my husband comments as we drive through the countryside between our town and Kansas City. "You're always looking out the window."
Our marriage of almost 25 year is fine, he is just annoyed with me at the moment. He doesn't know that I've been painting. I'm always painting. I paint when he drives. I paint at church. I paint as I wait in line at the grocery store. It's what I do, how I live.
I'm not talking about having a wet canvas set up before me and fresh paint squeezed out on the palette. I'm painting with my eyes and my heart. Studying shapes, patterns and colors. Understanding the truth of nature, the way a tree grows, the way the land falls, the way the light is filtered. I'm looking, truly looking, seeing.
Most people would assume I'm daydreaming, far off in another land. But no, I am truly present in the moment before me. I want to remember it all.
I use this information when I am physically standing with my palette knife in hand. I'm finding myself reaching more and more for these deep seeded memories as I paint. I'm beginning to favor my recalled memory paintings. They aren't about duplicating the nit picky details captured in a photograph and they have an entirely different mood than my hurried plein-air works. Instead these paintings are about conveying a since of time, place and emotion.
It seems that I paint these memory paintings forever. First they live in my mind and when it is their time they very slowly develop on the canvas. You know how hard it is to describe your night dreams to someone? How the images and activities seem disjointed when you try to explain them? Finding the words to convey to another what was so real to you just minutes before seems impossible and listener is never truly is ever able to relive what you just lived in your dreams. That's my struggle, my chore, my life. Except I can use no words, just juxtaposed bits of colors, chroma, hue and value.
When I have finished a painting. When I have said all that I want to say. I put the painting away. I turn it to the wall, most likely I'm sick of it. We've battled for days and come to a standstill. No one wins. We just agree to be done with it. Sometime later, before it leaves my home studio, I turn the painting around and study it with an air detachment. I do this with all of my paintings as I've found there is much to be learned from studying ones own work. This discovery amazes me. The paintings that I create from thin air, from my thoughts and my memories, the ones that I have gone to battle with for days on end, hold my attention the most. There is so much to see. They are hardly "cut and dried" images. Not "what you see is what you get". They are more. They are ethereal. I find myself getting lost in the image and once again I am present in the moment.
P. S. After forwarding this post to another artist, whom had studied extensively with Wolf Kahn, he e-mail me back this comment. "Wolf Kahn says that the better artist one becomes the worse his driving becomes." Deb
Perhaps I might be satisfied, momentarily, with a work finished at one sitting, but I would soon get bored looking at it; therefore, I prefer to continue working on it so that later I may recognize it as a work of my mind. (Henri Matisse)
If you work from memory, you are most likely to put in your real feeling. (Robert Henri)
The most vital things in the look of a landscape endure only for a moment. Work should be done from memory; memory of that vital moment. (Robert Henri)
My landscapes are non-specific, evoking a mood rather than a particular place, so that viewers are reminded of their own memories, dreams and nostalgia for locations. (Victoria Block)
Simplicity of shape does not necessarily equate with simplicity of experience. (Robert Morris)
The artist should be intoxicated with the idea of the thing he wants to express. (Robert Henri)
The painter, being concerned only with giving his impression, simply seeks to be himself and no one else. (Claude Monet)