of my cooking would devastate me but I got over that after a while. 

It requires determination and discipline to finish a painting. I think that apart from the pure pleasure of the painting process there’s the factor that my vision for the painting usually goes a bit beyond the reality of my powers. There are those wonderful moments that the work seems to surpass my vision for it and there are a few paintings that seem to have happened sort of magically. But mostly, after some time has gone by, I think I can do better than that about many of them. That’s not a bad thing; it keeps the work moving on and always interesting, but accepting that not every piece of work will be a minor miracle is never going to be easy. So back to the kitchen and another satisfying experience of a pot of soup. And I can eat the finished product.

Wisdom from French painter Maurice Vlaminck: “Good painting is like good cooking; it can be tasted, but not explained.” 

The image above is a new small collage called BlueYellow ©2012, 8.5” x 10.5”, mixed media on paper.

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