John, I started having the most phenomenal experience with painting yesterday. I got to the gallery in the afternoon, late-ish. And I have to watch that now because I’m entirely accustomed to strong natural light and when the sun goes, earlier every day! Damn! it goes and then I go.
But I’m working (along with your portrait) on a large floral. Big waving flowers that increased in sized and long stems in a nice floating in the air thing, and starting some light along the top then I realized, oh, they’re underwater. So I kept increasing the water level on the horizon from about an inch to three inches deep and yesterday suddenly began distorting the tips of the blossoms that are both under and out of water and oh my God it’s beautiful! I got so excited by what was happening, totally thrilling.
Sometimes I really feel I’m beginning to understand paint and pigment and brushes and me and what I want to do. I’ve begun to think this long dry spell of no customers is destiny, and a chance to change my work and delve into painting again. I’ve always felt so serious about it. I produced a lot of work that I’m proud of during the Big Sur gallery spell, but much of it was fast, too fast, and I guess it’s okay because it allowed me to sell cheap. But I do enjoy the times I can really stay with a painting and work it. Not every painting lends itself to that. Sometimes you get at a finishing point fast, and there’s just nowhere left to go. I love painting water and its effect on things, and this is getting really wonderful.
RAINSTORM ON POND
oil on canvas
20 X 30 inches
What IS the magic in rain hitting the surface of a lake, the ocean, a stream, a pond? A plane of glass gets wind-rippled then punctuated by drops, distorted and pushed and heaved right and left by torrents from the sky.
I wanted to see the turbulent top along with a dunk below. The motion most intense at sky level, then gradually shifting the stems and roots underneath. When I see plants in motion (which is most of the time) I get a fine internal boost, I’m that sure they’re happy. As a friend once said, “Of course the wind loves growing things. Otherwise there wouldn’t be poetry.”
These are dark Prussian blues, rich greens. Waterlilies on the surface go from pale pink to yellow-whites. Some russet in the stems and great twisting escapades.