I’m looking around my studio as I sit here waiting for the wax to melt. To be honest, it’s been a hard few days to stay focused on painting. I drift in and out of painting and cleaning the house. Some people meditate in the morning. I sweep. I sweep the floors and rugs. Tufts of dog hair cling to the broom bristles. Dirt is pushed and piled neatly into a pyramid on the dust pan. It’s an attempt to have order and control. I need a visual purity otherwise I’m off my game.
Occasionally in my sweeping fury I find a tick. I look to see how big, the color. Is it dead? Into the garbage goes the dirt pyramid, tick and all. These creatures don’t phase me at all. It’s no longer a surprise. I can expect it.
It’s only natural that this week I’ve been thinking about the outcomes of surprise. I want to flip this coin on its head and consider the surprises which lead to delight.
Surprise has context.
The image above is a detail of a current painting I’m working on. When I fall into the rhythm of painting I find comfort yet there has to be an element of surprise. Something unexpected that stops the viewing. Raises the eyebrow. Tilts the head. A potential placement of color, a mark or a scraping that makes me a bit nervous because I’m pushing the edges. I’m creeping, tick like, towards the unknown and I’m all alone!
So I scrape, chisel in ‘X’s, lay down transparencies. “That was cool.” I view the painting from a distance. Is it alive from 20 feet away? Is there something that invites me in? If I hover intimately do I smile?
Contrasting colors give me a happy jolt. Like that red next to the purple. Driving down a bumpy dirt road also makes me smile! Those two small scraped circles, one in white and the other in blue. Now that’s intriguing. Downright delightful!
And of course, next week we have the solar eclipse! I didn’t make any plans to be in the Zone of Totality, didn’t buy any eclipse glasses. Fortunately my neighborhood is up on these things. I’m sharing a tip from one of them.
Another great thing to watch out for that doesn’t need eye protection are the shadows created by holes in leaves. They create a natural pinhole camera. You’ll see multiple eclipses on the ground in the shade.
Wow! How delightful is that?
Perhaps the eclipse is coming at just the right time. A reminder to find the delight even in the darkness.
PS: A few other things that delight me right now.
A real birthday card with a handwritten note for you.
Mark Rothko: New reverence after I read his biography.