Lately I have been paying more attention to my approach to painting. The feelings go here and there, back and forth from committed to a cause, to just enjoying color, to go with the flow and to awareness of the moment. There is always this thing in the back of my mind that I can't quite shake. The being original, making ones mark, thinking outside the box etc... It's easy when one is trained in the fundamentals to copy a lot of different styles from the past. It isn't always easy to set out on a trailblazing journey of original achievement.
The other night I was watching Charlie Rose interview Helen Mirren. He asked her a question about of all people Francis Bacon the painter and his influence in her work as an actor. An odd pairing maybe, but when she started talking about Bacons philosophy on technique and how it must become second nature before one can move on, pushing the envelope so to speak. I knew exactly what she meant. It wasn't just Bacon, yet maybe he framed it in a way that really spoke to her; but for all creatives who strike out on their own.
I remember back to when I first discovered acrylic paints, I had been trained as an traditional oil painter and the fast drying time of acrylics was hard to get adjusted to. I was a teenager 14 or 15 maybe and by that time was already very interested in abstract art. Almost immediately I made the connection about technique. It was the same really. The basics of painting a landscape were the same regardless of whether that landscape was traditional realism or abstract. I later learned in my work as a perfumer the same rules applied. It didn't really matter, the basics were the same. It all boiled down to the "second nature" aspect of technique.
As I experimented with acrylic paints I became very interested in textural surfaces. This would turn out to be a life long love affair, and one where the trial and error of learning the materials and developing a technique and later many techniques would involve a lot more time than creating the actual work. I won't say that I was a perfectionist, I am an Wabi Sabi kind of perfectionist. I see the beauty in the flaw. I am not always so quick to eliminate it, but let it live. Sometimes I am the only one who sees it. Probably most times.
We tend to be on our guard when we think we may be found out. Like a criminal trying to tell a convincing lie to avoid incarceration. But with Wabi Sabi there is the element of simplicity and humility that are sometimes in conflict with ego driven artistry. I try to avoid that and stay humble. I am better at it now that I am older; and at the same time it does not mean that I think wisdom comes with age. Some people are complete idiots at 80 while others are sublime at twenty. I am just at a place where I see the value and beauty in a lot more things than I once did.
Wisdom I think... is in being able to find value in many things and appreciate the beauty that exists in unlikely places. Where as Helen Mirren may find value in the words of Francis Bacon, we can all have that kind of connection. Personally I find that the designer John Saladino has indirectly influenced my choice of color. When you see a dash of lavender in one of my paintings it is probably an unconscious gesture, tribute to John, as he is able to drop a lavender sofa into a rustic earthy and mostly white setting and make it work. It is absolutely brilliant his composition, his use of color, texture and mastery of space. I see the same brilliance in the first crocus of the year, as their beautiful purple heads push through the brown earth and open to reveal a bright yellow stamen. All of these colors and the splendor of them, regardless of setting are beautiful sacred things. When a human creation pays homage to the flower, the tree, the mountain or sky, it doesn't matter whether it is the masterful juxtaposition of furniture in a room, a painting or a plate of elegantly prepared food. What matters is the truth that exists in the soul energy that was inspired to create it.
To be the humble soul in a world that rewards bravado is the thing isn't is. To seek out beauty, to speak softly and have a noble intention. We are all seekers of something, we are like that flower pushing through the earth in search of the sun, climbing inch by inch to reach higher ground.