Sunday, June 13, 2010

Eye Can

Yesterday I had a sublime moment of understanding. Most of my life I've had thoughts and ideas in my head that I've wanted to get onto paper, but something always got lost in the translation. I blamed it on my negative notion that, "I don't know how to draw." I've always felt that, because I couldn't draw like everyone else, I simply couldn't draw. However, a month or so ago, I had a reckoning with my bad self and said, "Dammit, woman... draw anyway. Don't think. Feel." Even so, as pleased as I've been with my doodles (you've seen some in my recent posts), there was something about me doing it that felt kind of stilted. I'm sure a lot of that comes from lack of experience - y'know... the more you do something, the more natural it feels.

I've long been in awe of sculptors and carvers who say that they wait for the medium they're working with to tell them what it is to become. There's a certain level to which I've understood this. Often, words and phrases do that for me. I can latch onto one word and suddenly there's a paragraph swirling around it. However, I've never quite connected on that level with art.

Until yesterday.

Having finished necessary projects, I found myself with some "play time." Finally, I had a chance to simply do some art for art's sake. Oh, rapture! What joy!! I wandered up to my studio, fresh mug of coffee in hand, and spent some time piddling around, rearranging things, and putting things away, before I forced myself to get busy. I had a lot in my head. I knew I needed a big surface and paint. For a little while, I splotched away, daubed, swept wet brushes across the paper. I didn't know where it was going and I didn't care. It was the doing of it that was what I needed most. The... the... freedom.

I leaned back, stretched, took a gulp of my cooled coffee, and looked at my painty fingers with great satisfaction. Then, I looked back at the paper. There she was, hiding in a streak of aqua, Esméralda, the gypsy girl from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She stood, statuesque and defiant, pregnant, holding a bouquet of flowers. All I did was give her outline and a bit of shadow here and there. "Why the defiant look?" I thought, and then noticed a sneering group of onlookers on the other side of the paper. I, too, looked at them defiantly, and in defense of my favorite gypsy character, as I scribbled in their squinty eyes and down turned mouths. Wretched crowd. Bastards. Who are they to judge?

I leaned back for perspective only to realize that I wasn't in a teaming town square in Paris after all. I was still in my little upstairs studio, paint covered and deliriously happy. I also realized that I finally understood.

It's not getting your vision onto the canvas. It's allowing the vision to leap from the canvas and come you.

I can hardly wait to get back upstairs to see who or what else has put in an appearance.

Yes, I will post a picture of The Ridicule of Esméralda soon.

1 comment:

  1. wow! i loved this! i loved reading about your experience, your process!! thanks for sharing! i'm excited to see what else leaps out. and BRAVO to you for painting and doing art. i, too, wasn't "that great" at it. i haven't done much art per se for a few years...but probably 10-14 years ago i started doing poems with my art. don't have any of it any more, so i better get some supplies and make some more! thanks so much for sharing! oh, have you read natalie goldberg's Living Color? loved that. love her stuff. read it all :) thanks again for sharing! :)
    ~amy

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