Monday, January 7, 2013

I hope,' he said, 'that 
when I grow old and the chisel drops,
I may crawl out on a ledge of the rock and die like a wolf.'

an excerpt from,  "An Artist"
Robinson Jeffers 

the Los Angelenos are bitching about the "cold" under blue skies and waving palm trees.

i'm killing time until my baby wakes,
sipping wine and satisfied with the painting of the last week--
out there under the orange tree,
the big-ass racoons walking along the top
of the wooden fence along the bamboo.

it would seem that a years end would be pause for reflection.


last september i ended my last few weeks of a month in LA with 3 days in a burn unit--
3rd degree burns over 20% of my body.
so be it-- i was lucky. you learn a lot about yourself in a burn unit.
you learn quite a bit about what you can take
and what it is that others may or may not be able to take.

and i was one of the lucky ones...


and being one of the lucky ones
heavily sedated in bed for 3 days
gave me a shot at dealing with
and thinking about the realities of paint handling
and getting along in this world.
steel sharpens steel and extreme pain is the most discerning of alloys.

as artists its important to question yourself from time to time.
what the fuck is it that we are doing?

more importantly, why are we doing it?

there should be the dance of the song of the lyric in our art.
maybe not at face value (we can have our hard logic and geometries),
but it should be there.
somewhere in the vapor of our output,
our creation, our love,
there is a place for the cold formalities and obfuscations-
but the lust and flesh must (somehow) hold...
the old, old passion, fire and brimstone--
the likes of which drove any number of French poets
and Russian novelists to a bottle,
a bad woman,
or God...

sadly, i'll admit that i've caught myself
making art as if clocking in for a shift-
deliberate and taped off; stoic
with an eye to the product i'd already received 50% of--
or the gallery voice, "...can you do another this size?"
and i've made art in drunken reverie
singing as poorly as loudly with a madly loaded brush.

i much prefer the latter.


reflection and gratitude...

with reflection on my work comes a sense of gratitude
for the good fortune i've had and the beauty i've known.
the grace of family works it's way in there, as it should.
the softening of calloused edges and the opening of eyes
that have seen far far too much.
i can thank my wife for her love
and she will see me as the sentimental lout i am.
i can never thank my daughter
for what she has given me,
as i can't understand much of her native tongue
and at some point she may, as a young adult, find me mad...
or, perhaps an ally.

you can fill a thousand notebooks
and never realize that a page means nothing.

you can paint over a canvas for decades before there is art.

i strive to work simply for the work.
my labors in the studio are simply that-- labors in the studio.
as a Zen dilettante, i'm far too familiar with the notion that the goal is the path.
but i have wavered-- there have, through the errors of good fortune,
been those moments of commercial demand.
the fun diminishes as does the payment.
for every painting sold there is another bill paid
and another wine--
another cut of meat you can't afford, but pay for.

and that painting is gone forever.

it means more to paint for no reason at all
than to paint for any number of projects or dollars.
i have made paintings with money in my pocket
and i was not as happy as i was
with the best paintings realized while poor...

...that notion of projects
and dollars.

there is, we will be reminded,
in the harshest of tones,
an industry,
greasing it's way under our romantic pursuits.

exploit it when you can.
enjoy it.
never trust it.

if you are lied to twice
by a man in the art world
you know he is not a man.

if you are lied to twice
by a woman in the art world
you know she doesn't deserve to be a woman.

more importantly, there is life.

you can be a good painter,
but only a good parent can be a great artist...