“Memory Changing” 30×40 oil on canvas, $595.00 Buy Now
It’s been a while since I’ve done an entire painting in a day. I’ve been taking my time lately. Lots of editing. I miss the thrill that is constant change. I miss the sense of completion. The moving on. Although I think some of the paintings have prospered under continued care, quite often I’ve taken something promising and turned it into mush.
There’s a bit of power in the quick and perhaps under-thought painting. It’s a marker of a little “now”. The imperfections, I think, sometimes create the character, the spirit.
Nevertheless, I think spending more time thinking about the paintings I create, working and reworking them is exactly where I need to be. It’s not to say that I won’t eventually go back to a season of painting a day. Painting a day is my jump-start. It’s the sprint to get my heart rate up before a period of more concentrated exercise. My vision for my future is having enough time to do both: one quick, small painting daily paired with work on larger pieces that extends into the weeks and months.
In the spirit of reflection, I wrote a poem about this painting, something I haven’t done in quite some time, mostly because if I completed an entire painting in the limited work time I have, there was little to no time for writing as well (even as I write this I feel guilty that I’m not painting).
The poem, like the painting, had many edits. It changed. Though short, I didn’t write it in one day and I wonder if some of the magic of spontaneity is lost by this, it’s seventh draft.
It’s a bit of a farewell perhaps. I don’t paint pelicans as often because what they mean to me has changed. I no longer cling to them as symbols of well-being, promise, or fertility the way I once did before I had my son. I’m not sure what they are to me now, and I’m not sure if I will continue to paint them.
To the Metaphoric Pelican
The art advice I got:
Slow down. Sit with it for a while
Me: hardwood floor
Worked into the grooves
You: In the sky flying
a cartoon just noticing he’s walked off the ledge
a second unmoving
Gravity requiring too much belief for my
I used to watch you from my porch, my bike, my car.
Your nose pointing down
A primal need to eat
Empty-bellied and afraid, I needed you to witness, represent
every void and sadness
Your long beak carried my heartache.
And when it broke the surface of the water
direct and focused,
an arrow piercing complacent waves
A baptism, complete with bird and water
Emerged with a fish: gulp, swallow still again
I knew hope.
Sitting with you now in your too-yellow sky
Years since I too felt something swim inside me
Push against me
Break and build me
I still like you.
But you longer carry the weight of my emptiness
on your broad wings
You: Your beak is yours
You fish your own dinner
Me: Still watching, painting
Hold you still like a memory