A year ago yesterday, 2 November, 2013, I started my first painting: Boating to Alphaville. Since, I have built up a considerable body of work, as anyone can see at the Paintings link:
A year has gone by, almost entirely dedicated to painting. Each and every day, except for trips to Bruxelles and London, and August on the beach with family, I worked in the turret and in the garden grateful for the time, space and opportunity to do and paint as and what I pleased. No pressure, but my own solitary pursuit of some insubstantial ideal transformed via my rough hands into icon. From idea to icon. Irreligious, no; nor sacred, but for the blind faith and almost stupid devotion to a need to bring order, pattern, expression and color to an inner vision, an ethereal plan made concrete. Or painterly.
Today, Monday, Year Il, I will celebrate by starting a new painting, one I have already harped upon, and I already know what my next will be after that. On their completion, who knows? All I can do is celebrate the occasion, this moment in space/time/energy, to be at my easel, and leave you with an invitation to collect my previous work:
P.S. Yes, of course, there is much more to be said, and I may return to elaborate on this post, but I hear the approach of a fast-falling object…
The fast falling object was exactly what I expected, and as I suspected, facile, a toss, or throwaway, the picture of a man falling from a dry dam. I painted over it, and it was transformed into an abstract impressionist painting of a downpour in blue, the pictorial rendering of a late night in Dublin, on my way home from a club.
Recall is not always automatic, and why the image and memory was conveyed to me, I don’t know, but there it was. Rain, blue night, and lamp posts.
That, then, might be what this year actually represented: head down, shoulders hunched, hands sometimes fretful or shaking from the cold, an adventure in the dark, an unhoped for companion, and a bit of old-fashioned gallantry for my lady muse in the dark, but for a luminous orb overhead.
Now to repeat this scene every day, take these actions, repeat them for 300 days or so, and I can only be pleased to have the work piled and stored away like old much-cherished love letters one needs to burn, metaphorically speaking, to start anew. Oh, how one might want to change, but can you really change? Or really want to?
Change, yes, burn thirty or more years in the middle I deem insignificant, but were obviously steps leading to the present time and mirror-image of what I am, or appear to be; welcome or not, I am what I am, but cannot help thinking or feeling that this entire year has been a positive step backward across three decades of being and nothingness to what I would like to delude myself into believing a more creative time, when in fact, the present and very recent past have been most creative and fruitful, first with writing poetry that has been widely and extensively published, then in painting which has not had a large audience, but the force and energy have been powerful, their focus laser-sharp.
A success, except for the lack of supporters, collectors, attention from critics, journalists, a visiting public, followers.
A success, creatively speaking, and yet, it seems a part of being an artist depends on your ability to ‘con’ people with the most fantastic tales of your greatness, mesmerizing people with hypnotic tricks, schmoozing with those that count, the powerful few, but this is not my game. Nor can I act up for any significant amount of time without feeling emptied, despoiled, made to feel like a clown when succesful, or a fool when it fails. And is it worth it, being unable to work because of talks, meetings, chats, everything necessary to get your work seen, talked about? A short time, yes. Then I may fail. And location does not help, being as I am, in a small town. Who, by chance, might see my paintings and show interest? Few and unlikely. Hence, an ulterior fault preventing my self from achieving any amount of success, large or small. No reason for optimism, little room for hope that anything outside the walls will affect or be affected. The sole consolation is in the work itself.
My fear, and the fire fuelling my devotion, is that sooner or later, pressure will mount from outside to get a job, make money, get out of the house to keep or stay sane, but until then, I keep the door open for my muses, listen to their suggestions, and do my best to follow a higher order. On earth as it is in heaven.
And perhaps you learn to do what it takes, and with a little luck and persistence, the alchemic composite formulated by Fat Chance and McFate, there may come a calling from afar – a collector, curator, critic, journalist – with a word to spend, and some cash, because in the end, even after reading two excellent biographies of Picasso and Matisse hoping to gain some insight, what I most learned is what I already knew as as a poet and writer: all we want is some bread to create and run our own circus.
So, mes amis, don’t be shy. Query: