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“So Much Depends” 24×24, oil on canvas Buy Now

Last night I painted at my first Mardi Gras ball. I’ve been painting more and more at these live events– it’s a joy and and a struggle. I’m not sure I’ve found my exact voice with these types of paintings, and I’m eager to solidify my style– the compositions mostly but also the color schemes which are so different from my other paintings.  I tell myself again and again that people would not be booking me if they didn’t like my work, but my inner critic, usually pretty quiet, comes out full force on some nights when I paint in front of others.

Yesterday, I painted this abstract based on a poem that enraged me when I first heard it in tenth grade: It wasn’t a poem! It had no substance. In a world of war and pain certainly nothing at all could depend on the stupid wheelbarrow. I remember similar outrage in college over a couple of Matisse’s more abstracted works– it was too simple to be art.

I wrote a semi-narrative poem years ago (I can’t find it, but I might share it when I do). One of the lines I remember was “real art takes at least an hour.” Meaning it needed to be complex. If it was simple, it didn’t “count”.

I hesitate with this painting, the same way I used to hesitate with simpler, image-based poems. Old habits die hard. But of all my abstracts, this is my favorite, and painting it confirms the conclusion I reached a while back, post teenage poetry rage, that much does depend on a red wheel barrow, glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. The world can be appreciated, if not understood, in its minutia as well as its vastness.

 

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.