Floating on the Tide

“…i carry your heart…”
Postcard with passages from E.E. Cummings
Mixed media on illustration board
Created in 2018 for the AIDS Fund postcard project

Exhibited in San Diego and in Washington, D.C.

I’m ready to get back to work.  I’ve been experimenting with my old collage materials on the small pieces of illustration board and trying some new tricks.  But combining large areas of paint with the collage materials is a whole new adventure for me and results have been mixed.  No, wrong. They’ve been bad. That’s why we experiment.

Smaller works are not what I generally paint, so I’m ready now to get going again on larger pieces. I thought I’d do 16″ x 20″, but the first one I tried let me know I need more practice, so I’ll work on 8″ x 10″ first.

While sorting this new turn, I’ve also spent time arranging my home studio space in a more productive way. It takes a little time to have the tools and supplies just where you need them. 

But the real holdup has been the question of how to follow the Colors of Jazz series with this new work while staying close to jazz itself.

Jazz is a big subject these days, and saying “I paint jazz” is rather like an artist painting landscapes. There are landscapes everywhere a person looks, and at some point an artist will narrow that field.  Think of Cezanne and his mountain. Cezanne is known to have painted Sainte-Victoire near his home in Aix-en-Provence over 60 times.  Monet painted haystacks again and again.

Degas and his ballerinas. Cassatt with her mothers and children. Even abstract artists find a niche and stay close to that.
Mark Rothko and his color fields. Franz Kline and his blacks and whites. Clyfford Still with his jagged broken edges.  

While I wander this new territory, not lost but not quite at home yet either, I try to remember that the true spirit of both jazz and creativity in all things is improvisation and the willingness to try new things.

My old friend Robert Henri has two fine pieces of advice in The Art Spirit:

“Cherish your own emotions and never undervalue them.” and “We are not here to do what has already been done.”

I believe this includes my own work. Repeating myself is not the answer. And trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is not the answer either. Nor is living a hand-me-down art life, trying to remake one thing into another. Hand-me-downs never fit, no matter how much goes into them.

If we’re not opening new doors and exploring new ways with our creative work, we’re just spinning our wheels.

So I’m giving myself a little break at the moment. Riding the wave and letting the ideas come as they will.

In author and poet Michael Ondaatje’s wonderful memoir, Running in the Family, written about his visit as an adult to Sri Lanka where he was born, Ondaatje listens to the family stories and recounts a tale of his adventurous grandmother, Lalla, who was caught by a wave at the beach one day. Instead of fighting the current, she relaxed and was taken out to sea for a bit. She returned a little later refreshed with stories of her adventure.

I’m enlisting Ondaatje and Lalla to be my guides this week as I relax and see what comes. I hope to bring home marvelous tales and adventures to be turned into new art.

6 thoughts on “Floating on the Tide

  1. Good advice…whether it’s writing, art, or other pieces of life. Taking it to heart!

  2. Thank you for the always there support of the work and of our life, dear Michael. It was a great day at Ocean Beach in 2018!!!
    Love, Molly

  3. That’s how we stay young, Molly, we keep reinventing ourselves and confront challenges head-on.

    Can’t wait to see the new works.

  4. Hello pet you are such an inspiration with your beautiful art and all the different people that you talk about that are an inspiration for you and your work but also an inspiration for me as well.
    Love it sweetheart

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