Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Want What ?!

Back when I was about 18 or 19 years old I thought that one of the greatest sins that could be committed was to live a boring life. So back then it was my hope/wish/prayer that I would have an interesting life. There is an old saying, “Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it!” In my youthful mind an interesting life meant being a successful, rich, and famous artist traveling the world. Well now I know that I should have been more specific in my wish. I didn’t get the successful, rich, and famous part but I sure did get the interesting part. After the last couple of months, with illness and death issues, I was hoping that everything would settle down. Good God how naïve could I be?

I recently found myself at the Emergency Room of the local hospital fearing that I was having a heart attack. Being nearly 60, overweight, and coming from a family of multi-generational heart disease, I became concerned when I experienced light headedness, dizziness, cold-sweats, nausea, and a tightness in my chest which extended to the left side of my neck, shoulder, and arm and didn’t go away after 6 hours when I had tried various home remedies. After spending 7 hours in the hospital receiving various tests and drugs (the morphine didn’t even give me a buzz) I was scheduled for a nuclear stress test and released to go home. I finished those tests a few days ago and will soon find out the results. I do have to admit it is a rather intriguing notion to be injected with a radioactive die solution.

I don’t want to live forever but I would like another 21.5 years even though at times life seems like an endless repetition days. That would give me the time to help raise my grandson to manhood. Regretfully, I have little confidence in his mother (my daughter) and even less in his father. It would also let me achieve my 50th wedding anniversary to my wife, the lovely Louise. After that, whatever happens happens. It does make for an interesting life.

But after all this stress and chaos there is another question that I need to answer. How do I make art out of all of this? This is the stuff of life and it is too good to waste. This is the stuff of life that makes good art. Another blogger, Philip Edson, has questioned me about expressing my “darker” side. As I thought about it I started to use darker and deeper colors. I started to use the landscape to express hiding places. Places where I can go and tuck myself into the shadows while I watch the world. Those places where I am separated, safe, protected, and remain unseen. I have created barriers and hiding places of my choosing. But there is more beyond that, as Philip asked me, how do I express more about my illnesses and depressive feelings? This has been a very good question for me.

My obsessive mind loves this type of entanglement. How do I express this stress and chaos? Do I want to be illustrative and narrative or go in another direction? There is an uncertainty that stalls and confronts me yet I see this as a good thing. If you look at history, all human growth comes from conflict. And if you look at history it also answers a lot of questions. So, I am going back and looking at the work of Rembrandt, William Blake, Edvard Munch, and Francis Bacon. I am also looking at the work of the contemporary artist, Basquiat. I am spending more of my reading time looking at human mythology, especially as it applies to the ideas of boundaries, barriers, and the dark forest. I sometimes lament that I am discovering more of this later in my life when my energy is waning but I’ll take it whenever and wherever it comes. It ain’t over until I’m dead and as I said, I hope/wish/pray that isn’t for another 21.5 years. So, if anyone has any ideas or thoughts about imagery, I’ll be glad to listen to them.

The first two images are from a series of darker colors that I have been working on. The title of the series is “Copse On Rich Street” and they are done with artist crayon on paper and they both measure 14.75” X 20.625” The next is a variation on a previous painting I had done. The colors are darker and the image leans in becoming less open. It is titled “Hiding In The Tall Grasses” and it measures 14.75” X 20.625” and is done with artist crayon on paper. These three pieces are reflective of my need for privacy and to separate myself from others and the world. To sit tucked away in quiet and dark places. The last piece is based on another series I started. It based on the idea of barriers and boundaries. The boundary threshold is an ancient notion known to all cultures providing society with known limits. It provides society with the unspoken “social contract” to which most people adhere. Within these limits are safety, contentment, and mutual support. To go beyond the boundary is to enter the unknown and to risk danger, darkness, and fear. The hope is to survive and to experience life more intensely. The piece is titled “Hedge Wall With Stripped Trees” and measures 20.625” X 14.75” and is done with artist crayon on paper. For me they all have a sense of entanglement and doing everything the same size fits well with my OCD.