So far, I think that what looks like a backward step (painting somewhat realistically again) might really be a breakthrough for me. I paint things again (trees, sky, snow on leaves) but without the “copy-what-you-see” feel. I go out, walk around, and bring home some hopeful colors, using my memory, and my phone if I remember it. The shapes and compositions get worked out on the canvas. Carving away the chaos of the first splatterings with bigger brushes and sometimes the edge of a postcard, I identify the places where the art seems strongest, and go from there. It all seems to come down to spending more time out in the woods in the end, since that’s where my muse seems to live.
For some time, I responded badly to viewers who saw something in my abstracts that I hadn’t intended. Those paintings were known to them as “the one with Donald Duck up in the corner” or the “bathtub one,” which could get me kind of cranky. Despite my painting over the offensive found-realism, the paintings remained memorable for what had been discovered. GRrrrrrr.
With more time painting, I’m appreciating these discoveries more. That squinting, guileless search for what might be there is a natural response to the hide and seek game of abstraction. Hopefully, the time between “What’s this about?” and “Oh, there’s a caterpillar!” will offer the exact thing I want: eyes on the work, travelling over the surface. It’s unfair to evaluate the response as fit or unfit when I have requested that they look at my canvases.
It’s a worry, for someone like me, to have boatloads of time. When the pandemic hit, I was very uneasy. But for some reason, I have been lucky. I’ve channeled it into 48 paintings so far. I think of this windfall as a fairly magical occurrence. I am well aware of the many possibilities, and know to count my blessings.