Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dynamic Tension

Back in the early 1970’s I shared a loft in NYC with a buddy from college. It didn’t last too long because our personalities clashed. I can remember him pacing back and forth, smoking endless cigarettes, and using his hands to express unknown sentiments all the while telling me that I was a nervous person. I was the one sitting motionless on the couch, wound up tighter than a cheap watch, waiting for my head to explode so I could release the tension.

Tension is a very interesting feeling. Like so many things it can be use for good or bad. Used one way it can motivate, used another it can cripple or paralyze a person. The power of tension creates earthquakes and it also creates mountain ranges. Sexual tension can build and when released with a lover can unleash unbridled pleasure. Elements of tension in a story can hold our attention waiting for the outcome. Tension on a cable holds a bridge up. Political tension can cause us to hold our breath waiting to see if the world will sink into chaos.

Tension fascinates me. I guess that it should, there seems to be so much of it in my life. I always tell myself that I want to be free from it yet, when there is no tension I seem to go out of my way to find it or create it. I don’t really understand why I do it. I sometimes wonder if I am a glutton for punishment or if there is a part of me that abhors or fears a quiet and tranquil life. There is obviously something wrong with the way that my brain is wired and how it functions. Or maybe the gods just programmed me that way.

Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t really matter. For me, tension seemed to be here to stay and since I had it, I figured that I might as well use it. Over the years I’ve tried using it in my personal relationships, in my marriage and how I raised my children, in how I have dealt with jobs and co-workers. None of that seemed to work out really well. Actually, a lot of it was disastrous. There were times that it wasn’t disastrous and that was when I used it in my painting.

This tension could help to bring a painting to life. The tension could add a shimmer or resonate with some unknown chord. It could create the feeling of a perilous balancing act where I might wait and watch just to see which way it might fall or a mad dance whirling and taking on its own life. It could be like lightening cutting through the darkness illuminating the world around it, motionless and silent, for just a split second waiting for the rumble to catch up to it. The tension was never boring but always interesting and filled with life, even if I didn’t really understand or agree with it. This tension is always real. And it is exhausting, but sometimes feeling exhausted can be a good and satisfying thing. It lets you know that you are alive. It lets you know the difference between you and a chair just sitting there.

The above piece is untitled. It measures 15" X 21.75" and is oil on prepared paper.


Blogger amber said...

i like how the red turn to yellow in this piece It's alive ,moving afire!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

And tension is what makes a string sing when plucked...or snap when over-wound.

Here's hoping you, me and all our friends have the tension it takes to sing not snap.

Fine fine painting, am glad to be back and to have the wherewithal to enjoy your art again!

10:07 PM  

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