© 2019, Molly Larson Cook
Acrylic on canvas
I read today that studies show the people with the safest work during this COVID-19 crisis are artists and loggers. Well, now, as Tom Hanks might say, what do we make of that?
I spent part of the day in my studio and can attest that it’s one of the best places to self-isolate. And to get work done at the same time. I’m no good at logging, so I’ll take a day of painting instead.
Artists and writers are often advised to “use it” when faced with some external problem. Make the problem part of the work. Or use the work to transform the problem into something different – and better.
I was not thinking of COVID-19 when I was working on Skylark over the past couple of weeks, and I don’t explain my work, so I’m not going to tell you what Skylark is about or what it means to me. I’m not sure I even could. I can tell you that being in a safe place doesn’t mean you have to do “safe” work. Not on your life. I leave it to viewers to create their own narratives about my paintings.
The best I can do is tell you that I see a lot of life in this painting which might have been an unconscious response to the worst of the news. I see the form, the colors, the dynamism. But that’s just me. You may see something entirely other, or as playwright Christopher Fry once wrote about such matters, you may see something “altogether else.” Or you might see nothing. When it comes to art, one size definitely does not fit all.
What I can tell you about the painting is that much of the time, I mix my own colors and that I use layers and layers, sometimes wetting a nearly dry layer and scraping off almost as much paint as I’ve put on, aka a subtractive process. Or in my terms, deconstructing. In this case, I did it several times getting to the blue field I wanted. It’s a labor of love, the mixing and wetting and pulling paint off. If you’ve followed me here, you know I don’t use brushes, only tools, and the result pleases me.
As a writer, I recognize the process as close editing. And I find that my two rules for writing work just as well for the art – with a little linguistic shift:
- Get the paint down. 2. Fix it.
Words to live by. And work by. Every day, come rain or come shine or whatever else the universe hands us. And every day, I learn more about my work. As Bayles & Orland counsel, we have to do our own work because who else will do it for us?
Stay safe, wash your hands, do your work in whatever ways you can right now. Even thinking about it or planning it is “doing the work.” I have a mug commemorating the Maine Wooden Boat Show a decade or so back. It’s one of those sturdy beige pottery mugs you find in the best diners with the best homemade pies and great non-designer coffee. I use it all the time because it’s a good mug, but also because of the words printed on it for the Boat Show. They are my guide and reminder when the going gets tough. If you like them, they can be yours.
“Row hard. No excuses.”
Say amen, baby. Say amen.
2 thoughts on “Artists and Loggers Staying Safe”
Thank you! Your thoughts are always welcome. Stay safe and give thanks that we’re still able to be inspired and do our work!
Amen, amen…I love the colors and the way Skylark looks upward to the future…you always inspire me…thanks.